Counties Concerned Over Oil Tax Funds

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Some county officials feel betrayed by what’s happened in recent days in the legislature. They’re talking about changes to the formula for sending oil taxes back to counties where oil is produced. As Jim Olson reports, the issue comes down to keeping key roads open for oil production to grow.

(Jim Olson, KX News) Mix gravel roads and a busy oil facility and you can have problems with those gravel roads. That’s something some county officials are especially worried about given some actions in the state legislature recently.

(Scott Duerre, Mountrail Co. Road & Bridge Dept.) “This doesn’t have a lot of aggregate on it. The shoulders are failing.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) Scott Duerre spends a lot of time trying to keep county and township roads passable for farm and oil traffic.

(Scott Duerre, Mountrail Co. Road & Bridge Dept.) “We try to help out the best we can with blading and things like that, trying to re-shape them, but it comes down to a money thing.”

(Arlo Borud, Mountrail Co. Commission Chairman) “We need that money.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) Mountrail County Commission Chairman Arlo Borud says a late-session amendment to the formula for sending Gross Oil Production Tax money back to counties is a big blow.

(Arlo Borud, Mountrail Co. Commission Chairman) “That would be devastating. Especially for the townships.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) He says the change made in Senate Bill 2013 would chop more than 60% from what townships in oil-producing counties would get to rebuild and replace roads that take a beating from delivering the oil to market.

(Arlo Borud, Mountrail Co. Commission Chairman) “Basically most of the oil from Mountrail County comes from the townships. So they’re using township roads to get to the major county roads and state highways.”

(Trudy Ruland, Mountrail Co. Commissioner) ” The township roads are the feeders, the industrial roads really to each individual location.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) Commissioner Trudy Ruland says, since oil companies don’t own land they’re pumping from, they pay no property tax. The Gross Production Tax takes the place of property taxes.

(Trudy Ruland, Mountrail Co. Commissioner) “So in a sense they’re already paying for these roads. But what happens is the money they’re paying in to the state is not getting back to where it’s being produced.”

(Daryl Dukart, Western Dakota Energy Association) “We’ll take about two-thirds less than what we have in the past biennium.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) Daryl Dukart of the Western Dakota Energy Association says his group is trying to turn the situation around.

(Daryl Dukart, Western Dakota Energy Association) “We’re aproaching all the representatives and we’re approaching senators and we’re trying to work this thing. Hopefully we’ll come out with no loss and actually even to what we were in the past biennium.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) As far as Arlo Borud is concerned, that’s the only outcome that would be right.

(Arlo Borud, Mountrail Co. Commission Chairman) “We just gotta have it to keep this flowing.”

In Stanley, Jim Olson, KX News.

 

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