May 12, 2020

City asks county for help paying for road projects

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

With Watford City’s oil and gas and city sales tax revenues plummeting due to a huge drop in oil production, as well as the slowing of city sales tax receipts due to COVID-19, the city of Watford City has requested from the McKenzie County commissioners $8,299,828 to help pay for three road projects currently underway.
“In the past 60 days, we have seen our city government go from operating at full cylinders to speculating how many people a city can get by on,” stated Laura Dokken, Watford City finance director during the commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, May 5. “We have seen a huge drop in our Gross Production Tax (GPT) receipts and are asking the county to fill the gap for the road projects.”
According to Dokken, because of low oil prices, which are forcing oil companies to shut in wells, the city was initially anticipating a 50 percent drop in GPT receipts. But she now believes that drop in revenue will be even greater.
“We don’t know how much the drop will be as projections are hard to determine,” states Dokken. “We’re expecting severe and dramatic decreases as more and more wells are shut in.”

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