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Published October 26, 2010, 12:00 AM

Flood protection: Last of four sales tax meetings most well-attended

Cass residents express diversion frustrations
Cass County resident Charlene Nelson walked away from the last of four public information meetings feeling not much more informed than when she came.

By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM

Cass County resident Charlene Nelson walked away from the last of four public information meetings feeling not much more informed than when she came.

The final installment of meetings in the past three weeks was held Monday night at St. Leo’s Parish in Casselton. The meetings have been held to inform the public and answer questions regarding a proposed countywide half-cent sales tax.

The half-cent sales tax would help generate $220 million over 20 years to be used for the North Dakota flood diversion and other flooding prevention projects in the county.

Monday night’s meeting was the most attended, with close to 30 people there to listen to the hour-long presentations by county officials. Less than a half-hour was used as a question-and-answer period.

Nelson said she agreed a flood diversion was needed.

But she said she felt like she was being rushed into the decision with the meeting just six days before the half-cent sales tax is put before voters on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“We should have been doing this months and months ago, when we could have debated it openly,” Nelson said. “Do I think this was helpful? Not really.”

Although he has attended other meetings, Sheriff Paul Laney spoke for the first time, addressing the question of why Fargo should not be left to pay for the diversion alone. He said flood protection is not a Fargo-only problem.

Laney said in the 2009 flood, 166 people had to be rescued from rising waters.

“Not one was within the city limits of Fargo,” Laney said.

He added that the city of Fargo and Fargo Police are partners in law enforcement in the county and the city of Fargo has helped pay for projects that benefit rural residents such as the dispatch center where rural 911 calls are received as well as metro calls for help.

“Fargo pays 51 percent. Cass County paid 10 percent,” Laney said.

Cass County Commissioner Ken Pawluk, who also supports the half-cent sales tax, said the diversion is needed to benefit the whole county.

Pawluk said a half-cent tax adds one full cent of tax paid on a $2 purchase, or 10 cents to a $20 purchase. He said the cost was small in relation to the costs another major flood will bring to the county.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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