Second sales tax penny should be examined
The recent controversy surrounding the City of Minot’s community facility fund has placed the allocation of the city’s second penny of sales tax firmly in the public eye. Among other reasons, many – including members of the city council – wonder if the intent of the public when the fund was approved really included financing such things as a recycling transfer facility and other city and state institutions and projects.
While the use of the fund for city projects not included in the overall budget makes sound financial sense, it is not in staying with the intent of the fund.
With financial challenges stretching ahead of the city, with the fund controversy already agitating taxpayers and with other needs still not met, it’s time for the city to have a wide-open discussion about the second penny of sales tax and how funds should be allocated in the future.
Voters – including many now unhappy with the facilities fund process – approved it, so the public must be a part of this discussion. Fortunately, it appears several members – if not all members – of the city council seem to have come to this sober realization.
“My own inclination is that we complete this round of grants, then we would need to look at what happens in the future,” said council member Mark Jantzer, Tuesday, suggesting the council possibly discontinue future grant rounds.
Mayor Chuck Barney recommended current facilities fund dollars be spend on community facilities and future collections that would normally go to the fund be redirected to the Northwest Area Water Supply project.
Council member Josh Wolsky objected to singling out community facilities and not infrastructure projects and property tax relief included in the second penny of tax. NAWS will be needing more money, and voters had directed the 1 percent tax – originally imposed for NAWS – go back to that project if funds in reserve ever fall short.
Clearly there are diverse and divergent ideas about what can and should be done with the revenue from the second sales tax penny.
This is a discussion that needs to be had, needs to be public and needs to embrace a realistic view of city finances today and in the future.