Vote ‘yes’ for Cass flood taxOn Tuesday, you will have the opportunity to ensure flood protection for Cass County by voting “yes” on the half-cent sales tax.
By: Darrell Vanyo, INFORUM
On Tuesday, you will have the opportunity to ensure flood protection for Cass County by voting “yes” on the half-cent sales tax. The Metro Flood Study Work Group unanimously approved the North Dakota 35K diversion as the locally preferred plan. Since that time, the Army Corps of Engineers has focused on this plan as the project. The year-long delay for the completion of the study was necessary in order to analyze downstream impacts and make recommendations for mitigating any water level increases. The North Dakota 35K project remains the focus of the corps, and we must work toward providing local funds for the project.
The Fargo half-cent sales tax approved in 2009 was passed before the diversion project was the preferred project for the metro area. The diversion will provide more extensive protection and for larger flood events than the Southside Flood Protection project. As such, it will cost more locally.
The only feasible means of funding a project of this magnitude locally is through a Cass County sales tax, a Fargo sales tax or by special assessments. With sales tax funds, the county has committed, first and foremost, to matching Fargo dollar for dollar in constructing the diversion. Because a countywide sales tax will raise from $1 million to $2 million more per year and because this money can go to other flood prevention projects in the county for individuals, neighborhoods or incorporated cities, I urge you to consider what projects will not be funded if the tax is voted down. The county simply does not have funds available for significant flood protection projects without it.
Many will benefit beyond those within the diversion channel. Because of upstream retention and/or the implementation of downstream mitigation alternatives, communities downstream will benefit year in and year out from the flood protection efforts of Fargo and Cass County and with no local dollar contribution. For this reason, a sales tax is an appropriate way to fund such a project. The benefits go well beyond Fargo, West Fargo and Cass County. Therefore, the funding should be as all-inclusive as possible.
Another reason for the sales tax is that with funds being collected annually, it may be possible to fund construction without bonding in advance for the money. This would not be the case for a special assessment district, for which funds cannot be collected until a project is completed.
The estimated sales tax impact of a half-cent sales tax for a Cass County resident with a household income of $50,000 is $45 annually. For a household income of $150,000, the impact is $135 annually. How much do you currently pay for flood insurance? How much are you willing to pay for protecting your home, your employer or an economic engine that provides growth opportunities for surrounding communities and individuals?
The time for permanent flood protection is long overdue. The time for flood protection is now. Vote “yes” on Tuesday.
Vanyo is chairman of the Cass County Commission.