By Michael Brown
I am proud to call Grand Forks home. Our city is a great place to visit, live, work and raise a family.
Yet, I know we can do better.
There is no question that we need a new water treatment plant and need to do a better job repairing our city streets and roads. The only real question is how do we pay for these infrastructure improvements?
With state and federal funding drying up, we need to look for new, innovative ways to maintain our basic infrastructure and minimize the cost to our citizens. That is why I proposed a half-percent sales tax dedicated to pay for street improvements, pothole repair and our new water treatment plant. The tax will sunset in 20 years.
Using a city sales tax to pay for street improvements means that about 50 percent of the tax revenue will be paid by people who live outside our city limits, but who still use our streets and roads. It is simply a matter of fairness that we ask these non-residents to help pay for infrastructure they rely on.
Using a city sales tax means we can accelerate our street repair and maintenance plans. Without this pothole tax, our city faces a $16 million shortfall in our street maintenance budget over the next six years.
Using a city sales tax will take pressure off local special assessments and property taxes. Otherwise, the full burden for the cost of street repair and maintenance will fall on our property owners.
Using a city sales tax to help pay for the water treatment plant also takes pressure off local water bills. In fact, if this measure passes, the average residential water user will save $100 per year on their water bills.
And using a city sales tax keeps our utility rates competitive with other cities and helps retain and attract business, industry and more good jobs.
Voting yes on the city sales tax just makes good sense. It is fair, efficient and the smart way to pay for basic city infrastructure. I hope you agree and will join me in voting yes on Nov. 7.
Michael Brown is mayor of Grand Forks.