$17 million awarded in energy impact aidDickinson, Williston and Minot received a funding pledge of nearly $17 million from the state on Thursday to help with energy impacts from North Dakota’s oil boom.
By: By Teri Finneman , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Dickinson, Williston and Minot received a funding pledge of nearly $17 million from the state on Thursday to help with energy impacts from North Dakota’s oil boom.
The Board of University and School Lands intends to award $9.6 million to Williston, $5.8 million to Dickinson and $1.4 million to Minot.
The soonest the cities can receive the money is July —when the next fiscal year begins — but state officials wanted to notify the cities earlier to help them with their planning.
The city of Dickinson asked for $12.6 million, primarily to help pay for a public works building and a wastewater treatment plant.
City Administrator Shawn Kessel said the state funding will help lessen the financial impact on local residents. The city has been asking developers to foot more of the bill when it comes to infrastructure as well, he said.
Williston submitted more than $50 million worth of funding requests to the state, primarily for water and sewer extension projects and a wastewater treatment plant expansion.
Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said the $9.6 million awarded will be “a tremendous help” and will go a long way in helping the city with its infrastructure challenges.
“This grant program has been a huge plus for communities like Williston, and we’ll put it (the money) to good use,” he said.
Taking into account energy impact funding awarded last year to the three biggest oil cities, the total awards for the 2011-13 biennium are $21.6 million for Williston, $10.8 million for Dickinson and $5.4 million for Minot.
Money for these grants comes from taxes paid to the state by the oil and gas industry. During the last session, the Legislature agreed the state could spend up to $100 million of this money during the 2011-13 biennium to help address needs in western North Dakota’s 17 oil- and gas-producing counties.
In November, the Legislature approved spending $30 million from the general fund for impact grants if oil and gas tax collections exceeded projections by at least $48 million, which they have.
Officials also heard an update on the grant requests from smaller cities and other political subdivisions in the Oil Patch.
The Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office received 78 applications from smaller oil cities asking for $178.6 million worth of help. The Land Board has preliminarily set aside $19.8 million in aid.
Officials are still determining these funding awards, but the primary focus will be on projects that support the creation of permanent housing, said Lance Gaebe, director of the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office. Having more affordable housing in these cities will help alleviate many of the region’s issues, he said.
The office also received 52 applications from other political subdivisions asking for $86.6 million for projects. There is $5 million slated for this grant round.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple said the state has the right process in place to ensure the grant program addresses the most serious impacts. There are other state, federal and local programs that can help with many of the funding requests, he said.
Gaebe said they focus on “what is truly an energy impact,” not wish lists when deciding awards.
In other business, the board made a handful of changes related to flood impact grants. This includes providing an additional $532,194 to Benson County, for a total of $1 million in aid. Ramsey County will receive an additional $557,480, for a total of $1 million in aid.
Teri Finneman is a Forum Communications Co.