Sales tax proposal: JSDC offers alternative planIn a special meeting Monday, the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board rejected a proposal to use 30 percent of the 1 percent sales tax toward reduction of city special assessments. Instead, it supported a 25 percent proposal for storm and sanitary sewer improvements.
In a special meeting Monday, the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board rejected a proposal to use 30 percent of the 1 percent sales tax toward reduction of city special assessments. Instead, it supported a 25 percent proposal for storm and sanitary sewer improvements.
A subcommittee, made up of City Council and JSDC members, came up with a proposal to use 30 percent of the city sales tax funding to lower citywide special assessments. The proposal also included JSDC retaining a $280,000 payment toward the city’s wastewater treatment plant loan. Together the amount totaled a 44 percent contribution toward the city’s infrastructure costs.
It failed in a 7-3 vote by board members Monday.
The revised proposal by the JSDC Executive Committee allows 25 percent or $500,000 to be used for improvements on the city’s sanitary and storm sewer systems. The change, said JSDC Board President Jim Boyd, is the emphasis on using the funding for the sewer systems.
“The petition framed this as an emergency for the sewer system due to flooding,” he said.
Another 25 percent would target city infrastructure directly related to economic development. At this time that percentage would include the $280,000 or 14 percent for the wastewater treatment plant and only 11 percent would be available for projects. However, the loan will be paid off in 2016 and then the full 25 percent would be available.
“We want to continue to fund infrastructure as it relates to economic development,” Boyd said. “At the same time we’re sensitive to the city’s sewer and storm water issues. We all live here too. But twice now the voters have strongly supported economic development.”
Boyd and other JSDC members said the alternative proposal speaks to economic development responsibilities and the city’s infrastructure concerns. The 25 percent earmarked for infrastructure projects directly related to economic development would go before the City Council as projects do now. But Boyd said the JSDC wants to partner with the city on developing those projects.
“This gives the city the option to look at its strategic plan projects for funding,” said JSDC Board member Alex Schweitzer.
Boyd said the JSDC would have only half of the 1 percent sales tax or $1 million for its economic development mission. He said 30 percent of the funding annually goes to a fixed operating budget and another 20 percent goes to the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation. That leaves $500,000 plus the county mill levy and loan repayments for funding projects. If the proposal passes, Boyd said, there would need to be budget cuts in the JSDC.
“Is there any end date to this?” said Joan Morris, JSDC Board member. “I’m looking at the energy park in Spiritwood, plus the help JSDC gives to local companies. There’s not a lot of money left to use for attracting a large business.”
Noel Johnson, Stutsman County chief operating officer, asked about the $6 million the JSDC has in its reserves.
“We have a hole in the energy park and a hole in the (ag) food park,” Schweitzer said. “We’re setting aside reserves for that.”
Boyd said the money originally was to go to a corn-based ethanol project in the Spiritwood Energy Park which didn’t happen. Great River Energy needs another steam host and JSDC has 100 acres for economic development there to develop. Morris said the community could be the first in the country to have a non-corn-based ethanol plant at Spiritwood if Inbicon and Otoka build a cellulosic ethanol plant in the energy park.
“To the casual observer, $6 million might look like a lot, but from our standpoint that could go for one or two projects,” said Curt Sayler, JSDC Board member.
City Council members Pat Nygaard and Kelani Parisien were guests at the meeting. The two are members of the subcommittee. Parisien said she favors what the subcommittee came up with and using the 30 percent to lower citywide special assessments.
“We’re trying to get the property tax and special assessments under control,” she said. “Are we shooting ourselves in the foot? My fear is we will impede recruiting and getting people to move into our community.”
Given the unanimous vote to accept the alternative plan, the JSDC proposal will now go to the City Council.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at email@example.com