Oil revenue impacting McLean County budget

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MCLEAN COUNTY Oil prices have been holding steady the past two months, which is good news for the industry.

However, counties that rely on oil and gas revenue to make up a portion of their budget have had to adjust in anticipation of fluctuation in price.

Due to shortfalls in revenue, McLean County Commissioners recently voted to borrow $123,000 to help cover general fund costs.

It's been a bumpy road for McLean County over the past couple of years.

"Just keep watching the pennies as they go in and out," said McLean County Auditor Les Korgel.

McLean County's budget includes oil and gas, coal production and sales tax revenue.

"When one decreases it puts pressures on the general fund to finance certain projects or operations," said North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.

Because of funding the county hasn't been able to install a new computer system and has had to reduce the purchases of vehicles for the sheriff's office.

"It doesn't sound like much but those items are $60,70 80,000 each," said Korgel.

The oil and gas revenue coming into the county is now starting to mirror pre-oil boom numbers.

"We could go back to say 2012, take those figures compare to 2017 it looks like the exact same year," said Korgel.

At the peak of the boom oil and gas revenue totaled around $1.8 million, by 2015 it dropped dramatically to $420,000, the numbers into the county were cut almost in half by 2016. Projected totals for 2017 are approximately $560,000, but changes might be on the horizon.

"Oil price is actually up 21 percent so revenues currently in the new bieniuem, should be running 20 percent higher then they were in the 15-17 biennium," said North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Directory Lynn Helms.

McLean County's new budget starts on Jan. 1.

The county will pay off the money borrowed by the end of this year.

Korgel says the 2018 budget passed in October, they plan on completing some road projects, but it all depends on cash flow.