Gov. Dalrymple makes stop in oil countryWith energy development continuing to impact area infrastructure, Dickinson could have a shot at a slice of $35 million in impact funds, said Gov. Jack Dalrymple during a visit to The Dickinson Press on Tuesday afternoon.
With energy development continuing to impact area infrastructure, Dickinson could have a shot at a slice of $35 million in impact funds, said Gov. Jack Dalrymple during a visit to The Dickinson Press on Tuesday afternoon.
“We feel that we’ve been able to make a very strong response to the needs of the oil country,” Dalrymple said.
While the budget is subject to Legislature approval, the largest aspect for Dickinson is an increase in the oil and gas energy impact fund, from the present $8 million to $100 million for the coming biennium, Dalrymple said.
“Of that $100 million, $35 million will be allocated specifically to larger cities in oil country and that means Dickinson, Williston and Minot — so if you have oil impacts, rather than having to compete with every little small town, every little township, you’ll be competing with your peers, just the other two large cities,” Dalrymple said.
Allotments of the $35 million will be granted via an application process.
Interested cities file an application with the state land board made up of five elected officials. The board is advised by the Energy Development Impact Office director who will recommend projects with the greatest impacts. The board will then make final decisions on fund distributions.
The application process has undergone changes.
“It used to be two annual rounds of grants and now we’re going to go to a quarterly grant round so every 90 days people will be able to apply for something else,” Dalrymple said.
Unsuccessful applications can be resubmitted to the next round and the possibility of application revisions exists between rounds, Dalrymple said.
“We want it to be very timely because some of these things come up very unexpectedly,” Dalrymple said.
Mayor Dennis Johnson said he is pleased with the proposed budget and feels Dalrymple recognizes oil hub cities are being impacted.
While any decisions are up to the Dickinson City Commission as to which projects will take precedence, Johnson said renovations of the Highway 22 and Villard Street underpass as well as upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant are high on the priority list.
“Dickinson, in particular, is in kind of a unique position because while it’s an energy impact city, it’s not in a county that’s a large producer of oil,” Johnson said.
The overall budget includes a lot of money for roads, Dalrymple said.
About $229 million from the permanent oil tax trust fund was allotted in the budget for “oil country” state road reconstruction — an amount above and beyond any money otherwise coming from the Department of Transportation, Dalrymple said.
For the first time in history, the budget includes a “special” fund for county and township roads in oil country, about $142 million, after the Upper Great Plains Institute identified county roads needing immediate reconstruction.
“We consider this getting over the hump, so to speak, on rebuilding some of the key county roads,” Dalrymple said.
Some money is also allotted on a cost-share basis for unpaved roads in counties and townships, he said.
“That’s going to be a big boost because the money will go according to the study where the worst problems are,” he said.
City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Thursday Dickinson will have an estimated $70 million in expenses this biennium, with nearly $110 million in capital projects.
“Every one of them can be attached in some way with growth, either by exacerbating a current problem or creating a new one,” Kessel said.
Pam Sharp, director of the state’s Office of Management and Budget, said of the nine budgets she has worked on, this proposed budget is “more unique than any.”
Overall, nearly $1 billion is proposed to be available to “oil country” for infrastructure, Dalrymple said.
“We think it’s well-justified because this is what it’s going to take to keep the development of the oil counties moving forward,” he said. “If we don’t stay on top of that, it is going to begin to retard the development.”