Discussions about the need for more space at the Ward County Courthouse and Ward County Jail aren't new; they've been taking place for too many years already. But that doesn't change the fact that the space crunch is real, and that something needs to be done to alleviate that problem as soon as possible.
Voters will decide on the latest attempt to solve the space problem on Nov. 6. The county is asking to create a half-cent sales tax to pay for the roughly $39 million project, which includes a new office building, renovations to the courthouse, an expansion of the jail and bridge and road repairs in the county.
It's a massive project, with a huge price tag, that has divided county residents. The issue has been drawn out far too long, the problems have worsened and the price tag has risen. As the population of Minot and Ward County grows, the problems have grown, too. The jail is routinely overcrowded, especially on weekends. At the courthouse, offices seeing increased work loads have run out of space for employees and simple storage space, and the county spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to rent office space. County roads and bridges damaged by years of flooding remain unrepaired and in many cases unusable.
It's time to seriously address the worsening problems.
The proposed half-cent sales tax would sunset in 10 years, or earlier if the projects were paid off before then. We realize the timing of this project isn't perfect, with many county residents still recovering from the 2011 Souris River flood. But with a growing population, and with Minot attracting more and more visitors for shopping and other activities, the sales tax is the best way to spread the burden. The problems facing the county are real. They aren't going to get better and potential solutions aren't going to get cheaper if residents continue to ignore the issue.
The Minot Daily News supports a 'yes' vote on the Ward County sales tax proposal.