Voters to Decide on West Fargo Sales Tax Increase - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Voters to Decide on West Fargo Sales Tax Increase

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In less than two weeks, West Fargo residents will be asked if they want to raise the city's sales tax. If passed, the tax will be the same as Fargo's, going from 6.5% to 7.5%.

The new sales tax, which would bring in around $3 million a year, could only be used for city infrastructure projects.  City Administrator Jim Brownlee says they have more than $120 million worth of projects that need to be completed over the next 20 years.

Most would be major road or water projects.  The voters will head to the polls to decide on the sales tax increase during the primary election on June 10.

As the West Fargo community grows, the city is trying to keep up.

With dozens of projects from street expansions to another water tower planned in the coming 20 years and many feeling that special assessment costs are too high, the city wants to give the people a chance to vote on another way to pay for the improvements.

"We need to do something to find an alternative funding other than special assessment and utility rates," says West Fargo City Administrator Jim Brownlee. "So this is being brought forth to the public to ask them if this is the option they'd like to go with," he says.

Right now the sales tax in West Fargo is 6.5 percent. If approved, the sales tax will be 7.5 percent- the same as it is in Fargo. Brownlee explains that the taxes on every dollar are divided between the state, county and city.

"One cent goes to the city. We're asking for just the city share to go up one more percent," says Brownlee.

The city hopes that population growth will contribute to a sales tax revenue increase of one percent a year, raising the estimated $109 million to pay for the 60 projects over 20 years.

City officials say the tax increase will include all retail sales. 

"It's clothing, it's machinery, it's everything you buy has a sales tax attached to it," says Brownlee.

But some clothing retailers aren't too concerned, even with the absence of clothing tax across the border in Minnesota.

"We're lucky to have great customer base in West Fargo and our Fargo customers and including our Moorhead customers that come over here," says West Fargo Dress Barn Manager Nancy Liberda.

They even see some of the reasoning behind it.

"The more people that move into this area, the more road improvements we're going to need, other infrastructure that's going to have to be fixed," she says.

The sales tax increase will go to a commission meeting Feb.3. If it is passed, the increase will be drafted for voters to weigh in on June 10.
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