City's new sales tax in place ahead of summer construction season
Maybe you've seen it at the cashier's counter: Most everything in Grand Forks costs just a sliver more.
The city's sales tax hike, approved by voters in November, went into effect April 1, increasing the local sales tax rate from 1.75 to 2.25 percent. With an extra 5 percent sales tax for the state tacked on, the total at the till is an extra 7.25 percent.
City leaders promised the tax would mean more money for local infrastructure — water and roads — and City Administrator Todd Feland insists that this summer they'll live up to their promise. He pointed to city documents that show early 2018 budgetary figures for street maintenance are increases from $850,000 to $1.8 million and "minor street repair" going from $150,000 to $379,000. As a result, Feland said, city leaders are boosting the total amount of roadwork in the community.
"A lot of what people have been saying is that it's been a long spring and they're just waiting for construction to move forward," Feland said. He stressed that city leaders are, too.
City Engineer Al Grasser said one of the most notable projects that will draw a portion of its funding from the new sales tax is the repaving of Washington Street from Hammerling Avenue to Eighth Avenue North. That project, which will see the city contribute $120,000 toward a $1.2 million resurfacing, will smooth out one of the bumpiest portions of the much-used traffic artery.
The tax is estimated to collect about $5 million annually, and will collect about $3.75 million this year owing to its late start. The project is expected to split its revenues two general directions: $3 million per year toward road work and $2 million per year to water projects, notably the new water treatment plant under construction on the city's west side.