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February 1, 2012     Sidney Herald
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February 1, 2012

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! 2A SUNDAY, JAN. 29, 2012 From page one SIDNEY HERALD Richland County great benefit for Monlana's bottom line BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD Williston, N.D., Mayor Ward Koeser probably said it best last fall while speaking to Montana legislators when he compared the state's support of fast-growing development to maintaining farm equip- ment: "You have to grease it. You have to give it the money it needs because that becomes a money-generating machine for your state." Translation: The oil industry can be a high- grossing revenue source for the state if only the communi- ties can get the support to con- trol growth and manage im- pacts. People in eastern Montana know just how important the oil and gas industry is to the region's economy. One may not realize how it's kept the state's economy afloat during uncertain times. In the last unemployment report released last week, the state's unemployment fell .3 percent to 6.8 percent. Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly said the decrease was due to agriculture and oil activity in eastern Montana. In recent weeks, news reports show the jobs that the oil fields create compensate for the loss of jobs elsewhere, particularly in tim- ber and manufacturing in western Montana. So just how important is it? "The oil and gas revenue re- ceived in the last biennium kept us from being in a deficit," Rep. Walt McNutt, R- Sidney. longtime legislator and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said. Taking a look at the Mon- tana Department of Revenue's figures for fiscal year 2010, the state withheld $107,641,181 in oil and gas production taxes, the third largest single tax col- lection after the state income tax and property tax. Richland County continues to be the highest oil producing county in the state. "The total picture of oil and gas revenue in Richland County is a lot of dollars that weren't there be- fore," McNutt said. As one might have guessed, the largest benefits to the state economy come from retail. When people make more, they spend more. Unfortunately, it's impossible to figure out how sales have been, since there is no sales tax in Montana. But one may get some idea by look- ing at the income taxes collect- ed by the state. Residents | County Collections Mean Tax Per Household [Roosevelt $4,570,824 $1,239 JDawson $6,684,536 $1,702 IMcCo,e SS33,SaO $1,246 lWibaux ,$604,454 $1,467 IYelow,stene $139,485,869 $2,067 [Missoula ........ 93,304775 ,,, SI,961 make more money, they pay higher taxes. According to data provided by the department, Richland County households paid the highest taxes in the state for 2010. The county's mere 4,684 households paid on average $2,782.76 in taxes for a lump sum of just over $13 million. Fallon County came in second at $2,545.17 paid in taxes. 'The oil and gas revenue received in the last biennium kept us from being in a deficit.' Walt McNult State representative Third highest taxes was Yel- lowstone with Missoula in fourth and Jefferson County in fifth. Montana Department of Revenue director Dan Bucks credits the top highest-paying counties to historic natural re- source development. Interestingly, Richland's neighboring counties and those with comparable house- hold numbers pay $1,000 less and most less than haft. Like Roosevelt, which had 3,689 households in 2010 that paid on average $1,239.04 for $4.5 million. Or Custer which came in at 5,250 households that paid a little more than $9 million. And there's more: Hill and Park counties which have households just above 7,000 each paid $10.1 million. Lake County with 12,593 house- holds paid $1,173.70 in taxes on average for a lump sum of $14.78 million. The state collects more than haft the oil production with the remaining split between county and schools, as well as a minute portion that goes to municipalities thanks to House Bill 758. Now when it comes to the state's share, one may be surprised at how it's divided. The vast majority of the oil and gas production tax for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 goes to the general fund at 90.23 percent and 90.22 per- cent, respectively. The next highest shares go to the Or- phan Share at 2.95 percent and the Montana University Sys- tem at 2.65 percent. These are all, of course, dol- lar figures, which when deal- ing with such a vast industry like oil, it can get complicated real quick. So what if something was to happen? It is no secret that if the hydraulic fracturing tech- nique used to extract oil from the Bakken was declared un- safe by the EPA in its current two-year study, the oil and gas industry here would virtually come to a halt. But would it have any affect on the econo- my? Bucks likens the loss to the cut in corporate license tax of fiscal year 2009 when the state lost millions in a tight reces- sion. "It's an important source, but it's not overwhelm- ing," he said. "It would be felt, but it would not be devastat- ing." He argues that Montana would not go in the red if it weren't for oil and gas since by law, the state must have a bal- anced budget, but the source of revenue is still important. "Natural resources overall play a very important role in the Montana economy. That's always been a history of the state," Bucks said. NEW CONCERN "This is a unique state in that we've gone through a pe- riod of time where natural re- sources have been a no-no," McNutt said, "and yet we want the revenue. But we don't do anything to support the natu- ral resource economy" And now there's more rea- son to be concerned. Local city, county and schools' lead- ers and legislators have been working to illustrate that with a far-reaching industry comes huge impacts. Infrastructure, landfills, aging sewer lagoons, lack of housing and thou- sands of miles of county road repair are among the prob- lems. And now that schools Hotels: False rumors could affect economic development FROM PAGE 1A The hotel chain plans to open around mid-May. He said the company will let the public know when reserva- tions are being accepted. The hotel rumors are being spread all across oil and gas country. Though it's true it can be near impossible at times to find vacancy in the region, in Williston, just like Sidney, the hotels that are be- ing built are not booked all to- gether for years at a time. "With every new hotel open- ing, there are rumors that they're being booked for three years," Amy Krueger, sales director at Williston Econom- ic Development, said. She said there are hotels that have contracted rooms, but "they're not solidly booked," nor are they "bought out by a company." "There are still hotel prop- erties, and with proper plan- ning you can get rooms...There are rooms available with due diligence, but they do need to book and plan ahead," she said. "We have a lot of new prop- erties coming to the area, and hopefully this will alleviate some of the hotel conges- tion." Richland Economic Devel- opment director Leslie Mess- er worries that the continued rumors of hotel rooms being booked already for years by oil companies may actually affect local business, and not in a good way. "This has huge implica- tions," said Messer, who's had six potential developers ap- proach her in recent weeks about delaying projects due to the belief of lack of rooms. It's a "why bother" attitude that could potentially harm economic growth. "It's just so frustrating when we're all working to- gether to meet the challenges of our community. When out- side sources are hearing from community members about this misformation, it takes so much time focusing on put- ting out fires that we can't fo- cus on the business at hand," she said. Steve Sparks with Microtel Inn and Suites located in south Sidney near McDon- ald's, said he's heard the ru- mors,which were "not even close to true" and agrees they could cause damage. "If it trickles into the consumer range, there could definitely be some negative repercus- sion," he said. "We don't want that to happen. We're going to bring 150 new rooms ad maybe another 225 in the next six months or so, so we want consumers to know we're open for business." The hotel chain is running ahead of schedule, thanks to a mild winter; the hotel could open a month sooffer than projected in mid-April, Sparks said, and "if all cards continue to be played right, but you never know," he said. lost significant revenue to deal with oil impacts, administra- tors are predicting even tougher times ahead; Sidney, for example, is expecting some 750 new students and will need room to grow. But now there has been re- cent attention given to Billings and the effects its city leaders and legislators claim they face; that may actually redi- rect oil and gas revenue away from directly-impacted com- munities in northeast Mon- tana to the state's largest city. "That's a valid concern," Mc- Nutt said. "What Billings wants Billings usually gets." McNutt said he has doubts the recent legislative bus tours which drew about 23 state law- makers in November and De- cember will actually make headway. He worries that what happened in Colstrip, where Oil and Natural Gas Production Tax Millions State Share 200 ............................................................................ t66.28 150 IO0 5O 73.75 105.84 108.27 108.t8 106.25 FY2OO4 FY2005 FY2006 FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 the mines were shut down, could happen in Richland County. "It's a very dangerous sentiment," he said. The county is in for some dramatic changes, which the oil and gas revenue must sup- pert. "This community has some huge impacts coming in sewer, water, the landfills," McNutt said, as well as grow- ing pressure on law enforce- ment and the local education system. "The schools will ex- perience a lot, and they lost a lot of the revenue they're go. ing to need." rep0rteridnerald.c0m Construction to begin this spring on Phase II of Cancer Care Center Sidney Health Center and the Foundation for Commu- nity Care are pleased to an- nounce construction of Phase II of the Cancer Care Center will begin later this spring. ' large anonymous dona- tion is making our dreams come true for Phase II of the Cancer Care Center," Staci Miller, the founda- tion's executive director, said. Although ongoing events and private donations con- tinue to be accepted for the Cancer Care Center, admin- istrators at Sidney Health Center said the significant donation made it possible to start the bidding process for Phase II and begin construc- tion. "We are very appreciative of the community's support and excited to bring our can- cer care services into one convenient location within the next year," Rick Harald- son, Sidney Health Center CEO, said. Phase II involves renovat- ing Suite 103 in the clinic and building a private en- trance to the Cancer Care Center. Upon completion of the project, all outpatient cancer care services will be centralized, enhancing and streamlining patient care for 'A large anonymous donation is making our dreams come true for Phase II of the Cancer Care Center.' Staci Miller Foundation for Communily Care those going through treat- ment. The renovation in- cludes adding four chemotherapy and IV thera- py infusion rooms with a centralized nursing station as well as providing desig- nated clinic space for the vis- iting medical oncologist. Currently, the medical on- cology department is located in the ER area which utilizes one of the ER bays as well as an office/treatment room to administer chemotherapy and IV therapies. "We can hardly wait to see this project to completion. Our chemotherapy and IV therapy patients will see the benefits first hand from im- proved privacy to personal- ized care," Judy Carda, RN; Cancer Care manager, said. "Plus, the new infusion rooms will have windows, which I think our patients are most excited about espe- cially for those with longer sessions." Funds continue to be raised to meet the $1.4 mil- lion goal. In fact, the founda- tion will be hosting an an- tique auction at the Rich- land County Fair Event Cen- ter in Sidney on April 21. The event titled, "Braving Cancer with Hope and An- tiques" is a collaborative ef- fort with the Good Cents Store, which is an outreach service of Sidney Health Center. All proceeds wiU ben- efit Phase II of the Cancer Care Center. To date, nearly 1,000 gener- ous people have made gifts specifically to the Cancer Care Center with funds raised through grants, brick sales, community events, an- nual events and private do- nations. Commemorative naming opportunities are still available through dona- tions to the Foundation for Community Care. To donate to the Cancer Care Center fund, send your gift to the Foundation for Community Care at 221 Sec- ond St N.W., Sidney, MT 59270 or call 488-2273. i i In Alemory, Forever Order your granite or bronze marker and monuments by March 15 to ensure installation before Memorial Day. Custom Designs Shaped Carving Written Unconditional Guarantee "It's all about saying Goodbye" For additional information, contact Michael or AI at: Fulkerson Funeral Home Sidney, MT, 406-488-2805