Guest Post: The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority Is Being Milked By Special Interests

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Where does all the money go? The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority money, I mean. In 2013 the Diversion Authority is projected to spend $44 million on the FM Flood Risk Reduction plan.

“The Corps and sponsors have invested approximately $60 million in the project through the end of fiscal year 2013,” according to Diversion Authority publicist Daron Selvig.

Only $5 million is expected to come from the federal government this year. The remaining $39 million for 2013 has to come from somewhere else.

The planning for this project is an enormous cash cow for project managers, lawyers and engineering and public relation firms. At each Diversion Authority meeting, more bills are presented and paid like there is an endless supply of money. More studies are authorized, and the money keeps flowing. Currently, there are outstanding contracts of $10 million.

The FM Diversion is a cash cow for those special interests who are milking the project.

Who is sitting on the stools, doing the monthly milking? The cash cow’s feed is tax dollars from local sales tax and money previously budgeted by the state of North Dakota.

Here’s a brief rundown of where the milk streams are headed. The out-of-state project management firm CH2MHill has a three month extension of its $700,000 a month consulting contract. PFM is a financial advisory group planning the cash flow at a cost of $10,000 a month for 14 months.

The Red River Basin Commission is getting $500,000 to redo their retention studies. The Diversion Authority is paying the Minnesota DNR $395,000 for what the U.S. Army Corps should have done the first time around. It will cost $238,000 to figure out how to make a stream meander in the bottom of the diversion channel. An additional $650,000 will be spent figuring out how to ring dike the communities expected to be in the holding pond south of town.

What better source of money is a community that can be exploited to fund the special interest businesses and local governments that live on such projects? The cash cow is federal tax dollars and is milked, more and more. As long as the feed bunk stays full, the cow will apparently keep milking.

Trana Rogne is a Kindred ND native and graduate of Kindred HS and MSUM. Semi-Retired Volvo car enthusiast and caretaker of the family homestead North Dakota Centennial Farm in rural Richland County. Director of MnDak Upstream Coalition & property rights advocate that is active in many community affairs including MNDak Upstream Coalition and the Richland-Wilkin JPA.

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  • zipity

    Much like a fresh steaming pie from a cow attracts flies, huge piles o’ tax dollars attract lawyers/lobbyists/consultants/politicians.

  • Edward

    Fargo Dems – feeling entitled. A few weeks ago the Fargo Mayor actually said in an interview that: “SURE THERES THE OIL AND SO FORTH, BUT THE RED RIVER VALLEY HAS BEEN SUPPORTING THE STATE FOR AN AWFULLY LONG TIME”. So the rest of the state owes Fargo apparently.

    • Roy_Bean

      They’ve been supporting us by housing our university and by building the fargobarn on $8 million worth of state property and then only charging $3000/game to let the Bison use it. Maybe we should look at relieving them of the burden of having NDSU there.

  • Thresherman

    No one on the Diversion Authority is willing to give an honest assessment on the chance of receiving full federal funding, because the odds of that happening are about nill. Our great paper of record, The Fargo Flood Zone Forum, is no more than a shill for the authority and instead of asking probing questions about the feasibility of financing the project, they sweep any bad news down the old memory hole.

    • devilschild

      So typical of every Forum Communications owned paper I have ever read and I have read several of them. A couple of months back the GFH reported on a city council meeting. At the meeting the council decided to forgive a $400,000 loan given to the person who bought the old opera house. They didn’t mention the man’s name in the article even though they had done an interview with the man shortly after he bought the building. They knew his name but they left it out of the article. Why? And they wonder why so many of us are tired of them.

  • jimmypop

    “The cash cow is federal tax dollars and is milked, more and more.”

    you all need to get together (get al carlson in the room as well) and get your story straight. are the feds giving us money now or not?

    • Marcus

      jimmypop,

      There is a fundamental difference between federal dollars for studies and actual construction.

      However, I think you’re seriously onto something.

      I for one would applaud an open accounting of exactly where funding has come from and where it’s been spent…and on what.

      Taxpayers have a right to know where local, state and federal dollars are going…no matter how Fargo, Cass and the Diversion Authority choose to launder those funds.

      If the project doesn’t have a running total cost now…imagine how many millions will slip through the cracks in the future.

      Sorta like how $19 million-ish and the Zavoral’s found themselves at odds with the U.S. Department of Justice after things started shaking out / settle after the Grand Forks project.

      The Corps eats money, but needs a willing participant like Fargo to keep justifying a steady stream of funding.

      • jimmypop

        “There is a fundamental difference between federal dollars for studies and actual construction.”

        uh, no. money is money. especially when you are talking MILLIONS. the folks like al carlson and the anti-diversion folks claim the feds are not supporting this project. further, they never will support it. meanwhile, the feds are actually spending millions on it. they either like it or they dont. right now they love it to the tune of millions upon millions invested in a solution that has yet to be bested by anyone else.

        so, the locals support it. the feds support it. yet here sits the state…..saying nobody does.

        • Marcus

          jimmypop,

          The nearly $800 million federal share “has not” been approved.

          This is the very $800 million in federal funding that Fargo is lamenting in relation to House Bill 1020.

          The very same $800 million that pro-diversion supports are trying convince people will not come if the state doesn’t pony up right now.

          This is the $800 million that the House and most likely Senate will see as the wild card in the proposed boondoggle.

          With over $100 million in state funding for internal dike and levees to bring Fargo adequate flood protection and 42.5 leave very little for Fargo to bemoan without looking greedy…as per usual.

          hmmm…can’t get any clearer than that…

          It appears that assumptions that the state doesn’t support Fargo with over $100 million in funding for flood protection is being considered not good enough.

          Perhaps the $100 million dollars would be better served “elsewhere”…?

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