Fargo sales tax vote shows good early turnoutEarly voting numbers are good for Fargo’s sales tax special election. Now it’s a guessing game as to whether those for or against adding one-half-percent to the city’s tax will turn Tuesday’s ballot into the best-attended special election ever, or a coffee and pinochle yawner for poll judges.
By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM
Early voting numbers are good for Fargo’s sales tax special election.
Now it’s a guessing game as to whether those for or against adding one-half-percent to the city’s tax will turn Tuesday’s ballot into the best-attended special election ever, or a coffee and pinochle yawner for poll judges.
About 1,630 people cast their ballots in early voting last week, Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said Friday.
Another 400 absentee ballots were returned to the county courthouse by Friday, he said.
Fargoans will decide if they want to bump the city’s current 6.5 percent sales tax up to 7 percent to pay for projects to protect against floods by the Red River and its tributaries.
About $200 million would be raised by the tax over 20 years. It will go into effect Jan. 1, if approved.
“We fought the good fight. And now we need to put our foot forward and show the state and federal people that we’re serious and we want to put this behind us,” City Commissioner Brad Wimmer said.
The sales tax will also keep property taxes or special assessments lower if the final project’s costs are high, Wimmer said.
Two projects have been examined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They are a $909 million diversion of the Red River around the metro through Minnesota, and $625 million in levees, floodwalls and other measures through Fargo and Moorhead that includes Fargo’s $161 million Southside Flood Control Project.
So far, the tax has broad support through the Coalition for Protecting Fargo’s Future, a group that includes politicians, and several business groups including Realtors and home builders.
The Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead’s board of directors discussed the measure on Friday. While not endorsing the tax hike, the group agreed that each city and county involved must do its share to protect the metro.
“One way or another, they’re all going to have to find a way to pay for a local match,” Chamber President David Martin said.
State Tax Department figures show that if residents approve the tax hike, Fargo would join 31 other cities with a total sales tax of 7 percent.
The measure requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass.
Fargo residents still wishing to cast an absentee ballot can obtain one at the courthouse until 5 p.m. Monday, Montplaisir said.
Tuesday’s vote is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 16 sites. You can find your voting place and answers to other voting questions online at
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583