Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement
Fargo City Attorney Erik Johnson talks about the proposed half-cent sales tax for flood control flanked by Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney, left, and Mayor Dennis Walaker Wednesday at City Hall. (David Samson/The Forum)

Fargo sales tax vote for flood protection likely June 30

Email News Alerts

FARGO - A vote on a sales tax initiative designed to pay for permanent flood control measures in Fargo will likely come in a June 30 special election, city officials announced Wednesday.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The proposal, introduced by Mayor Dennis Walaker and City Commissioner Tim Mahoney, calls for a half-cent sales tax that would start Jan. 1, 2010, and run for 20 years.

It would raise about $200 million to pay for a range of flood protection measures, including home buyouts, land purchases, levees, floodwalls, river channels and diversions, officials said.

To put the sales tax into effect by Jan. 1, City Attorney Erik Johnson said a timeline calls for the City Commission to approve a sales tax resolution Monday that would set the June 30 election date.

If 60 percent of voters approve the tax, the commission must hold required readings and then send the ordinance to the state tax commissioner by Sept. 30.

It would go into effect Jan. 1, Johnson said.

"It needs to go forward very quickly," Walaker said, noting that people can have short memories even after major events.

Mahoney and Walaker said money raised by the tax would help pay the city's share of an $800 million to $1 billion project they said will be presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May.

Fargo City Engineer Mark Bittner said the cost estimates for metro flood control were gleaned from a study produced April 30, 2008, for the city by Houston Engineering, which studied flood control measures for Fargo and Moorhead starting at Fargo's 32nd Avenue South and heading north.

Bittner and Mahoney said the Houston study was supplied to the corps to help the agency in its study of metro flood control.

Bittner said the Houston study supplied options costing from $1 billion to $2 billion.

Mahoney said the city hopes the corps will accept the data to save time, instead of duplicating work.

Assistant City Engineer Dave Johnson said the city will delay starting on the Southside Flood Control Project to determine if it can be rolled into a full metro project. If it can be made part of the larger project,

Johnson said more federal aid could become available to pay for flood protection south of 32nd Avenue South.

Mahoney said on a $1 billion project, the federal

government would pay $650 million. That leaves $350 million to be picked up by the city and the state.

Mahoney said any corps plan will cost Fargo at least $200 million.

"They could have a plan for us next year," Mahoney said. If Fargo waited for the plan before starting the tax process, "you're delaying your money part of it for another one or two years."

In related news, Walaker and Mahoney said a corps contractor will start removing clay levees today.

Two crews will work on the south side of Fargo and one crew on the north side. The $3.2 million cleanup is expected to take 21 days, and will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Johnson said.

Walaker and Mahoney said 600 homeowners have not signed releases to let corps workers into backyards to remove clay and sandbag dikes. The work is done free, provided a release is signed, they said.

The releases from the corps can be signed at City Hall through 8 tonight, a news release announced Wednesday.

Homeowners can remove the material themselves, but they will not be reimbursed, Walaker said.

Homeowners can put sandbags on the curb for removal by the city at no charge.

If home or business owners take sandbags to the city landfill for disposal, they will be charged $25 per ton, Walaker said.

Half-cent sales tax for Fargo flood control

* Monday: Sales tax must be voted on and approved by the City Commission.

* May 1: Publication in The Forum. Must occur at least 60 days before the election.

* June 30: Election Day. The measure needs 60 percent approval to pass.

* July: City Commission holds first reading of sales tax ordinance.

* July/August: Commission holds second and final readings of sales tax ordinance. This must come at least one week after the first reading.

* Sept. 30: State tax commissioner is sent the final sales tax ordinance. By law it requires one full calendar quarter before the "roll out" date of the ordinance for it to take effect.

* Jan. 1, 2010: Planned effective date of the ordinance. Collections of the half-cent tax begin.

The proposal, introduced by Mayor Dennis Walaker and City Commissioner Tim Mahoney, calls for a half-cent sales tax that would start Jan. 1, 2010, and run for 20 years.

It would raise about $200 million to pay for a range of flood protection measures, including home buyouts, land purchases, levees, floodwalls, river channels and diversions, officials said.

To put the sales tax into effect by Jan. 1, City Attorney Erik Johnson said a timeline calls for the City Commission to approve a sales tax resolution Monday that would set the June 30 election date.

If 60 percent of voters approve the tax, the commission must hold required readings and then send the ordinance to the state tax commissioner by Sept. 30.

It would go into effect Jan. 1, Johnson said.

"It needs to go forward very quickly," Walaker said, noting that people can have short memories even after major events.

Mahoney and Walaker said money raised by the tax would help pay the city's share of an $800 million to $1 billion project they said will be presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May.

Fargo City Engineer Mark Bittner said the cost estimates for metro flood control were gleaned from a study produced April 30, 2008, for the city by Houston Engineering, which studied flood control measures for Fargo and Moorhead starting at Fargo's 32nd Avenue South and heading north.

Bittner and Mahoney said the Houston study was supplied to the corps to help the agency in its study of metro flood control.

Bittner said the Houston study supplied options costing from $1 billion to $2 billion.

Mahoney said the city hopes the corps will accept the data to save time, instead of duplicating work.

Assistant City Engineer Dave Johnson said the city will delay starting on the Southside Flood Control Project to determine if it can be rolled into a full metro project. If it can be made part of the larger project,

Johnson said more federal aid could become available to pay for flood protection south of 32nd Avenue South.

Mahoney said on a $1 billion project, the federal

government would pay $650 million. That leaves $350 million to be picked up by the city and the state.

Mahoney said any corps plan will cost Fargo at least $200 million.

"They could have a plan for us next year," Mahoney said. If Fargo waited for the plan before starting the tax process, "you're delaying your money part of it for another one or two years."

In related news, Walaker and Mahoney said a corps contractor will start removing clay levees today.

Two crews will work on the south side of Fargo and one crew on the north side. The $3.2 million cleanup is expected to take 21 days, and will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Johnson said.

Walaker and Mahoney said 600 homeowners have not signed releases to let corps workers into backyards to remove clay and sandbag dikes. The work is done free, provided a release is signed, they said.

The releases from the corps can be signed at City Hall through 8 tonight, a news release announced Wednesday.

Homeowners can remove the material themselves, but they will not be reimbursed, Walaker said.

Homeowners can put sandbags on the curb for removal by the city at no charge.

If home or business owners take sandbags to the city landfill for disposal, they will be charged $25 per ton, Walaker said.

Half-cent sales tax for Fargo flood control

* Monday: Sales tax must be voted on and approved by the City Commission.

* May 1: Publication in The Forum. Must occur at least 60 days before the election.

* June 30: Election Day. The measure needs 60 percent approval to pass.

* July: City Commission holds first reading of sales tax ordinance.

* July/August: Commission holds second and final readings of sales tax ordinance. This must come at least one week after the first reading.

* Sept. 30: State tax commissioner is sent the final sales tax ordinance. By law it requires one full calendar quarter before the "roll out" date of the ordinance for it to take effect.

* Jan. 1, 2010: Planned effective date of the ordinance. Collections of the half-cent tax begin.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement