Supporters of a county-wide half-cent sales tax have their work cut out for them.
The Citizen's Committee tasked with presenting the proposal to the public held a press conference this past week to highlight details of the project.
Actually, it's three projects rolled into one massive proposal that includes $18.8 million for a new office building and renovations to the Ward County Courthouse, $10.5 million for expansion of the ?Ward County Jail and $10 million for bridge and road repairs.
The half-cent sales tax, if approved, would sunset in 10 years, or earlier if the projects were paid off sooner. Voters soundly rejected a similar building proposal six years ago.
We've written repeatedly about the county's real need for more office space and expansion of the jail. The problems are real, and we encourage the public to take advantage of tours offered every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. until Election Day to see for themselves the situation many county employees find themselves in on a daily basis. We're confident open-minded residents would agree that more space is a necessity.
But the project's supporters are facing an uphill battle regarding the size and timing of the project. It's a tough time to be asking Minot and Ward County residents to pay more sales tax, considering the rising cost of living and the ongoing flood recovery issues in the area. Plus, the county is only one of several local entities needing money for projects.
We've also heard complaints about the scope of the county project. Commissioners decided to lump all their requests into one ballot question, rather than parcel out the projects separately. The nearly $40 million price tag surely alarms some residents, whereas asking for $18.8 million for a new building and courthouse renovations might be more palatable to some voters.
The space needs are real. The question is whether supporters can convince enough voters of that in the next month.