Election affects Fargo-Moorhead flood control efforts

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MPR photo Ann Arbor Miller

The election brought good news and bad news for Fargo-Moorhead officials working on a proposed $1.4 billion Red River diversion to control flooding.

On the local level, voters in Cass county North Dakota approved a half cent sales tax increase. The tax will be in effect for 20 years and local officials expect it to raise about $220 million for flood control. Local leaders felt the tax was a very important step in lining up local funding for flood control. Fargo voters approved a similar tax earlier.

It’s likely Minnesota, North Dakota and the local governments will need to raise about $750 million for the project.

The bad news for flood fighters was the defeat of Minnesota 8th district Congressman Jim Oberstar. He chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. That’s the first hurdle for federal funding for a diversion, and local officials were counting on Oberstar to help steer the project through Congress. He visited Fargo earlier this year and pledged his support for the diversion channel.

7th District Congressman Collin Peterson was re-elected, but will lose his Agriculture Committee chairmanship. But prior to the election, Peterson said he was confident he could steer flood control money to the Red River Valley even if Republicans controlled the committee. He’s pledged to bring home $50 million a year for 10 years to fund

projects to hold back water and create wildlife habitat.

Fargo-Moorhead officials have to the wondering how much more difficult it will be to

get funding for a flood diversion given the new political landscape.

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