ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Forum Editorial: Half-cent sales tax increases in Moorhead and West Fargo pay for needed improvements

West Fargo voters should approve a half-cent sales tax increase for public safety needs, including a new fire headquarters, and Moorhead voters should accept a proposed half-cent sales tax for a new library and community center. Both are needed.

Editorial FSA
We are part of The Trust Project.

Voters in West Fargo and Moorhead will decide whether to approve proposed half-cent sales tax increases. Moorhead voters will decide the fate of a tax increase to pay for a new library and community center, while West Fargo voters are being asked to pay for enhanced public safety.

Both measures are needed and should be approved to maintain and upgrade crucial city services.

West Fargo confronts growing public safety needs, both in police and fire protection, as the city keeps growing.

The city sales tax in West Fargo would increase from 2% to 2.5% to pay for police and fire equipment, staffing and capital improvement projects.

Notably, the city of West Fargo recently broke ground on a new $18.5 million fire headquarters, which will be paid for by the sale of bonds and the city’s infrastructure fund, paid for by an existing sales tax.

ADVERTISEMENT

City officials have determined that the police budget should increase by $2.9 million, for a total of $12.6 million by 2026, to pay for personnel and equipment needs. Similarly, fire protection services should increase by $3.45 million by 2026.

West Fargo’s public safety departments — which make up 80% of the budget — are paid primarily by the city’s general fund, financed by city property taxes.

If the half-cent public safety sales tax is approved, West Fargo will have the metro area’s highest local sales tax, 8%. That compares to Fargo’s 7.5% local sales tax.

Moorhead’s local sales tax, now 7.375%, would increase to 7.875% if voters approve the proposed half-cent increase for a new library and community center.

The Vote YES56560 task force has proposed a visionary $31.59 million library and community center that would be a keystone in the redevelopment of the area now occupied by the moribund Moorhead Center Mall .

Plans feature an indoor playground area, walking track, coffee bar and what proponents are calling a “makerspace.”

The building in downtown Moorhead would be 45,000 to 55,000 square feet and would house a podcast studio, 3-D printer and gathering space for entrepreneurs.

The Moorhead half-cent sales tax would raise $1.6 million a year for 22 years. It’s estimated that nonresidents would pay 30% of the tax, or $470,000 per year. The project also would receive $1 million in federal funds.

ADVERTISEMENT

For a state-of-the art library and community center, Moorhead residents would pay on average about $2 per month or $25 a year, a bargain for a pair of facilities that will greatly enhance the community’s cultural and civic offerings.

Again, both of these half-cent sales taxes are for badly needed improvements. Voters in West Fargo and Moorhead should invest in their futures and say yes to these proposals.

What to read next
Downtown Fargo has to offer more than bricks, asphalt and concrete. The city should be creative and strategic about providing green spaces downtown.
By refusing to grant a permit allowing Romantix to move, the city of Fargo likely is making it more difficult to redevelop the blighted 400 block of NP Avenue, a major downtown eyesore.