Tribes seeking larger cut of ND oil tax money

Associated Press Modified: October 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm •  Published: October 8, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Three Affiliated Tribes will press for a bigger slice of the tax revenue from the oil pumped on its reservation, the tribe's tax director said Monday.

Production on the Fort Berthold reservation, in the heart of western North Dakota's oil country, has been responsible for $346 million in tax revenues over four years, the state Tax Department says. The tribe has collected $129 million, or 37 percent, of that sum.

North Dakota and the tribe have an agreement that details how the money is split. Last year, the tribe requested what its members thought was a more equitable share, but the Legislature rejected the proposal.

On Monday, a legislative committee that oversees state and tribal relations unanimously approved a resolution supporting the tribe's effort to get a larger share of oil revenues. However, the panel turned down a separate proposal to give the tribe 80 percent of the tax collections from tribal land.

"We need more resources to combat and battle the negative impacts of the boom," Mark Fox, the tribe's tax director, told The Associated Press. "We have a lot to deal with up there. Roads, and crime, and housing."

The 80 percent proposal likely will be introduced in the Legislature next session, said committee chairman Sen. David O'Connell, D-Lansford.

"I think they're getting shortchanged," O'Connell said. "Their roads are going to heck like ours are, and human services, the rising costs ... It's not all doom and gloom out there, but I think they need help."

The July 2008 tax and regulatory pact spurred a burst of oil drilling on the reservation. There are now 706 producing wells on the reservation, compared to 112 in 2008, according to the state Department of Mineral Resources.

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