Wahpeton council learns more about natural gas pipeline

Larry Oswald, Montana-Dakota Utilities Company's director of business development and energy services, far right, spoke with the Wahpeton City Council Monday. Leaders continued celebrating the news that the Southern Red River Valley will receive more natural gas.

Wahpeton will continue to be a location of choice for value-added agriculture processors, Mayor Steve Dale said Monday, July 26. An additional firm natural gas supply is vital to keeping the city and surrounding community at the forefront for those businesses.

Local and regional leaders continued celebrating Monday’s news that the Southern Red River Valley will receive more natural gas. A new 60-mile, 12-inch pipeline will be built by Montana-Dakota Utilities Company (MDU) and WBI Energy, Inc., from Mapleton, North Dakota, to Wahpeton. It is expected to be constructed in 2024 and in service by year’s end.

“It’s been a long road. This is a day we’ve waited for for a long time,” Dale said.

The full Wahpeton City Council met Monday with Larry Oswald, MDU’s director of business development and energy services, and Jeremy Fischer, an energy conservation specialist with Great Plains Natural Gas. Oswald said the actual pipeline construction would be fairly short and MDU’s existing natural gas transfer line serving Wahpeton-Breckenridge, Minnesota, and surrounding communities through the state of Minnesota, will also still be in use.

“It’s a great day for Wahpeton, our community, and Southeastern North Dakota,” said state House Assistant Minority Leader Alisa Mitskog, Dem-NPL-District 25, who also attended the meeting.

Much of the meeting was devoted to Wahpeton’s 2022 preliminary budget. Council members unanimously approved a preliminary mill levy, completing a key component of the budget process. The budget can now be reduced prior to its scheduled adoption on Monday, Sept. 20, but it cannot be increased.

Wahpeton, for the 11th consecutive year, will either hold level or decrease the number of mills levied for city services. A total of 93.21 mills will be levied, down from the 95.33 mills approved in 2020. There will also be an increase in general fund expenses of $225,039.

“Property taxes represent 17 percent of all city revenues before transfers,” Finance Director and Auditor Darcie Huwe wrote. “Sales taxes represent 21 percent of all city revenues before transfers.”

The figures for 2022 either held or were slightly raised from the figures for 2021. Last year, sales taxes were projected to represent 20 percent of all city revenue. There is no change in the percentage coming from special assessments.

“Special assessments represent 7 percent of all city revenue before transfers. (We are) 100 percent committed to debt service,” Huwe wrote.

If a home has a $200,000 value, council members read, the property tax amount for city services is an estimated $66 per month. If the home’s value increased by 6 percent, the new amount is an estimated $70 per month.

“Sewer and vector control rates remain unchanged since Jan. 1, 2018. Adjustments were made in the water, garbage, waste reduction and streetlight fees,” Huwe wrote.

Certification of Wahpeton’s property tax levy is due by Tuesday, Aug. 10.

“The County Auditor will prepare a written notice to each taxpayer with the total estimated property tax for their property based on the property tax levies submitted and the public hearing time and date for each taxing district on the tax statement,” council members read.

A public hearing on Wahpeton’s budget is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 20. If there are no significant changes, council will adopt the budget that day.

A full copy of Wahpeton’s 2022 preliminary budget is available at wahpeton.com/citybudget.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2 at Wahpeton City Hall.

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