NDACo News

NDACo News

Operation Prairie Dog Payouts Have Begun

Posted 11/30/22 (Wed)

First Infrastructure Dollars Issued This Week
Non-Oil Cities/Counties Get Remainder in February

Geoff Simon | Executive Director, Western Dakota Energy Association

Cities in non-oil producing counties received their first payout under "Operation Prairie Dog" this week, and the remainder of the money provided by the infrastructure funding program is expected to be paid out in February.

The first of the "buckets" filled last month, a total of $59,750,000, which is to be split evenly between the state's larger cities and non-oil producing counties. State Treasurer Thomas Beadle said payments were issued to cities this week based on the distribution formula provided in the legislation (HB 1066) enacted by the 2019 Legislature. Cities with a population of more than 5,000 will received $2.5 million each, cities with a population between 2,000 and 5,000 will receive $500,000, and cities between 1,000 and 2,000 people will receive $125,000. The other half of the funds will be deposited in the County and Township Fund to be distributed based on road and bridge needs.

Money for the payouts comes from gross production taxes (GPT) on oil and gas. Beadle said based on current projections of oil tax revenue, he expects the remaining buckets will fill in January, with payouts being made in February. The legislation provides a total of $230 million to non-oil producing cities, counties and townships. Cities are allocated $115 million, counties $100 million, and townships will get $15 million. Non-oil counties are defined as those that receive less than $5 million annually in oil and gas tax revenue under the GPT distribution formula.

The law specifies that the funds are to be used only for "essential infrastructure projects." The list includes water and wastewater treatment plants; sewer lines and water lines, including lift stations and pumping systems; water storage systems; storm water infrastructure; road and bridge infrastructure; airport infrastructure; electricity transmission infrastructure; natural gas transmission infrastructure; and communications infrastructure. Political subdivisions receiving the funds are required to report to the legislature how the funds are used. Failing to do so, or using the funds inappropriately, will result in loss or reduction of future payouts.

Remaining funds will be distributed when the second pair of buckets fills. City allocations are based on population, population growth and valuation of taxable property. County payouts are based on the road and bridge needs study produced by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.

Naturally, the state's largest city, Fargo, will be see the largest amount, just under $24 million. Bismarck will receive about $14.7 million, Grand Forks will get about $12.7 million, and West Fargo will receive about $10.5 million. Some of the larger amounts among non-oil cities in western North Dakota include Beulah at $978,000, Hazen gets $860,000, Burlington and Surrey about $355,000 each, Garrison and Washburn about $350,000 each, Velva $294,000, Hettinger $290,000, Richardton $177,000, Beach and Belfield around $155,000, New England $149,000, Underwood $147,000, Kenmare $144,000 and Mohall $107,000. Click here to see the full list of projected city payouts.

Of the $100 million allocated to counties, Cass will get the biggest share of the projected payout at about $6.42 million. Ward County will get $5.56 million, Grand Forks County will receive $5.35 million, Richland County $4.84 million, and Burleigh County $4.16 million.

Among western counties, Bottineau will get the biggest chunk at $3.67 million, Stark County will receive $3.62 million, McLean County gets $3.55 million, McHenry County gets $2.72 million, Mercer County will get $2.2 million, Renville receives $1.47 million, Golden Valley gets $1.29 million and Hettinger County will receive $1.2 million. Click here to see the full list of estimated county payouts.