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Published October 28 2012

Forum editorial: Pleasant secession unpleasant

As bad ideas go, the measure on the Cass County (N.D.) ballot to transfer Pleasant Township from Cass to Richland County is a prize-winner. It could be a clever joke, except the people proposing the stunt aren’t laughing. They are serious. Really, they are.

A gaggle of property owners in the township are peeved because they believe effects of the proposed Red River diversion would be detrimental to them. Their objections range from they don’t want to pay a dime for the project to the project is lowering property values to county officials won’t listen to them to they might get flooded by the project’s features.

Even if all their objections were valid (they are not), shifting the township into Richland County would do little or nothing to address their concerns. It would, however, increase their taxes because Richland has a higher tax levy than Cass. It would compel Richland County to pay a portion of bond liability for work on the Cass County Courthouse. It would obligate Richland officials to extend services – road repair, snow removal, law enforcement, flood control – to a township 45 miles away from the county’s major city.

There’s more. Because the township encompasses parts of the cities of Horace and Fargo, an arrangement would have to be made for elections in the overlapping jurisdictions. Who would pay for that? Do Richland officials want to pay voting costs for precincts in two Cass cities? Would sheriff’s services in that small part of Horace in Richland County transfer to Richland County? The Cass County sheriff polices Horace now.

And this: Cass has an investment of something like $15 million in the township for everything from flood buyouts to roads and bridges. Cass would be justified in seeking reimbursement from Richland if the de-annexation is successful.

But at the heart of the township residents’ pique is the diversion. If they believe secession from Cass and annexation to Richland will have any significant effect on the progress of the diversion project, they are deluding themselves. The project will proceed. Impacts (if any) on the township will be the same whether it is in Cass County or Richland County.

When voters go to the polls Nov. 6, they will face several contests and questions with no easy or simple answers. But the Pleasant Township secession measure is not complicated at all. It’s a bad idea on so many levels – including for people in the township – that “no” is obvious.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.