January 8, 2015

New Town looks for its fair share

By Jerry W. Kram

The New Town City Council met with former North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle to help map out the city’s strategy to protect its interests in the upcoming North Dakota Legislative Session.

Goettle, who now works in the public affairs department of Odney Advertising, will represent New Town, as well as Parshall and Stanley at the legislative session. The goal of the meeting held just before New Years was to share information on what is expected in the session and what New Town’s needs are.

Goettle told the council that there are three major proposals that will have important implications for oil patch communities – the "surge," the governor’s budget and the production tax distribution formula. The surge is a proposal by Rep. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) to use the unspent surplus from the last biennium to fund as many projects as possible around North Dakota, but concentrated in oil impacted communities. The surplus is now estimated to stand at $625 million.

Goettle said the surge would be limited to projects that can be started in 2015. Under the current proposal, New Town would receive a little more than $12 million for 2015 projects. Goettle asked if the city had that many projects ready to go. City Engineer Joe Dubel provided a list of the city’s current proposed projects, and the total for 2015 was $16.3 million.

"We have a lot of development proposed for New Town, especially around the bypass," Dubel said. "However, we have no water and sewer capacity for growth. Already the infrastructure of the core of the city is being overtaxed. We won’t be able to take on any new growth without these projects we have under consideration."

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