EDC funding advances
The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. will likely receive $400,000 from Cass County taxpayers next year. The County Commission gave preliminary approval Friday for the economic development corporation's request, which helps pay fo...
The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. will likely receive $400,000 from Cass County taxpayers next year.
The County Commission gave preliminary approval Friday for the economic development corporation's request, which helps pay for operations.
Commissioners debated whether the annual funding should still come from property taxes if voters approve a half-cent sales tax for economic development.
Commissioner Darrell Vanyo said sales tax opponents will likely point out the money will go to an organization already funded by property taxes.
"A voter that has to pay twice for something is going to be turned off," he said. "Just an opinion."
Commissioner Ken Pawluk said making the county's regular allocation part of the proposal would show voters they'd save on property taxes. It would also illustrate a concrete way the 12-year sales tax would be spent, he said.
"That may help your proposal carry," Pawluk told Brian Walters, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp.
EDC officials, who warn the region's economy cannot be sustained without change, spent 18 months creating a plan to lure high-tech companies and high-wage jobs to the area.
They're proposing to pay for it in part through a Cass County-wide sales tax, which would raise about $9.5 million a year. The 12-year tax proposal is intended solely for the initiative.
Walters said a committee already concluded that keeping the corporation's operations separate from the sales tax funding would be beneficial.
"I think my sense would be that we disarm more opposition by saying it does not support our operational budget," Walters said.
In addition, coming before county commissioners each year to request money provides accountability, he said.
Commissioner Scott Wagner said the growth plan is a "bold step, something we haven't seen before."
"I think the initiative ought to stand on its own merits," he said.
Cass commissioners voted unanimously Monday to send the sales tax to voters either in a November special election or in June primaries. The date depends on whether the county's home rule charter allows a special election.
A committee will draft language for the ballot, which must be approved by the full commission.
Also on Friday:
- The Cass social services board gave preliminary approval for four of eight positions the county Social Services Department requested. The board is comprised largely of county commissioners.
Vanyo said further cuts to the department's proposed $10.5 million expenses are likely.
- Cass County Veterans Service Officer Jim Brent pitched an additional employee and more office space as part of his 2008 budget request.
Commissioners will decide later whether to approve those requests.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556