Tim Mahoney, Fargo, Published May 21 2012
Extend infrastructure tax to keep Fargo moving forwardSpring was kind to us this year. The sun is shining as runners are training, walkers are enjoying the sidewalks and paths, bikers are zipping down the dry roads, and the town is coming alive. We enjoyed a blessedly normal spring without a big flood fight.
But as we cherish this mild, crisis-free season, we have an important decision to make. If the citizens of Fargo vote on June 12 to extend the current half-cent infrastructure tax, we can continue to fund vitally important infrastructure and flood protection.
While officials throughout the region continue to hammer out a major regional flood diversion plan, the city of Fargo has been steadily investing in flood protection projects throughout the city to prevent the need for temporary dikes and sandbagging. Several neighborhoods now have new permanent dikes, flood walls, property buy-outs and drain systems, all made possible by the current infrastructure sales tax, which is set to expire. Voting to extend that existing tax would help our city continue its incremental progress toward the goal of making all of Fargo protected from a 100-year flood event.
This dedicated half-cent tax costs only $56 per year for an average family of four, yet it has invested
$110 million in Fargo neighborhoods. It is a powerful tool in our city’s balanced revenue plan that helps keep property taxes and special assessments reined in, while protecting our city.
Our past city leaders wisely sought to find balanced sources of revenue to minimize special assessment and mill levy increases, so that people would not be priced out of their homes. This fiscally prudent approach has been praised by Moody’s Investor Services, which granted Fargo an Aa1 rating and noted, “Conservative budgeting and a growing economy have contributed to sound financial operations, with the city posting four years of solid operating surpluses.”
Fargo is a vibrant community with a history of taking a wise, proactive approach to its future challenges. This is a wonderful place in which to live and work, and we need to help finish up our infrastructure needs and flood protection. If you value the safety, services and quality of life in Fargo, I urge you to support the extension of this infrastructure sales tax.
Mahoney is a Fargo city commissioner.