Oil-producing counties make case for more funding
MINOT, N.D. - The state's oil-producing counties are building a united front to change how oil tax revenue is distributed so they can better keep up with rapid growth.
Members of the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties discussed new ways of allocating that money during their annual meeting Thursday in Minot.
"Our ultimate goal is to go into the legislative session in January with one voice with our western leaders and legislators to get our needs addressed and funded," said Dan Brosz, president of the group, which represents 19 counties that have oil, gas or leasing development.
The oil and gas industry pays a 5 percent gross production tax to the state in lieu of property taxes. A portion of that goes back to counties, cities and schools affected by the development, but western North Dakota leaders say it's not enough to support growing schools, taxed law enforcement agencies and infrastructure needs.
"We needed this money yesterday," said Rep. Shirley Meyer, D-Dickinson. "If we don't get our infrastructure shored up, this thing will crash."
Brosz, of Bowman, said the $135 million designated for energy impact grants have helped communities, but those dollars are one-time grants and don't allow local officials the ability to budget for the future.
Vicky Steiner, executive director of the organization, said if western communities don't get their share of oil tax revenue, residents will be forced to pay higher taxes to support the growth.