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Published January 16, 2010, 12:00 AM

Moorhead pleased with flood money in Pawlenty plan

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s $50 million recommendation for bonds to pay for flood mitigation projects statewide was greeted Friday by Moorhead officials as a good start toward improved flood control.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s $50 million recommendation for bonds to pay for flood mitigation projects statewide was greeted Friday by Moorhead officials as a good start toward improved flood control.

The city of Moorhead is seeking $12 million in bonding authority to pay for further interim flood control steps, and improvements to storm and sanitary sewer systems.

“This is going to be a many-year commitment,” Pawlenty said Friday in announcing he wants to borrow $50 million for flood projects. “This is the first phase. This is not planned to be the solution of all time.”

Federal, state and local officials continue work on selecting a more comprehensive solution to control flooding in Fargo-Moorhead.

“It’s good news,” Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said of Pawlenty’s recommendation. “It’s good that the governor put this in his budget.”

The $12 million would be added to $16 million already expended or available for interim flood control infrastructure improvements, said Michael Redlinger, Moorhead’s city manager.

But Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said he wanted to see more money made available for flood hazard projects. He serves as chairman of the Senate Committee that determines funding for public works projects.

“There is more to be done” than $50 million can handle, said Langseth, whose district includes Clay County and other flood-prone areas.

The governor’s recommendations begin the process of arriving at a state bonding package that also will include wish lists from both the Minnesota House and Senate. Typically, the bonding bill is one of the last pieces of legislation to pass every session.

Once the bonding package is determined, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s water division will allocate funds from bonding that will be available for flood control projects statewide.

Moorhead also is asking for another $12 million from the state as a first installment toward Minnesota’s share of what is expected to be a $100 million share of a permanent Red River Valley flood control project.

Moorhead officials are confident they have an excellent case to make to DNR officials who must select from many proposals.

“We’re in a good position,” Voxland said. “We have $12 million of projects ready to go.”

Two major projects for local higher education campuses that require bonding did not make Pawlenty’s recommendations.

Minnesota State University Moorhead is seeking $14.9 million to renovate its library, built in the 1960s.

“I’m optimistic that we will be included in a Senate and House bonding bill,” said Daniel Kirk, MSUM’s vice president for facilities and administration. “Like most sessions, the 2010 one will be a challenge.”

Minnesota State Community Technical College’s $5.4 million for a library and classroom addition to its Moorhead campus also failed to make Pawlenty’s bonding list.

“We didn’t make the cut on that one,” Provost Jerry Migler said. Nonetheless, he added, “We’re still cautiously optimistic,” noting that previous projects failed to make the governor’s list but later were added by lawmakers.

Langseth, for one, was upset that Pawlenty did not include more money for college and university needs.


Key figures in bonding proposal

  • $685 million: Proposed borrowing

  • $725 million: 10-year bonding bill average

  • More than $3 billion: Governments wanted

  • $317 million: Repairs to state buildings

  • $251 million: New buildings

  • $50 million: Flood recovery and diversion

  • $75 million: Replace bridges


    Don Davis, the St. Paul correspondent for Forum Communications, contributed to this report

    Readers can reach Forum reporter

    Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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