County OKS bonds for ethanol plantA public hearing on a MIDA bond issue for a Dakota Spirit Ag Energy ethanol plant drew negative comments from one Spiritwood area resident. The comments came during the regular Stutsman County Commission meeting Tuesday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
A public hearing on a MIDA bond issue for a Dakota Spirit Ag Energy ethanol plant drew negative comments from one Spiritwood area resident. The comments came during the regular Stutsman County Commission meeting Tuesday.
MIDA bonds are tax-free municipal bonds that the county would issue as an intermediary for Dakota Spirit Ag Energy. The county would bear no liability for repaying the bond issue.
“It should not be approved or, if it is approved, should be approved with protection for the local infrastructure,” said Joe Schmitt, who lives west of the community of Spiritwood.
Schmitt provided the commission with a poster of pictures depicting roads near Great River Energy’s Spiritwood Station coal-fired plant and the proposed site of the Dakota Spirit Ag Energy site, which is adjacent.
“Jamestown and Stutsman County should limit its support to projects that need its support and are viable,” he said. “You should not support companies with hundreds of millions in resources and projects that are not viable.”
Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., said the project is viable.
“This is for a 50-million-gallon ethanol project based on corn ethanol,” Ova said. “You can go back to the road study from 2006 to see what the effects of a corn-ethanol plant will have on the roads.”
Commission members could not see a way to connect the tax-exempt financing the company was seeking to the road issue.
“We have road issues in that area but I don’t see how we can tie a road issue to the MIDA bonds,” said David Schwartz, county commissioner.
Schmitt felt such a connection could be made.
“What is the impact of this plant being built?” he asked. “If you have a financially sound company, they have to be made responsible for those impacts.”
The commission passed the MIDA bond authorization unanimously.
In a related matter, the County Commission passed a resolution forming a special assessment district made up entirely of Great River Energy property. The district was formed at GRE’s request.
The district will finance the paving of a segment of a township road between County Road 62 and the GRE plant. The cost of the project is estimated at $3.5 million.
“It would still be a township road,” said Al Christianson, GRE manager of business development. “But the entire cost of construction would be our assessment and the road would be built to the same standards as an interstate highway.”
Christianson said ongoing maintenance costs would be negotiated with Spiritwood Township before construction begins. Engineering work on the project may occur yet this fall with construction slated for spring 2012.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org