$855M available for western NDBISMARCK — North Dakota has committed $1.2 billion to address the impacts of oil and gas development in the western part of the state and help is on the way, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Tuesday.
BISMARCK — North Dakota has committed $1.2 billion to address the impacts of oil and gas development in the western part of the state and help is on the way, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Tuesday.
Dalrymple and other state officials offered an update on the state aid available to the 17 oil- and gas-producing counties during a news conference at the Capitol.
Between July 1 and Oct. 31, $312 million was allocated to help with infrastructure, water and housing needs, leaving $885 million of spending to come in the next 20 months, Dalrymple said.
“These resources are going to be pushed out the door day after day, month after month toward all of these concerns,” he said.
The money will have “a tremendous impact” on rebuilding and repairing roads, assisting residential growth, addressing rapidly growing student enrollment, enhancing law enforcement and other emergency services, and developing and upgrading water systems, Dalrymple said.
Of the $1.2 billion, $347 million comes from gross production taxes paid to the state by oil companies. The remaining money includes state general fund, state resources trust fund and federal funding.
The majority of the financial help will be committed in 2012, Dalrymple said. In the meantime, western North Dakota cities are working on strategies every day to help with the housing shortage, and the state is working to make its programs flexible to help them, he said.
Officials said it takes time to plan and implement projects, which is why more of the state funding wasn’t spent immediately. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson also said part of the financial aid is money the state doesn’t have yet because the budget is based on revenue the state expects to collect throughout the 2011-13 biennium.
Of the $312 million that has been spent, the Department of Transportation spent $120 million on regular road projects in oil-producing counties. This included improvements to Highway 85 between Watford City and Williston.
Future plans are for Highway 85 to become an undivided four-lane highway between Watford City and Williston, a news release said. Remaining federal aid will be used for projects that include Highway 2 north of Williston and North Dakota highways 5, 22, 23, 40, 50 and 1804.
The Legislature also set aside $228.6 million for state highways affected by increased oil traffic. Projects include Highway 22 from Dickinson north to Highway 23, Highway 23 east and west of New Town, and Highway 8 north and south of Stanley.
A truck reliever route is planned for Williston, with additional routes under consideration for Dickinson, Alexander, New Town and Watford City, a news release said.
Dalrymple also highlighted changes to the state’s housing incentive fund, which will support the development of affordable housing, said Mike Anderson, executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.
Individuals and business who pay North Dakota state income taxes and contribute to the fund can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. The credits can now be fully claimed in the year the contribution is made.
Contributions made before Dec. 31 will support construction next spring, said Jolene Kline of the Housing Finance Agency.
Dalrymple and other state officials plan to visit western North Dakota in the coming weeks to get updates on the latest issues and needs. Dalrymple has also created a Western North Dakota Energy Development Information Exchange Council to address energy development issues.
The council includes state officials, western North Dakota residents and energy industry representatives. The next meeting is Dec. 21 in Bismarck.
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.