Posted on: February 9, 2017

Mayor Barney's Testimony on HB 1366 at the Capital

Chairman Headland, Committee members, my name is Chuck Barney and I am the Mayor for the City of Minot.  I am representing the City of Minot to encourage a do pass on HB 1366.

Along with my testimony that is being handed out, I have included a brochure titled “Growth and Energy Impacts” for the City of Minot. This document details how the City of Minot is impacted by the growth due to the development in North Dakota.

The oil and gas development in western North Dakota has brought a lot of new companies, and a lot of new people, who now call Minot “home.”  During the period of 2009-2015 Minot’s footprint nearly doubled.  The population jumped from 36,587 to approximately 50,000. This continues to be reflected in student enrollment numbers. The number of sanitary lift stations has nearly doubled from 23 to 45.  Surrounding townships have also seen exponential growth.  Along with that growth in Minot and the surrounding region, more traffic means more lane miles and more traffic signals.  In fact, since 2010, traffic counts at major intersections throughout the City of Minot have increased between 20 and 70 percent.  These unprecedented increases in added traffic drastically shortens the lifespan of infrastructure. 

On a day-to-day basis, costs to operate the city have grown to try to maintain and service the infrastructure.  The City and its residents have committed to take on a large portion of these energy impacts by way of property taxes and higher than average utility rates.  In fact, let me refer you to page five (5) of the brochure where you can see that Minot’s utility rates have doubled over the past decade and are now the highest of any comparable city in the state..

I will note the slow-down in energy development has provided the city an opportunity to “catch” our breath. However, the amount of debt the city has taken on to address the growth is significant. In the past four years, the city’s debt has increased 165 percent. The city anticipates bonding for an additional $27.6 million for projects underway to include flood control in 2017.  

The city’s debt per capita went from a low of $969 in 2010 per capita to a high of $2,611 per capita in 2016.  The debt included in these calculations does not include any debt for the North West Area Water Supply (NAWS) or the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Plan. 

On page nine (9) of the brochure it reflects that the city over the next five (5) years has One-Hundred-Thirty-Nine Million ($139M) in growth related capital improvements.  The city has however, had to delay projects due to the increased debt burden for the previously bonded projects to sustain the growth that happened during 2009-2015.

The brochure that accompanies my testimony details, on page eight (8), that as a recipient of oil impact and HUB city funding in the past, the city has undertaken approximately One-Hundred-Seventy-One Million  ($171M) in growth related projects.  The funding received from the State has helped offset the cost of the projects by Thirty-Two percent (32%).  We thank you legislators for that.  The citizens of Minot are carrying the other Sixty-Eight percent (68%) cost burden of the increased growth related costs.  As growth-related projects remain to be completed, it is essential that assistance from the State continues.

I would also like to point out many of you are aware the city received Seventy-Four Million ($74.3M) from the federal government through the National Disaster Resilience program.  These funds may not be used to build a portion of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Plan. The federal grant is very specific on how the funds may be used.

The City has and continues to provide water on a regional basis to surrounding communities and water districts to include Burlington, West River, Berthold, Mohall, Sherwood, North Prairie Rural Water, and North Central Rural Water Consortium.  Each of these entities has seen growth related to the development of oil in North Dakota.  The ability to provide infrastructure for permanent housing for Minot and the impacted communities will provide a more stable workforce and better environment for all residents.

Storm water management has become one of the more serious issues facing the City. The Puppy Dog Coulee provides drainage for thousands of acres of land before flowing into Minot, and passing through a large housing development located just west of Dakota Square Mall.  The current capacity of this system is under-rated based on the growth in southwest Minot. Between the storm water management needs of downtown Minot and the Puppy Dog Coulee, this is a project the city has had to delay because of the significant debt already undertaken by the city. 

As the geographic size and the population of Minot grows, the demands on the waste water system have also increased.  The City has treated its wastewater through lagoons and a wetlands system; however, due to the increased demands the current system will no longer be considered adequate.  The increased volume of waste water from the City and the region is forcing the construction of a mechanical waste water treatment facility.  

Combining both storm water and waste water management, the City is estimating approximately Seventy-Five Million Nine-Hundred Fifty Thousand ($75.95 M) in needed waste water infrastructure in 2017 through 2019. This is on top of what the City has put in the ground since 2011, which has caused the City of Minot to have the highest utility rates for all cities over 5,000 in North Dakota. 

Minot, like other energy impacted cities, is struggling to service our debt and continue to make the necessary infrastructure improvements to ensure safe streets, adequate water and sewer, and public safety. 

The City built a new fire station in southeast Minot; however, with growth, a fire station in northwest Minot is also now necessary.  However, we have had to delay the construction of the station due to our increased debt burden. In addition, the City still needs to build or move to another facility for City Hall.  Currently City Hall shares space with the police department.  The police department has grown due to increased crime and the police department and has run out of space to house basic administrative services and the detectives division.  Yes, the oil field activities have decreased, but, unfortunately we have not seen a corresponding decrease in crime. 

Financial support through the oil and gas distribution formula is still necessary for the communities in the energy-impacted area to ensure the communities have the ability to provide the basic needs for the citizens.

In closing, the brochure provides the details of the City’s infrastructure needs.  As you review the Growth and Energy Impacts, you will see the impact oil development has had on the City of Minot.  I know other communities have their information available.  The impact is not isolated to anyone city but is impacting an entire region.  Therefore, I encourage you to give HB 1366 a “Do Pass” recommendation from this committee.

I would also like to express the City of Minot’s appreciation for the funding received during the last biennium.   Thank you for your time to lisqten to Minot’s concerns on this biennium.   Thank you for your time to listen to Minot’s concerns on this bill.

Growth and Impact Brochure