FARGO - Commissioners here approved another half-million dollars in flood mitigation expenses Monday, additional costs that Fargo leaders say are necessary to continue ramping up protection citywide.

Officials want to build up protection along all of Fargo's rivers and drains to defend against a flood level of 42.5 feet.

"We know we need to fund getting people up to that level and fund the diversion," Mayor Dennis Walaker said. "We need to pay for all that."

Given the simultaneous effort to fortify existing protections and secure the metro-area diversion, Walaker said it should be no surprise that as the flood protection projects grow in number, so do expenses.

"A lot of these changes are part of existing projects, and if we don't get the work done now, it will end up costing much more later on," Commissioner Dave Piepkorn agreed.

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Commissioner Mike Wil­liams said many of the added costs that Fargo leaders have approved recently are going toward existing levees that must be reinforced or added to because of the city's goals.

"We've got 52 miles of dikes that we want to get certified," Williams said. "A lot of what you see is there are dikes that were contracted earlier, but now with our new levels, they need to be built up."

But despite the need to approve expenses, there's a question of accountability.

Some city officials have occasionally raised concerns about how much Fargo is shelling out and whether the funds will be there to cover all the citywide protection and pay for the local share of the Fargo-Moorhead diversion.

As with other flood-related costs, taxpayers will help foot the bill for the latest round of expenses ap­proved Monday - which totaled more than $509,000 - through Fargo flood sales tax dollars.

As of Sept. 30, though, the sales tax account was nearly $11 million in the hole, due to the multitude of other expenses being paid for with the funding.

Among the costs ap­proved Monday were:

  • $130,750 to extend subcontracted work to complete feasibility studies for the Fargo-Moorhead diversion. Fargo engineers said their fieldwork has been delayed because of weather conditions and landowner resistance.
  • $132,000 to relocate and bury utility lines for Cable One and Xcel Energy, as part of constructing a permanent levee off the Fargo Country Club.
  • $103,300 to reimburse the Fargo Park District for construction of the South Rose Creek Levee.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541