House bill aims to help Minot Intermodal Facility
MINOT, N.D. – A bill making its way through the state legislature is causing quite a stir.
House Bill 2245 is working to establish and Intermodal transportation assistance program.
The bill would allow for a one time grant of $10 million to go towards the state’s only Intermodal rail service here in Minot. But the bill has met some opposition in the legislature.
Those who oppose the bill said they view it as a government bailout going towards the banks that currently own the property, and a subsidy to the facility they said has questionable profitability.
“When the state comes in and buys assets and those assets wouldn’t be long to the state, what you’re looking at is clearly a bailout because you’re taking those assets that the bank doesn’t want and you’re paying for them and you’re essentially giving them to another private entity,” said Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck.
Leaders with the Minot area Development Corporation said those funds would be used for acquiring above ground assets bought by banks in 2019 ranging from the facility itself to equipment.
They said this is the best and longest the facility has operated in its 20-year history.
“Since the end of October, there have been 15 trains that have moved from Minot to Seattle Tacoma, and those trains have carried in excess of 3,000 containers that before had no way to get there freight to market,” said John MacMartin, Minot Area Chamber EDC President.
The last legislative session provided a subsidy of $1.3 million as a financial safety net which was never used.
Bill authors said they are asking for funds to make the facility a more permanent operation.
“You have an asset and if you can’t have control of the asset by ownership, it makes it difficult to carry out the work that needs to be done, thus we were looking for some money to build the rail that was required and we were looking for money to buy the assets,” said Sen. Karen Krebsbach, R-Minot.
Authors of the bill said they also want to protect years of investment from the state and city of Minot totaling more than $14 million.
“The banks have the right to sell those assets they could sell it to another company that wanted to use it for something other than intermodal. That’s why we want to get involved to make sur it stays an intermodal facility,” said Sen. Randy Burckhard, R-Minot.
MacMartin said the $8 million would go towards purchasing assets, and the remaining $2 million would be invested in rail expansions to stay within BNSF requirements. The bill is currently in house appropriations and may undergo some edits before it is voted on.
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