A year after voters rejected one sales tax proposal they overwhelmingly approved a second one by a margin of almost 3 to 1. Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland and City Council President Dana Sande joined MacTalk to discuss their thoughts on the dramatic turnaround.
Longtime Grand Forks politician and now a columnist for the Grand Forks Herald Eliot Glassheim joins us to talk (1) Federal Assistance after disasters and the requirements that need to go with that aid, (2) what “regular order” means in Congress, (3) the challenge that Senator Heidi Heitkamp ahead of her as she seek reelection to the US Senate and (4) his frustration at the Grand Forks City Council’s decision to have only one polling station for the November 2017 Sales Tax vote.
It’s budget season for municipalities and the City of Grand Forks published their FY 2018 Budget this past week. Dana Sande joined us to discuss the good and the bad of what is a challenging budget due to contracting revenues and infrastructure bills that are piling up. The President of the Grand Forks City Council discusses the decision not to fully fund the City’s Personnel budget and the ongoing discussion with citizens about the upcoming Sales Tax vote.
Sande is candid about the limited options that the Council has if the proposed Sales Tax initiative fails, with water rates and property taxes being the logical tools to service the infrastructure debt that the City will need to service in the upcoming years. A “Road Utility Tax” another option.
My former Grand Forks City Council colleague Terry Bjerke joined the program to talk the prospects of a new sales tax discussion in Grand Forks. Terry is no stranger to the the details of this discussion and walks us through what he believes to be the basics of the any substantive discussion on additional revenue for the City:
ASSUMPTION: Declining City Sales Tax Revenue & declining State Infrastructure Funding will both return to “historically normal” levels within five years
REVIEW & DEFINE RESERVES HELD IN THE FOLLOWING ACCOUNTS: Loan & Stabilization, Economic Development, JDA, Cash Carryover
DEFINE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS TO BE FUNDED: a finite prioritized list of those projects to be funded by additional taxes levied on the citizens of Grand Forks
With these fiscal pieces in place, Terry believes an empirically based debate can be held on the size and length of additional taxes that the City may need to levy on the citizens of Grand Forks.
Dana Sande, President of the Grand Forks City Council, is concerned about the situation the City of Grand Forks finds itself in financially as a result of a decrease in State funding of infrastructure combined with a declining City Sales Tax. The Bottom Line – there are dark clouds on the horizon for every local government in the state.
In a pointed interview as the vote on Arbor Park gets under way, Sande expressed frustration over what he believes are falsehoods about the “standard Renaissance Zone incentives” that apply to the Ritterman project that could be built in Arbor Park if approved and emphasized the importance of this vote for much needed tax revenue and as a message to developers that Grand Forks is business friendly.
North Dakota State Senator Curt Kreun, (R) Grand Forks, joins the program to discuss the recovery of Grand Forks & East Grand Forks 20 years after the Flood of 1997 and the recently concluded Legislative session.
Kreun discusses (1) the net effect of the reduction of State Income Tax rates on revenue, (2) ND University System funding and fiscal oversight, (3) State Infrastructure Funding and (4) ending the Biennium style of State governance.
The City Administrator of the City of Grand Forks joined us on Monday to discuss all things Grand Forks. The topics included: (1) Speed Limits, (2) rumors of an Air Force inspired round of BRAC, (3) City infrastructure, (4) the City’s role in fighting addiction and then most interesting… (5) the future.
Al Grasser, the Engineer for the City of Grand Forks joined MacTalk today for a discussion on Infrastructure Priorities, here are some of the highlights:
Transition Infrastructure Priorities: If Grand Forks City Engineer had to prioritize transportation projects the I-29 Interchange at 47th Avenue South would be at the top of the list, followed by the underpass at 42nd Street.
The interchange at 47th Avenue South: Grasser explained the linkage to 32nd Avenue South, without the interchange, 32nd has to be made substantially wider to accommodate traffic that would otherwise be diverted by such an interchange.
The underpass at 42nd Avenue South: Grasser cited the population growth via apartments on 42nd between Demers Avenue and Gateway Drive and longer trains that are up to one quarter of a mile longer than trains of the past, which take more time to clear the intersection.
How will City Street repairs be funded: A 50/50 Split of City Funds and Special Assessments would fund the repair of local streets which he knows won’t be popular.
An interesting interview that has big implications for the City’s upcoming sales tax vote.
When asked to assign the City Infrastructure a grade Ward 7 Council Member Ken Vein gave it a “C” grade relative to the condition of its infrastructure.
Ward 7 Council Member Ken Vein join MacTalk today to discuss infrastructure needs in Grand Forks from streets, the underpasses to off ramps, stating bluntly that the City needs to focus on infrastructure.
When asked if he had a prioritized list of infrastructure projects Vein responded “streets,” along with infrastructure related to “growth” coming second. “It’s probably cheaper for us put in a 47th to relieve the congestion on 32nd and leave it as the existing four lanes than it is. It’s probably a better alternative do 47th and plan for the additional growth on the south end.” Additionally, he discussed replacing University Avenue which has been repeatedly milled and overlayed.
If no additional sales tax is levied, the funds to do infrastructure will come from utility bills via the City Council hiking rates and special assessment for roads or you simply don’t do them.