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Forum staff reports, Published August 17 2009

Wahpeton residents face sales tax vote Tuesday

WAHPETON, N.D. – Residents will go to the polls Tuesday to determine whether to add a half-cent sales tax to help pay for flood-related expenses and infrastructure.

Originally, voters were to go to the polls in June to vote on the tax, but the special election was delayed to give officials time to finalize the wording.

In 1998, the city began work on a $19 million permanent flood protection plan, slated for completion by 2010.

Wahpeton’s share of the cost is $6.8 million, a figure the city can’t pay at its current sales tax rate, Darcie Huwe, the city’s finance director, said in June.

In addition, rising costs and additional flood control needs means Wahpeton needs more money for the protection it wants, Mayor Jim Sturdevand said.

If voters approve the sales tax, it will generate $436,000 annually for 20 years, or until flood costs are paid.

The tax needs a simple majority for approval.

The combined state and city rate on taxable goods and services in Wahpeton is currently 6.5 percent. Approval of the latest tax initiative would raise the rate to 7 percent.