NDACo News

NDACo News

Infrastructure Funding a High Priority for ND Counties

Posted 3/15/23 (Wed)

Donnell Preskey | Government/Public Relations Specialist


In this Legislative Session, among the highest priorities for the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo) and our member counties is infrastructure funding. Counties need the Legislature’s support to address the tremendous road and bridge needs that span across the state.

NDACo is supporting legislation to provide counties with more reliable, long-term funding solutions for infrastructure. Efforts to remove or reduce the $400 million Strategic Improvements and Investment Fund (SIIF) bucket that sits ahead of the funding stream to cities, counties, townships and airports failed in the Senate. But there are several other proposals crossing over that focus on infrastructure funding. Those include:

  • SB 2329 Excise tax to township and county roads
  • SB 2367 State Bucket increases (currently increases buckets ahead of Prairie Dog)
  • HB 1379 Streams Bill which includes $100 million for local bridges, $60 million into the State Highway Distribution Fund and $15 million for Agriculture Infrastructure
  • HB 1012 NDDOT Budget
  • HB 1020 NDSU Extension and Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) Budget

The need for a permanent funding structure to address roads and bridges is only increasing. The county/township road network includes about 6,600 miles of paved roads, 59,000 miles of gravel roads and 32,000 miles of unsurfaced roads. In comparison, the state manages about 7,400 miles of paved roadway.

The most recent Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s Local Roads Study identifies a $10.5 billion dollar need for local roads and bridges over the next 20 years, or, on average, an investment of $525 million each year. For comparison, in 2019 UGPTI’s estimate was an $8.7 billion investment for local roads and bridges over 20 years, or $440 million a year to maintain their road networks. The full report can be found at www.ugpti.org/downloads/road_needs/2021-2023-legislative-study-report.pdf.

State funding for infrastructure to local governments relieves some pressure on property taxes to fund roads and bridges. It’s also important to highlight the financial commitment counties and local citizens are making for infrastructure projects.

Summary on Tax Year 2021 Road Levies:

  • 48 of 53 counties levy 10 or more mills for roads
  • 16 counties levy 20 or more for roads
  • 2 counties levy 40 mills for roads
  • Property taxes for roads equals $67.3 million

In addition, voters in 28 of 29 counties approved additional road levies during the 2022 election cycle.

We appreciate the support many legislators have provided to enhance infrastructure funding across the state.


Of course, counties are incredibly grateful for the actions of the 2019 Legislature when “Operation Prairie Dog” was approved. support for this bill centered around the desire to share oil and gas tax revenues with non-oil counties, cities, townships and airports. The 2019 Legislators recognized there are infrastructure needs across the state; and while infrastructure funding was focused in the west for several sessions, lawmakers knew it was time to invest in infrastructure in those non-oil areas of the state.

Non-oil counties received their first distribution of Prairie Dog funds in January 2023. These funds have been long awaited, and counties are anxious to put them to good use across North Dakota. The Prairie Dog buckets were tracking to fill in 2020; however, due to the dramatic impact the COVID pandemic had on our state’s oil industry, revenues stopped short of reaching the Prairie Dog buckets for counties and townships at the end of the 2021 biennium.