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Update on Vision West ND committee work

Jun 20, 2016

Tax Valuation committee

Vision West ND consortium members reviewed their committee work at their meeting June 12, 2016 in Minot, N.D.

The committee working on the centrally assessed industrial tax discrepancies reported their findings.

The overall percent increase in pipeline tax valuation has changed by 413.6%.  The tax revenues have increased by 30% each year from 2009 to 2015.

County officials are curious that the state doesn’t have a commercial, industrial assessor available as some counties have hired out of state assessors at their own cost.  They’ve found that the state board of equalization may need more expertise on valuations.  According to the committee members, the state accepts the industrial value as delivered by the companies.

Pipeline assessments account for 20% or more of the tax base for seven of the 19 counties.  11 of the 19 counties have a tax base of 10% or more attributed to pipelines.

NDAOGPC and Vision West ND Chairman Daryl Dukart said this taxing method impacts all counties statewide, not just in the west.  He will be working the ND Association of Counties to see if there is an issue that the legislature should address for all counties.

It’s not only pipelines but centrally assessed property consists of railroads, electric and gas utilities.  Pipelines assessments accounted for three times the total of railroads and utility companies combined in 2015.

Current total pipeline valuation in the state is $307, 110, 053.


The Vision West ND transportation committee continues to pursue the Elbowoods Ferry.  This ferry could run 6 months connecting northern Dunn county to Mountrail county.  Prior to the Garrison Dam of 1956 and the flooding of the Missouri River, there had been a bridge, Elbowoods bridge,  that connected the tribal segments.  Twin Buttes residents must drive to New Town for many services, including health needs.  The Three Affiliated Tribe is also looking at water taxis and possibly connecting additional river bank locations.  A study is underway.  This ferry would likely haul passenger cars only, not industrial traffic.

Federal Partners

Several federal partners, who supported the $1.5 million Vision West ND grant in 2011, shared information on other grants available.

Cindy Cody, EPA region 8 sustainability coordinator from Denver, works to make communities more livable and resilient.  She said EPA had supported much planning in the past but they are interested in seeing plans move forward.  She said federal partners are willing to work together to put several grants together to make projects viable.  Often times, one grant doesn’t make a project viable. 

Four areas that received federal attention are: 1) Disaster recovery- Minot, ND received over $100 million dollars for flood relief  2) Rural and tribal communities  3) Economic development  4)  Health and Wellbeing

Cody said their office had some concern on the North Dakota Industrial Commission pending regulations that defined “interested party”.  EPA prefers a more” inclusive” comment language so more of the public can weigh in on hearings.

USDA state director, Ryan Taylor, listed several western N.D. projects that USDA has been involved with in the past.  Taylor said over 100 projects, including Bowman hospital, Watford city, Richardton, Hazen, 700 home loans and 1500 rental units since 2009.  At the Watford city Wolf pup daycare, there are 160 children under care.  They are currently working on a $1 million facility in Casselton, “Sunshine Day Care”.   .   “So, we do this around the state,” Taylor said.  There’s also a West River Vet Clinic in Hettinger, N.D. with 6 vets.  The Bank of North Dakota has often been a partner on these projects., Taylor added.  The federal interest rate is 2.87% on 30 year loans for qualifying projects.

Kirk Keysor, U.S. Dept. of Commerce economic development representative said his program does a 50/50 share on grants.  The winning projects are tied to jobs creation.  They also look at per capita income, unemployment rates, special needs, disasters and coal impacted areas.  He has $20 million available for 10 states, including North Dakota.

Aaron Gagne, Director of Region 8 HUD, said, “At the end of the day, you are our customers.”

Joel Manske, HUD N.D. field director, said because housing vouchers are “portable”, they’ve seen people moving to Williston to secure a voucher, then moving back to their original home such as Minneapolis, MN to use the housing voucher.   He said it’s happening in Wyoming as well as western N.D.  The housing vouchers are serving fewer families in North Dakota.  He also said it’s important for the federal partners to meet the members of the Vison West ND consortium to see if further grant partnerships are possible in the future.

Other federal partners discussed their grant and loan programs.  They also recommended that the state encourage local communities to have comprehensive plans.  The next Vision West ND face to face meeting will be in September.

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