Finance Committee Meeting Minutes – February 24, 2021

Metro Flood Diversion Authority Finance Committee Meeting

Minutes from February 24, 2021

Metro Flood Diversion Authority Finance Committee Special Meeting Minutes

A virtual meeting of the Metro Flood Diversion Authority Finance Committee was held on February 24, 2021. The following committee members were present: Bernie Dardis, Mayor, City of West Fargo; Dr. Tim Mahoney, Mayor, City of Fargo; Chad Peterson, Cass County Commissioner; Chuck Hendrickson, Moorhead City Council; Dan Jacobson, Chairman, Cass County Joint Water Resource District; Kent Costin, Fargo Finance Director; Lori Johnson, Clay County Auditor/Treasurer; Mike Montplaisir, Cass County Auditor; Mike Redlinger, City of Fargo Assistant Administrator; Rick Steen, Cass County Commissioner and Karla McCall, Finance Director, City of Moorhead.

Member absent: Tony Gehrig, Fargo City Commissioner.

  1. CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 4:13 PM. Roll call was taken and a quorum was present.

  1. APPROVAL OF JANUARY 2021 MINUTES

MOTION passed

Mr. Redlinger moved to approve the minutes from January 27, 2021 and Mr. Jacobson seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

MOTION passed

Mr. Costin moved to approve the minutes from February 10, 2021 and Mr. Redlinger seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

  1. ORDER OF AGENDA

MOTION passed

Mr. Peterson moved and Mr. Jacobson seconded to approve the order of the agenda. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

  1. APPROVAL OF BILLS

Mr. Costin reported that $13,620,152.50 are the bills through February 16, 2021. The majority is to CCJWRD for property acquisitions in the amount of $7,449,518.06.

MOTION passed

Mr. Steen moved to approve the bills as presented by Mr. Costin and Mr. Peterson seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.  

  1. FINANCIAL REPORT

Mr. Costin reported that $709,806 are the expenditures to date for 2021for a cumulative total of $632,603,365. Mr. Costin indicated that there has been a 4.2% increase in sales tax and that one more month of accruals will be added. The current net position as of January 31, 2021 is $114,425,942.

MOTION passed

Mr. Jacobson moved to approve and file the Financial Report as presented and Mr. Montplaisir seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

  1. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FINANCIAL REPORT

Mr. Paulsen reported that HB1431 passed the House and could result in $435.5 million for the MFDA this summer. House Bill 1020 also passed which is the bonding bill appropriated with the State Water Commission.

Mr. Paulsen stated that $632,603,365 has been spent to date with the majority of the expenses going to the P3 procurement, legal and engineering expenses and land purchases.

Mr. Peterson asked where we are in relation to the land acquisition budget. Mr. Paulsen indicated that it is being monitored on a month-by-month basis and that LRED was more than anticipated. We are well over halfway through the acquisition process and there is no concern as of now, but we will continue to monitor it closely. A dashboard of the status will be available at the next meeting.

  1. COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR UPDATE

Ms. Darling provided an overview of the communications department after her first 74 days. She indicated that she is building a foundation and planning. The focus on outreach has brought the Project to where it is now.

COMMUNICATIONS VIEW

High-level view of the communications landscape for this project

CORE INITIATIVES 

Priorities we must keep moving over the next six-months while the local team is being built

COMMUNICATION CHANNELS

Streamline and evolve the ways we’re communicating to educate, build community engagement and awareness

NEXT STEPS

Drive strategic initiatives to stay on schedule while building the local team

2021 COMMUNICATIONS BUDGET

Previous spend, current spend and savings

Ms. Darling indicated that it is vital that we focus on the core initiatives that will be our priorities over the next six months. They are as follows:

  • Build the communications team
  • Engage ND Legislative Assembly funding
  • Align communications approach to all constituents
  • Brand language, visuals, templates, project status
  • Proactive media relations
  • Strengthen impacted landowner communications
  • Build national coalition partnerships
  • Enhance partner communications (Corps, Fargo-Moorhead, Cass, Clay, MN DNR, ND OSE, consultants)
  • P3 strategic planning, announcement, onboarding, transition to construction
  • Activate opportunities at key events

The team is also working on branding and gaining consistency with the Project and Authority names and the multiple logos that have been used in the past.

A consistent message needs to be conveyed on all of our communication channels which will entail a lot of updating, especially with the website.

Ms. Darling outlined the next steps in the communications approach and those that will be on the team.

High level strategic support during transition – PR for Good (local)

  • Plan for and activate communications in high visibility phase
  • Expertise to support critical move to construction phase

Full Team

  • Joanne Henry (Local) – proactive media relations, project management support, community outreach
  • Mike Klein (National Expert) – P3 communications, strategic planning, onboarding, transition to construction
  • Photographer (Local) – visual media repository and website
  • Videographers (Local) – podcasts, interviews, project storyline (history, overview, future)
  • Graphic design (Local) – brand alignment, templates, project newsletter

The 2021 budget will result in an anticipated $502,140 savings from prior year.

2021 Communications Budget

Original $969,140 Funds previously included in AE2S 2021

2021 Fiscal Year
New $237,000 PR for Good contract
New $  60,000 GA Group (previously approved)
New $170,000 Creative Media Team – Photo, Video, Web
SAVINGS $502,140

Recap

COMMUNICATIONS VIEW

High-level view of the communications landscape for this project

CORE INITIATIVES 

Priorities we must keep moving over the next six-months while the local team is being built

COMMUNICATION CHANNELS

Streamline and evolve the ways we’re communicating to educate, build community engagement and awareness

NEXT STEPS

Drive strategic initiatives to stay on schedule while building the local team

2021 COMMUNICATIONS BUDGET

Previous spend, current spend and savings

Ms. Darling provided a recap of the communications approach and opened it up for questions and answers. There was significant dialogue around the definition of “local” and inquiries as to how new roles will be filled with individuals from the FM area who are well suited to fill the upcoming openings.

Mr. Peterson stated that it is great to unify the branding and that this should have been done a long time ago. He also stated that going forward, we should pursue the RFP methodology to see what the local folks are capable of.

Ms. Darling agreed but also indicated that we have a pretty tight timeframe right now.

Mr. Paulsen stated that yes, we would like to give preference to local talent but Ms. Darling needs staff sooner rather than later. Additionally, why is the RFP process in such high demand now when it never has been in the past? For example, engineering services, legal, etc., have not been retained via the RFP process.

Mr. Hendrickson asked what timeframe we would be looking at if we utilized the RFP process. Mr. Paulsen indicated that the turnaround time would be approximately two to three months to retain a new hire.

Mr. Peterson stated that the current structure is simply a bridge and the RFP process will be utilized going forward.

Dr. Mahoney voiced his concern regarding utilizing a firm from Edina, Minnesota, and the fact that they don’t understand ND bonding. He stated that when/if the legislative bodies find out that we are utilizing a consultant from Ireland, it will not be well received. The local people will remember that this situation was not handled well.

Mr. Paulsen indicated to Dr. Mahoney that yes, he understands the local perspective and there is no plan to put this in front of the legislatures. Mr. Dardis also reminded members that Governor Walz specifically referenced local as being within 400 miles.

  1. CONTRACTING ACTIONS

DA Board Approval Contract Actions

Mr. Paulsen discussed the following contracting actions:

  • New Contract for Communication Services – PR for Good – $237,000
  • New MSA – January 2021 through December 31, 2023 – Crown Appraisal – $0

Mayor Dardis asked for a motion to approve both of the contracting actions as one. Mr. Hendrickson made a motion to approve both of the actions and Dr. Mahoney requested that they be approved as two separate items; Mr. Hendrickson agreed to the split.

MOTION carried

Mr. Hendrickson made a motion to approve the PR for Good new services agreement and Mr. Steen seconded the motion and commented that he will be monitoring the $237,000 spending. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

MOTION carried

Mr. Hendrickson made a motion to approve the Crown Appraisal MSA and Dr. Mahoney seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

Executive Director Approved Contract Actions

  • Task Order 20, Amendment 8 – SEAI 45th Street & CR 16 Design Houston Moore Group – $148,000
  • Task Order 21, Amendment 9 – P3 Proposal Procurement Support – Extends POP to December 31, 2021 and incorporates 2021 rates Houston Moore Group – $0
  • Task Order 22, Amendment 5 – Mitigation Support – Extends POP to December 31, 2021 and incorporates 2021 rates Houston Moore Group – $0
  • Task Order 15, Amendment 13 – Draft Operations Plan – Extends POP to December 31, 2021 and incorporates 2021 rates Houston Moore Group – $0

CCJWRD Approved Contract Actions

  • New MSA – Land Acquisitions Services through December 31, 2023 ProSource Technologies, LLC – $0
  • Task Order 2, Amendment 1 – Property Appraisal Services Compass Land Consultants – $48,000
  • Task Order 2, Amendment 3 – Property Appraisal Services Crown Appraisals, Inc. – $134,500
  • Task Order 4, Amendment 0 – Property Appraisal Services Crown Appraisals, Inc. – $30,000
  • Task Order 5, Amendment 2 – Property Acquisition Services – Close out TO between HMG & CCJWRD. New Contract with HDR & CCJWRD was executed in May 2020. Houston Moore Group – ($443,440.81)
  • Task Order 4, Amendment 5 – Property Acquisition Services – Close out TO between HMG & CCJWRD. New Contract with SRF & CCJWRD was executed in May 2020. Houston Moore Group – ($1,782,595.96)
  • Task Order 1, Amendment 3 – Property Appraisal Services Patchin Messner Valuation Counselors – $42,500
  • Task Order 3, Amendment 1 – Property Appraisal Services Patchin Messner Valuation Counselors – $20,500
  • Task Order 2, Amendment 0 – Property Appraisal Services Tinjum Appraisal Company, Inc. – $42,000
  • New MSA for Property Acquisition Services through Dec 31, 2023 Ulteig Engineers – $0

MCCJPA Approved Contract Actions

  • Task Order 2, Amendment 0 – Property Appraisal Services Crown Appraisals, Inc. – $11,500
  1. OTHER BUSINESS

DA Board Approval MOU & Agreement Actions

Mr. Shockley addressed the Cass County and SE Cass MOUs for SEAI.

MOTION passed

Mr. Peterson made a motion to approve both of the MOUs as one item and Mr. Steen seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

            Formal Settlement Agreement for Upstream JPA

Mr. Shockley addressed the settlement agreement to dismiss the upstream litigation. Mr. Shockley indicated that it has been approved by all of the entities involved and that the MFDA is the last to approve.

MOTION passed

Dr. Mahoney made a motion to approve the formal settlement agreement for the upstream JPA and Mr. Jacobson seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, the motion carried.

Policy on the Disposition and Management of Comprehensive Project Lands

Mr. Nicholson indicated that the land committee tabled the policy as it needs additional work before being presented to the Board of Authority.

Property Acquisition Status Report

Mr. Dodds reported that all of the properties for the channel have been voluntarily acquired.

567 properties have been acquired to date and the Phase II flowage easement appraisals have been initiated on 494 properties. Negotiations continue on the Drain 27 parcels and land for the Red River control structure.

Overall, we continue to stay on budget and on schedule.

MFDA Organizational Chart

Ms. Darling walked through the organizational charts that included the board of authority, the MFDA leadership team and key project support.

  1. NEXT MEETING

The next meeting will be held on March 24, 2021. 

  1. ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 5:41PM.