New sales tax split plan to go before cityUncomfortable with the polarizing effects on the community of taking half of the 1 percent sales tax and extending the sales tax without a vote, City Council and Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board members have devised a new proposal. JSDC Board President Jim Boyd said Councilman Pat Nygaard sat down with him and JSDC Board member Alex Schweitzer to discuss the situation. The idea, Boyd said, was to get to an agreement both parties could live with. “We all agreed this isn’t good for the community,” Boyd said. “We want to be partners in this.”
Uncomfortable with the polarizing effects on the community of taking half of the 1 percent sales tax and extending the sales tax without a vote, City Council and Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board members have devised a new proposal.
JSDC Board President Jim Boyd said Councilman Pat Nygaard sat down with him and JSDC Board member Alex Schweitzer to discuss the situation. The idea, Boyd said, was to get to an agreement both parties could live with.
“We all agreed this isn’t good for the community,” Boyd said. “We want to be partners in this.”
The discussion resulted in a proposal to split the 1 percent sales tax revenue with 45 percent for the city and 55 percent for the JSDC. It also doesn’t extend the sales tax past its sunset date of 2012.
“Pat (Nygaard) was instrumental on this proposal,” Boyd said. Nygaard is out of town this week and couldn’t be reached for comment.
The proposal passed the JSDC Board Monday with only one “no” vote. Dick Geigle, who will finish his nine years on the JSDC Board in December, said he voted “no” because the 1 percent sales tax is money dedicated to economic development.
“Either we should vote on it or leave it as it is,” he said. “That’s my personal opinion.”
Geigle noted that he is not a spokesman for the JSDC Board. He said he was speaking as an individual, a local businessman and a volunteer on the board.
“I have one vote,” he said. “I’ll go along with the majority; that’s what our system is. If the City Council accepts it, that will be it, our board has spoken.”
For Boyd, who does speak for the JSDC Board, this new proposal and the assurance the city will pick up the tab on economic development infrastructure, “is a little easier for me to swallow.”
“The majority of the directors want to get this resolved,” he said. “We’re hoping for a favorable reaction from the council.”
The new proposal is actually a revised version of the sales tax subcommittee’s recommendation. The city’s portion of 45 percent would include 30 percent of the 1 percent sales tax and responsibility for the $280,000 payment on the wastewater treatment plant bond. That bond will be paid off in 2016, freeing up the funding for the city to use.
Boyd said what bothered the JSDC Board was the fact that not only did the City Council not consider the subcommittee’s original proposal, but it didn’t consider an alternative JSDC proposal either. The alternative gave the city a quarter of the sales tax to use in whatever way it chose and set aside another quarter for economic development infrastructure.
“We felt we had wasted our time trying to come up with a negotiated agreement,” he said.
Councilwoman Kelani Parisien said Boyd called her after the discussion with Nygaard and she responded favorably.
“With this proposal we would go back to the subcommittee’s split,” Parisien said. “We want to come up with a workable solution for both. That was one of the main goals with the sales tax subcommittee.”
She isn’t sure about putting the sales tax on the ballot in 2012. The seven-year sunset on the sales tax is an odd number, she said. She favors connecting the sunset date with election years to avoid having to have special elections.
“I think the council should go ahead and approve it now (for 2012), then pick a different date to go back to the voters,” she said.
The City Council has already had a first reading on an ordinance that would take half the 1 percent sales tax to reduce the city’s share of special assessments. It would also extend the sales tax to 2022. Following a second reading the ordinance would be enacted.
Should the council accept the JSDC proposal, the ordinance would have to be rewritten to reflect the new terms.
“This new proposal is in the best interests of the community,” Parisien said. “We need to work together.”
The JSDC Board had considered a petition drive, but, Boyd said, “this is not about choosing up sides.” The revised proposal is a compromise both the JSDC and the City Council can live with, he said, and taxpayers get a benefit.
“None of us have liked this situation,” he said. “We all want to continue to grow Jamestown.”
The proposal will be presented at the City Council’s Finance and Legal Committee meeting Tuesday.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org