County Research Connections
|Hydraulic Fracturing Brings Economic Boom to North Dakota Counties|(read more)3 weeks ago | 0
Over the past ten years the hydraulic fracturing industry has revolutionized the economies of several North Dakota counties. Dunn County, McKenzie County, Mountrail County and Williams County, all located in the northwest portion of the state, benefited greatly, with the boom creating new jobs and improving the economies of these counties.
Hydraulic Fracturing is a process that allows for the collection of oil and natural gas by applying pressurized liquid to rock formations. All four counties are located on the Bakken Formation, which is prime territory for fracturing. Oil production on the formation has significantly increased; in 2013, over 80% of the oil production in N.D. came from these four counties.
The growth of fracturing has led to N.D. becoming a major producer of crude oil in the U.S. – in August 2013, the state produced over 900,000 barrels of oil a day, behind only Texas among states. From 2005 to 2011, the number of people employed in the oil and gas sectorincreased from 6,000 to 35,000, with the majority of these jobs being created along the Bakken Formation. In 2011 ...
|Alabama Counties Receive Funding for Roads and Bridges in Need|(read more)6 weeks ago | 0
Alabama counties are tackling the national problem of deteriorating roads, highways, and bridges through an innovative partnership with the state department of transportation that couples federal highway dollars and local matching funds.
The project known as the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program or ATRIP, began in early 2012 with local governments afforded the opportunity to compete for funding of projects emphasizing safety, economic development, congestion and the growing problem of bridges closed to school bus traffic. In the 18 months that have followed, three additional application cycles produced applications from every county, scores of cities and universities.
ATRIP was initiated by Governor Robert Bentley with the support of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama and the Association of County Engineers of Alabama. Utilizing the so-called GARVEE bond program authorized in the federal transportation legislation, Alabama will issue bonds to cover 80 percent of the program cost and repay the bonds with future federal gasoline tax revenue.
To receive funding, counties and cities submitted applications to ALDOT. A committee selected by the Governor analyzed each proposal and provided recommendations to Gov. Bentley. Selected projects received...
|A New Benefit for NACo Members – MMA Municipal Issuer Brief| (read more)2 months ago | 0
Municipal bonds are the most important financing tools for counties. They provide counties, states and other local governments with needed money to finance essential long-term infrastructure projects, such as schools, hospitals, roads and bridges. Not only are municipal bonds safe investments, but also the interest earned from them has been tax-exempt, making them an attractive option for investors.
NACo members can go to this link and sign up to receive the weekly brief.
The MIBdiscusses one major subject in detail every week. For example, the inaugural edi...
|Eyeing the TIGER Grants|(read more)3 months ago | 0
Counties play an essential role in building, maintaining and operating the nation’s infrastructure. Many of their projects go beyond their jurisdictional boundaries and benefit to a larger sway of municipalities. To assist in this effort, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created in 2009 the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program that helps states and local governments with their transportation projects. At the beginning of this month, the U.S. DOT recently announced the 2013 TIGER round of grants and grantees. Over 50 projects in 37 states received more than $470 million in funding for infrastructure projects critical to national and local needs through this discretionary grant program. County governments are involved in 14 projects with a total investment of nearly $140 million.
These 14 projects are located throughout the country, with nine in the West and South and the rest in the Central and the Northeast regions. In only four grants, counties are the direct applicant, such as Pima Count...
|Follow the Money|(read more)3 months ago | 0
Counties depend on the strength of their economies to generate healthy revenue streams. The U.S. economy has been recovering overall, even that unemployment rates are still above seven percent and housing prices are still below pre-recession peaks. While the data from the U.S. Census of Governments on 2012 county revenue sources has not been released yet, the 2007 figures provide a baseline for counties’ sources of revenue before the recession.
Counties collected more than $525 billion in revenue in 2007, with more than a third coming from taxes such as residential property taxes, commercial or business property taxes and personal property taxes. Property taxes are the bulk of the tax revenue raised by counties, at almost 60 percent. While the 2008 housing crisis affected counties’ residential property tax revenues, the strength and timing of the effects vary county by county. There is often a lag in the effect of changes in housing prices on property tax revenue since properties are taxed on the assessed values of the houses, which may lag for years if the county has a long assessment cycle.
|A Fair Investment |(read more)4 months ago | 0
When the weather is warm and the nights are long, county fairs — one of America’s longest traditions — give an economic boost to communities during the summer and are a revenue generator for county governments. Despite a slight drop off in attendance during the economic downturn, county fairs are still thriving, with attendance up and more fiscal and economic benefits to the communities they showcase.
County fairs bring businesses and visitors who contribute to the local economy and support local jobs. In addition to county residents, county fairs attract visitors from outside the county, bringing tourism dollars into the communities through spending on lodging, at local restaurants and for other goods and services. While many county fairs are supported by volunteer networks, county fairs support jobs, often a significant number for rural communities in which fairs are traditio
nally held. For example, the Nevada County Fair in California created 200 jobs within the community in 2009– these are jobs with the fair organizers and commercial businesses, as well as with local vendors and suppliers experiencing increases in business. County ...
|ACA Implementation Checkup|(read more)4 months ago | 0
This October, Americans will be able to enroll in health insurance plans through the newly created state-based health insurance Marketplace – formerly known as “exchanges.” In addition, depending on the state they live in, more Americans may qualify for coverage under Medicaid expansion. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law in 2010, made possible these new health insurance coverage mechanisms. This expansion will have a significant impact on counties as county governments provide health care services to many of their residents.
Counties in a number of states are required by state law to provide health services to low-income, chronically ill and uninsured people. The ACA will help alleviate this burden. Individuals with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible for federal premium tax credits to help pay for private health insurance. Through the state-based Marketplace, Americans can compare insurance options by price, benefits and quality to find the plan that best suits their needs....
|Starving for Change|(read more)5 months ago | 0
Food insecurity is a problem that hits every corner of the nation and affects families in counties across the country. Moreover, county officials have the power to help their communities gain access to this most basic staple while making their local economies more resilient, by promoting local food systems and collaborating with public and private partners in overcoming this challenge.
The lack of access and limited and uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food – in other words, foods insecurity – is a national problem. Fifty million people are food insecure in the United States, of which 17 million are children. There are many factors contributing to a household’s access to food including poverty, income, unemployment, homeownership and food prices. The federal government pays special attention to household income and determines a household eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – more commonly known as food stamps – based on this indicator. However, more than a quarter of food insecure individuals have incomeshigher than the eligibility threshold for most food assistance programs, creating an even greater need for additional solutions to this ...
|Natrona County: Using Data for a Smarter Juvenile Justice System|
Counties around the country experiment and innovate in the area of justice and public safety, making our society safer and helping offenders to become healthy and productive citizens again. For example, Natrona County, Wyoming’s new big data pilot program for juvenile justice just got active last month – a program focused on increasing the effectiveness of the county’s juvenile system. This is the latest among a series of successful initiatives for the county in the area of juvenile justice.
Natrona County is well-known in the area of juvenile justice in Wyoming. In 2008, the county was honored by the Wyoming State Advisory Council on Juvenile Justice as well as the office of the governor for its earlier initiatives in this area. These honors were due to the incredible success of cutting by 99 percent its use of secure detention facilities for less serious and non-violent offenses by minors like underage drinking. In addition, in the same year, the county built a new, friendlier juvenile detention center after receiving stimulus funds.
Now, the county is transforming its juvenile justice system in another way... (read more)5 months ago | 0
|PILT Traditions Upheld at 2013 WIR Conference|(read more)6 months ago | 0
Each year, NACo and the Western Interstate Region (WIR) — an organization that represents the interests of all western counties– co-host a conference to discuss legislative priorities for this geographic area. Last month, Coconino County, Ariz. kept the tradition alive as the seat for the 2013 WIR Conference.
The WIR has played a major role in the establishment of a full-time presence for the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C.
One common factor for Western counties is the large percentage of federal land within their borders, on which they cannot collect property taxes from federal land. In order to compensate local governments for the decreased tax revenue, the U.S. government began the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program in 1976. Two decades before the PILT Program started, western counties created WIR to advocate on the issue of federal lands within counties. According to the publication Serving America’s Counties: A History of the National Association of Counties (1999), they were also strong supporters of creating a full-time National Association of Counties office in Washington, DC.
PILT is a major issue for WIR co...
|Preparing for the Brunt of the Storm|(read more)7 months ago | 0
After the devastating tornado in Oklahoma this May, people across the country question if they are prepared if a storm hit their area. Counties serve as a vital resource for ensuring the safety of their residents during an emergency. Encouraging emergency preparedness is a key step in keeping residents safe when a disaster occurs. For years, county officials throughout the country have been promoting the importance of preparing for storms and other disasters.
For example, Peoria County, Ill. provides checklists of necessary steps in preparing an emergency kit as well as in arranging plans for keeping in touch with family members during and after a storm. In addition, the county encourages citizens to join the Peoria County Medical Reserve Corps in getting the community better prepared. Through this group, medical and non-medical volunteers promote preparedness in their local neighborhood. With available training, members also assist in responding after a disaster.
Other counties have utilized technology to prepare and notify their residents. For ex...
|Counties and Foundations Team Up to Improve Railroad Safety in Ohio|(read more)7 months ago | 0
Counties collaborate with different stakeholders to help execute their policies — foundations are one such partner, helping counties stretch their dollars by providing additional funds. Medina County’s (Ohio) Railway Safety Taskforce recently celebrated its 100th meeting and the great improvements in railway safety it achieved over the years, partly the result of its collaboration with the Angels on Track Foundation. This partnership is instructive in the area of railway safety and because it shows the possibilities of county-foundation partnerships.
In 2002, Medina County Commissioner and Railroad Safety Taskforce chair Pat Geissman reached out to the Angels on Track Foundation and built a partnership with the foundation to help fund the taskforce. According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), there were six crashes between a car and a train at Medina County railroad crossings in 2003, the first year after the taskforce formed. But the partnership, with additional funding coming from the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC), PUCO, the North American Railway Foundation, an...