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Fargo commissioners approve half-cent sales tax ballot measure for flood protection

FARGO - The Fargo City Commission today approved a resolution and ballot measure that, if approved in a special election, would add a half-cent to the city's sales tax to help pay for flood protection measures.

The vote was 5-0.

The measure, if approved in what is expected to be a June 30 vote, would take Fargo's sales tax to 7 percent.

The tax is expected to generate about $10 million a year over 20 years, or roughly $200 million to help pay for a range of flood control measures.

The resolution says the goal of any projects approved should be for 500-year flood protection for the city.

Commissioner Brad Wimmer said the sentiment he's heard around the city is "we need to get something done. We don't want to go through this again."

City Commissioner Mike Williams argued successfully to have water retention added to the list of items that the tax proceeds could be used to pay for.

However, he dropped a request to have water delivery projects added to the resolution after Mayor Dennis Walaker balked at that idea.

"To me, this resolution should be strictly for flood protection," Walaker said.

If the tax is approved, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2010.

Cass County Administrator Bonnie Johnson said that county commissioners want to meet with the City Commission about the vote.

However, Johnson said the city will be alone in this election. She said the county can't call a special election for a sales tax, so no vote can be taken until 2010.