BISMARCK, N.D. — Depressed oil prices and slumping drilling activity has cut revenue by half for a program aimed at helping communities deal with the effects of energy development.
The Oil and Gas Impact Grant Fund was projected to collect $6 million monthly from oil taxes over the next two-year budget cycle, but Land Commissioner Lance Gaebe said it is only collecting only about half of that now and efforts are underway to prioritize projects.
“We’re getting $3 million per month,” Gaebe told the Bismarck Tribune. “Yes, there is a concern.”
About $13 million in oil gross production tax dollars have been collected for the fund since July, when the state’s two-year budget cycle began. Last week, the land board approved $5 million in a total of seven grants for hospitals in western North Dakota’s oil patch.
The largest grant awarded was for more than $1.75 million to McKenzie County Memorial Hospital in Watford City. The smallest was $90,877 for Southwest Healthcare Services in Bowman.
The board also awarded $1 million to 11 groups that serve individuals with developmental disabilities in oil-producing areas.
Grants also historically have gone to schools, airports and emergency service providers in the state’s oil-producing region.
Gaebe said a plan is being developed “to moderate the pace of grant awards.” The plan is slated to be presented next month to the Land Board, which includes Gov. Jack Dalrymple, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer and state school superintendent.
The board oversees the state Department of Trust Lands, which manages rights to explore for oil, coal and other minerals beneath 2.5 million acres of land in North Dakota.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
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