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Dickinson may need $178M to complete more than 40 projects

To support the planned residential and commercial growth coming to Dickinson, the city may need about $178 million in the next biennium to complete more than 40 projects.

At a special City Commission meeting at the Dickinson Area Public Library on Thursday, commissioners, city officials and engineers discussed the needs the city must bring to North Dakota's 63rd Legislative Assembly. Each infrastructure project, with a minimum value of $50,000, could be stand-alone, but many are connected.

The city receives between $5 million and $6 million through the oil impact grant program, but a bill written by Rep. Robert Skarphol, R-Tioga, would increase that amount to $12.7 million each year of the upcoming biennium, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

"A nice increase," he said. "Unfortunately, we have identified needs that far exceed that type of revenue."

The city is set to approve permits for about 1,200 housing units, including 579 single-family dwellings from January to November, City Planner Ed Courton said. Based on projections and development plans, the city could see an additional 2,975 units in 2013.

"A significant amount of infrastructure has to be in place within the next year or two or we cannot accommodate that," Courton said.

One issue that will be addressed in the upcoming biennium is the use of impact fees, Kessel said. Dickinson does not collect these fees, but some Oil Patch cities do. If the Legislature rules against them, it could create a loss in revenue for the cities assessing those fees. If approved, they could be an additional source of revenue.

Apex Engineering Group, the firm that designed the under-construction wastewater reclamation facility, identified 19 projects as of the end of September that are needed to bring the complete sewer system up to date, Principal Engineer Michael Berg said. The estimated cost is less than $45.5 million. This is in addition to the cost of the wastewater treatment plant, which is budgeted for $48 million.

The city may also have to spend more to keep pump stations working in the interim, he said.

As part of the "Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future" comprehensive plan, Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson identified 14 projects that could be part of the first phase to update the water system in Dickinson with a range of more than $39 million to more than $69 million. Of the 14, half are priorities that could cost more than $34 million to more than $38 million, KLJ Office Manager Craig Kubas and Division Leader Brant Malsam said.

KLJ also identified eight transportation plans for the city expected to cost more than $62 million, Dickinson 2035 Project Manager Bob Shannon said. These ventures include adding traffic signals along State Avenue, building an underpass at State Avenue's intersection with the railroad and widening and building several roads.

There is North Dakota Department of Transportation and federal funding available for many road projects, which takes some of the burden off the city, although it still has to procure resources from those supplies.

Coordination between entities completing infrastructure projects throughout the city will be key in keeping costs down, Commissioner Gene Jackson said.

He worried that a road that is scheduled to be paved in 2013 would later be tore up to bring water and sewer pipes to developments.

The first reading of the comprehensive plan will be Jan. 21 or Feb. 4.

"They aren't easy decisions," Kessel said of which projects to move forward with. "We're at least armed now with a lot of knowledge."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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