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Grand Forks September sales tax collections near record-high

While state leaders announced another drop in taxable sales and purchases this week, Grand Forks sales tax collections almost reached a record high. The $2,067,469 in city sales tax collections was the sixth-highest figure since the inception of ...

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While state leaders announced another drop in taxable sales and purchases this week, Grand Forks sales tax collections almost reached a record high.

The $2,067,469 in city sales tax collections was the sixth-highest figure since the inception of the tax in 1985. The collections would primarily reflect July sales, according to a memo from Maureen Storstad, director of finance and administrative services for the city of Grand Forks.

Overall collections have been down this year, however. The roughly $15 million collected thus far is 5.67 percent lower than what accumulated in the first nine months of 2015.

The rolling 12-month total was down 4.5 percent in September, according to Storstad's memo.

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One clue into the hampered sales tax figures may be declining Canadian traffic on a weak Canadian dollar. The number of personal vehicles that crossed at Pembina, N.D., declined 12.7 percent in the first seven months of 2016 compared with the same time period last year, according to federal data.

Meanwhile, taxable sales and purchases in North Dakota were down almost 26 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.

Barry Wilfahrt, president and CEO of the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, acknowledged Grand Forks is facing some headwinds with the Canadian dollar and low commodity prices. But he said efforts to diversify the economy seem to have paid off.

"We seem to be bucking those headwinds pretty well as a local economy," Wilfahrt said.

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