Committee approves MAGIC Fund

A Minot company doing work at Minot Air Force Base would get $55,000 in interest buydown through the MAGIC Fund under a proposal that gained the support of a screening committee Friday.

The Minot City Council will vote April 8 on whether to approve the funding to Gohl Properties as recommended by the MAGIC Fund Screening Committee.

The buydown is part of a financing package for an 11,200-square-foot shop and office facility that is under construction next to the base.

Russell Gohl and his company, Earthmovers, received the 50-year privatization contract for the Minot AFB water and wastewater systems. Constructing a shop and office facility is required under that contract.

Primary financing partners are American Bank Center and the Small Business Administration, but an interest buydown is sought through the state Flex Pace program. The program requires that 35 percent of the buydown come from a local source, which prompted the request to the MAGIC Fund for $55,000.

The company has hired 14 employees and expects to hire four or five more, according to information from Souris Basin Planning Council, which presented the application to the screening committee.

Information provided to the committee stated that annual salaries would average $60,000 plus benefits. The jobs include equipment operators, trained and licensed in maintenance of sewer and water systems. The planning council estimated the cost per job to the MAGIC Fund at $2,900.

Gohl had started Earthmovers in 1988, working on municipal water and sewer line replacements and repairs, environmental restoration, hazardous materials remediation and construction of crude oil and natural gas transmission lines. The company installed more than 280,000 feet of sewer and water mains at Minot AFB.

Gohl sold the business assets to Strata Corp. in 2006 but kept rights to the Earthmovers name. Earthmovers, owned by Gohl Properties, underwent a name change to Base Utilities Inc., on March 1.

Minot is the first air base to have its main utilities privatized. Previously, the base’s civil engineer squadron operated the water and wastewater system.

The MAGIC Fund has $6.8 million in unencumbered funds from which any interest buydown assistance would come. The fund also has $3.6 million in additional funds that have been awarded but not yet paid out.

The MAGIC Fund receives its money from city sales tax.

Cindy Hemphill, city finance director, reported that sales tax collections were down 7 percent in 2013, but so far in 2014, collections are up 30 percent. On July 1, the allocation of the first cent of sales tax will change to provide 50 percent for flood control. The new amounts for existing uses are 25 percent for capital improvements, 15 percent for economic development and 10 percent for property-tax relief.