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Brad Wimmer and Dennis Walaker, Published June 09 2012

Extension of sales tax will keep city on flood protection schedule

We are soliciting your help to vote “yes” and pass City Measure 1 to keep Fargo funded for flood protection and infrastructure needs. This would be an extension of an existing sales tax and not a new tax to the city. Our needs are extensive, especially as we continue to bring our city to the 42.5-foot flood protection goal, trying to save millions of dollars in flood insurance and ensure our local funding of the upcoming diversion project.

All of our commissioners believe we have spent dollars wisely to help in the goal of making Fargo sand-bag free, but we are not there yet. Engineering, led by Mark Bittner and April Walker, has identified

$247 million of internal flood projects to get us to our goal. We don’t think it would be wise to stop the progress we have made in the past several years and put these projects on hold. If you believe we need the diversion, that we are improving the inner-city flood protection and keeping up with roads, we need to continue this funding source.

With your sales tax to date, we have provided storm sewer and detention projects, acquired approximately 250 properties in flood areas, built lift stations, constructed 13 miles of levee and floodwall, and replaced 85 miles of old underground cast-iron pipe. In the next 20 years, there is more than $350 million projected on internal infrastructure improvements needed for the city. We believe a good job has been done to date in keeping up each year in this process. Look at Main Avenue, First Avenue North, 52nd Avenue South, 25th Street South and 45th Street South as a few of the positive projects completed that are visible to Fargo and its users.

We are very aware of the competitive nature of sales tax in being a Minnesota border city. Our goal is to have Fargo continue to be a driver of business and commerce. At 7.5 percent sales tax, we have continued to be a strong, thriving community. We see no plans to raise this tax beyond the current level. The diversion was the No. 1 item on the list for the Fargo comprehensive plan Go 2030. We know we have to put dollars away as the diversion is coming closer to fruition for Fargo and the region. This sales tax extension will help us do that.

Working hard and making good solid decisions for Fargo and the region has and will be our goal as we move forward. We hope you see the need as we do to ensure our internal flood protection and infrastructure needs. We will strive to make good, solid decisions on spending these tax dollars as we have in the past. If keeping Fargo sand-bag free is important to you, the diversion is important to you, keeping your roads up to date is important to you, all the while maintaining Fargo as a strong, thriving community, vote “yes” with us on city Measure 1 to extend the half-cent sales tax.

Wimmer is a Fargo city commissioner. Walaker is Fargo’s mayor.