Fortuna's forte is an efficient government

BISMARCK, N.D. - The phrase "Smaller Government" is used a lot by politicians and taxpayers.

Shrinking the size of state, federal, county and city bureaucracies is easier said than done.

However, one tiny North Dakota town has elected a mayor and city council who really are "public" servants, and are keeping the cost of government to a bare minimum.

Plowing Main Street is part of the job description for the mayor of Fortuna, N.D.

Gary Rust is also the auditor and the town's public works department.

"It keeps me out of trouble," said Rust.

If the civic duty is too big for one person to handle, helping hands are provided by one of the two businesses in town.

"The sewer and water issues that come up, Gary and I get together, look at it, decide what's wrong and what's the best fix and we fix it and come over here and have a beer," said Teacher's Lounge co-owner Mike Ferris.

City Hall once was located in a room adjacent to the town bar, now a former FEMA flood relief trailer is the seat of government.

"It fits our needs for a smaller town; we don't need a lot of room for meetings. If we do, we can go across the street to the senior citizens," said Rust.

Thirty people live in Fortuna. The city limits cover one-square mile.

Rust won the last election by five or six votes. He plans to run again, because who else is qualified to run the town, all by themselves?

Fortuna was founded in 1913. The town's name comes from the Roman goddess of fortune and was chosen by Soo Line railroad officials to enhance the expectations of pioneers about the prosperity settlers would find in the remote northwest corner of North Dakota.