Richland commissioners still frustrated by slow state funding

A $200 million allocation to the North Dakota General Fund was forecast to be nearly completed as of December 2021. A $400 million allocation to the strategic investments and improvements fund had not begun as of that time. A $59.8 million allocation to municipal/county and township infrastructure funds had also not begun.

Prior to the Richland County Board of Commissioners’ Christmas break, they shared their frustrations with not receiving at least $10 million in revenue from the state “Prairie Dog” bill to finance infrastructure.

The status of three “buckets,” included in information shared at a Tuesday, Jan. 4 meeting, caught the commissioners’ attention.

A $200 million allocation to the North Dakota General Fund was forecast to be nearly completed as of December 2021. A $400 million allocation to the strategic investments and improvements fund had not begun as of that time. A $59.8 million allocation to municipal/county and township infrastructure funds had also not begun.

“As with the municipal amounts, the timing of these distributions will be dependent on when the County and Township Infrastructure Fund bucket is filled during the (2021-2023) biennium,” the information stated. “Distributions will occur the month after the fund reaches its biennial cap of $115 million, or the end of the biennium if it doesn’t fill completely.”

Original forecasts showed distribution of the funds would happen during the second quarter of the 2021 calendar year, the information stated. It was also reported that oil and gas tax revenue as of December 2021 was significantly lower than originally forecasted amounts.

Despite this, it is believed that counties and townships should see funding from Prairie Dog this biennium based on current oil prices.

Earlier, by 5-0 vote, the commissioners voted to sell the lot at 110 Third St. N., Fairmount, North Dakota, for $1 to the city of Fairmount. The city is expected to demolish a dilapidated home on the property, which Commissioners Tim Campbell and Rollie Ehlert visited last fall.

“I think the foundation was shot on this house,” Ehlert said.

County Auditor Sandy Fossum explained that because there are special assessments on the land, the city of Fairmount is able to purchase it for $1 and without having to have a sale in the open market. In an open market sale, Fairmount could still bid for and potentially buy the property the same as any other interested owner-developer.

“(The city’s) a vested party,” Commissioner Nathan Berseth said. “I compliment the city of Fairmount for doing that.”

The next commission meeting will be held at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1 at the Richland County Courthouse.

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