ND cities, counites await oil-fueled infrastructure funding

BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota’s largest cities outside the oil-producing region in the western part of the state are awaiting millions of dollars for infrastructure projects, while the state’s smallest towns that haven’t benefited from oil production will at least get a few hundred dollars each under a major spending initiative approved by the Legislature three years ago.

Fargo, the state’s largest city, will get nearly $24 million under Operation Prairie Dog, named for the industrious burrowing mammal. Ruso, the state’s smallest incorporated town of just three people north of Bismarck, will get $463.37, according to state data estimates.

Estimates show Bismarck will receive $14.7 million followed by Grand Forks at $12.7 million, West Fargo at $10.7 million, and Mandan at $7.4 million.

The legislation that got wide support followed complaints from lawmakers in non-oil producing areas who wanted a bigger share of oil tax revenues for their projects back home.

The legislation reconfigures oil tax distributions to set aside $250 million in every two-year budget cycle for counties, cities and airports in non-oil producing areas for such things as roads, bridges and airport projects.

Municipalities get $115 million total. Counties and townships get a combined $115 million, and $20 million is set aside for airport improvements.

City funding is based on population and percentage increases in population and property taxes, state Treasurer Thomas Beadle said. Counties and township allocations are based on road miles.