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Belfield, N.D., auditor resigns, citing oil boom, chronic rule-breakers

Belfield City Auditor Cindy Ewoniuk, left, reviews a map with Mayor Leo Schneider at a council meeting on Monday, July 7, 2014. (Mike Hricik/Dickinson Press)

BELFIELD, N.D. -- Chronic rule-breakers have forced a Belfield city official to quit, saying she fears her health will suffer if she stays in the job any longer.

Cindy Ewoniuk, the city's longtime auditor, submitted her resignation to the city council on Monday night. She was elected to the position in 2006 and served as auditor from 1995 to 2001.

Ewoniuk said newcomers to Belfield, including those attracted by the Bakken oil boom, consistently fail to follow city ordinances.

"My stress level, my health -- it's constant. Nobody wants to follow the rules," she said. "In the past two weeks, I've had people come down the steps screaming at me. I go home and do my work all night because I listen to people scream all day."

Belfield Police Chief Nicky Barnhard showed council members a recent video recording of a man shouting expletives at Ewoniuk after he refused to pay his water bill. The city had shut off the man's water after he went months without paying, Ewoniuk said.

After hearing the threatening language used, Belfield City Attorney Sandra Kuntz said she thought the man should be charged with disorderly conduct. Ewoniuk said she has simply had enough of the shouting matches.

"These guests in our state, they expect us to cater to them," Ewoniuk said. "They want to argue all day long until they get what they want."

Council member Harold Kubitscha said he disagrees with rosier impressions of the state's oil boom.

"This is a good thing, according to your governor," Kubitscha said.

Belfield Mayor Leo Schneider asked that Ewoniuk stay in her job a little longer than two weeks past her resignation. Ewoniuk agreed that she would. The city will publish a public notice advertising for the open position.

At the city's June 2 meeting, the council approved a six-month moratorium restricting the expansion of all new mobile homes, manufactured homes and workforce housing.

The city has simply struggled to keep up with disobedient landowners, Ewoniuk said.

"All week is spent as a real estate agent," she said. "The moratorium has helped, but the old junk properties have no inclination of following the (federal) floodplain (land management) rules."