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Published October 07 2010

Lindgren clarifies position on sales tax

Fargo residents who remember former mayor Jon Lindgren appearing in a TV commercial last year to urge voters to support a half-cent city sales tax for flood protection may have been confused when The Forum reported Wednesday that Lindgren said he had opposed the tax.

Lindgren clarified his statement Wednesday after a morning press conference to announce the formation of the No Blind Tax Committee, which is opposing Cass County’s proposed half-cent sales tax for flood control on the Nov. 2 ballot. Lindgren is one of the group’s chairmen.

Prior to the June 30, 2009, vote on the city sales tax, Lindgren appeared in a 30-second commercial with current Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and former mayor Bruce Furness in which the three of them spoke about why voters should support the tax.

Lindgren says in the ad, “Voting ‘yes’ will help prevent expanded flood insurance requirements and protect existing neighborhoods and businesses from future floods.”

But when asked by a reporter Tuesday if he had opposed the city sales tax, Lindgren said he had.

He clarified Wednesday: “When you asked me, I realized after I spoke to you that I should have said I voted against it in the end.”

Lindgren, who was Fargo’s mayor from 1978 to 1994, said he initially supported the city sales tax.

He said he changed his mind for two reasons: the uncertainty of not having an approved project to spend the tax money on, and the fact that the vote came so soon after the record spring flood of 2009, during what he called “an emotional period of time.”

“I just don’t like to see that done,” he said.

The city sales tax was approved by 90.7 percent of Fargo voters.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528