- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - Williston is eliminating extra money paid to city employees to help them with the higher cost of living in the western North Dakota oil patch hub.

As oil activity peaked in the Bakken, rental rates in Williston skyrocketed. In 2014, rates equaled or exceeded rents in New York City and Los Angeles. In 2011, Williston implemented retention and housing bonuses to retain workers.

“We couldn’t attract employees, so we wanted rent as something we can control,” Mayor Howard Klug said.

The effort has cost the city nearly $2 million per year, according to the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/29R9Qxa ).

Activity in the oil patch has recently slowed due to low crude prices, and much more housing is available. The supplemental income program will be phased out over two years, Klug said.

Rents for city-supplied housing that were lower than market-rate housing will rise at the beginning of next year, at the same time as a stipend reduction goes into effect for city workers.

A housing retention bonus for those living in non-city supplied housing will be decreased then eliminated by the start of 2018, according to Personnel Director Randy Donnelly.

“The city would be out of the housing business, I guess you could say,” he said.

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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