May 2, 2018

Voters to decide on removing city sales tax cap

(Editor’s Note: On June 12, Watford City voters will be asked to decide on removing the $25 cap on the city’s sales tax.
As part of its election coverage, over the next several weeks, the McKenzie County Farmer will be doing a series of stories on the vote by county residents on the creation of a special taxing district for the McKenzie County Ambulance Service, as well as profiles on the candidates that will be appearing on the June ballot for city and county offices.)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Thanks to the Watford City city sales tax, the community has seen many improvements that have greatly enhanced the city and improved the lifestyle for area residents. Which is why Jeff Ruggles, chairman of the Watford City Roughrider Fund Committee, sees it as critical that city voters approve removing the city’s $25 sales tax cap in the June 12 election.
“The Roughrider Fund makes great things happen in Watford City,” states Ruggles. “It allows the city to build infrastructure and recreational projects that we could never dream of without it.”
Because of the city sales tax, the Roughrider Fund has most recently been able to help build the new McKenzie County Healthcare Systems hospital and clinic, and the Rough Rider Center. And in the past, it has been a financial contributor to building the Connie Wold Wellness Center, the Children’s Playground, Wolf Run Village and the Wolf Pup Daycare, as well as the McKenzie County Multi-Purpose Building, the McKenzie County Veterans Memorial Building and a host of other community projects.
In June of 2014, Watford City voters approved increasing the city sales tax from one to one-and-a-half percent on local purchases in order to help build the new healthcare facility and the Rough Rider Center, as well as to help with other proposed projects.
But in that 2014 vote, the city decided not to ask voters to remove the $25 cap on local purchases.
That decision to leave the $25 cap in place has proven costly to the Roughrider Fund as companies have asked for refunds of the city sales tax in excess of the $25.
“We lost a whole month of revenue because of the $25 cap,” states Ruggles. “We estimate that refund cost the Roughrider Fund approximately $300,000.”

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