More Money to Oil Country | VideoJennifer Joas | 1/30/2013
The oil industry has barreled its way through western North Dakota, impacting every entity it comes into contact with.
"There are critical needs out there, and at this point we continue to put band aids on them," said ND Petroleum Council President Ron Ness.
With local communities getting less than 20 percent of the oil production tax revenue back for improvements, they say, it`s just not enough.
"We get the feeling you`re going, look at the money we gave you. I`m very happy with that, don`t get me wrong. But we also have to look at, look what it`s costing us," said Greg Boschee from Mountrail County.
Representative Kenton Onstad (D) from Parshall is backing a bill to direct 80 percent of oil production tax revenues back to local municipalities. It will be divided among cities, schools, counties and townships. "I believe now is the time we need to address and solve our road and water infrastructure needs, and probably to do so immediately. I think we have a short window to make some corrections that have been created in the past,"
But other legislators say giving close to $1.5 billion dollars back to the oil producing counties will take away from other state relief programs they`ve set up. They also have concerns about how the money will be spent.
"Just to ship money out there without any knowledge as to how it`s going to be sent, I don`t know how prudent that is of us to do," said Montpelier Representative Craig Headland (R).
This bill would only last for two years, and then would revert back to the current distribution formula.
The oil producing counties also asked the legislature to look at long term funding increases past the two years this bill would provide.