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Published June 13 2012

Cass, Fargo officials say razor-thin sales tax vote won't trigger auto recount

FARGO – County and city election officials said this morning that the narrow margin of victory Tuesday for Fargo’s half-cent sales tax measure won’t trigger an automatic recount.

For local measures, state law requires an automatic recount only if the margin is less than 0.25 percent.

Fargo’s half-cent sales tax passed Tuesday with 63 votes tipping the results over the 60 percent citywide vote required for passage.

Fargo Auditor Steve Sprague said today a recount on that result would only be required if the measure passed or failed within 55 votes.

Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir agreed with Sprague’s assessment and added that Tuesday’s results have not yet been certified as official.

“We, of course, will have to wait until canvassing where we may count some additional absentee ballots to determine the official results,” Montplaisir said in an email to The Forum.

In complete but unofficial results Tuesday, 60.3 percent of Fargo voters approved of city Measure 1, while 39.7 percent voted it down.

Nearly 21,900 Fargo residents weighed in on the sales tax measure during Tuesday’s election.

Of those, 13,176 Fargo voters voted “yes” and 8,679 voters voted “no.” Based on the turnout, the measure needed 13,113 “yes” votes to pass.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and other city leaders urged passage of the sales tax measure, which is an extension of an existing half-cent tax that expires this month.

Revenue from the extended tax will be used to fund various infrastructure projects, including streets and water improvements and internal flood protection.

As approved by voters, the half-cent sales tax, which expires this month, will return Jan. 1 and last through 2032.

It should generate at least $11 million a year. But with the city’s growth, that tax revenue could climb to $22 million a year by 2031, resulting in a total income of $312 million over the life of the 20-year tax.