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Booming Oil Towns Prepare For Inevitable Bust

Wed, 10/16/2013 - 1:45pm
James MacPherson and Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Associated Press

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) -- In the oil fields of Texas and North Dakota, communities that are enjoying the most prosperous economic boom in a generation are increasingly thinking about the days after the surge in drilling is over.

Cities like Midland, Texas, are mindful that the runaway riches will eventually run out. So they are taking steps to ensure their towns make a soft landing.

Midland Mayor Wes Perry warns his neighbors not to "go overboard" because the good times can't last forever.

When the energy market eventually declines, the town wants to avoid being burdened with crushing debt or too many employees. So sales tax revenue is used only for one-time projects, such as street repairs. Police officers are hired piecemeal, two or three a year, as the population increases.

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