Belfield sales tax funding ‘dead project’Some Belfield residents are asking the City Council to consider repealing a sales tax ordinance, saying the project being partially funded by those dollars is a “dead project.”
Some Belfield residents are asking the City Council to consider repealing a sales tax ordinance, saying the project being partially funded by those dollars is a “dead project.”
Ordinance 239, which took effect in December 2006, dedicates half of a 1 percent city sales tax to street maintenance and the other half to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Belfield Watershed Project, including clean-up and maintenance on city-owned property along the Heart River and its tributary, according to city of Belfield information.
As of the end of April, about $123,000 sat in the Heart River fund, according to city information.
The watershed project was slated to be a flood control plan which involved lining the Heart River channel and making it deeper, said Dennis Reep, state conservation engineer with NRCS in Bismarck.
Reep said though the project hasn’t been “closed out,” it is not being funded, and no construction has been done.
Reep said talk of the project began as far back as 1968. Substantial planning on the project began in the late ’80s, he estimated.
Belfield resident Richard Volesky, who is representing an informal committee of Belfield residents proposing the change, said the watershed project is “unfortunately a dead project due to there being no federal funding.”
The committee is proposing that the ordinance be repealed and replaced with a new ordinance that directs the full 1 percent sales tax to street maintenance.
Larry Kadrmas, a committee member who has lived in Belfield since about 1967, said he feels the money would be better served repairing city streets.
“We’ve got trouble driving down the streets the way it is,” Kadrmas said. “If nothing else, we’re going to try to get it on this fall’s ballot.”
Belfield has a total sales tax of 2 percent. The other 1 percent goes toward other city uses and local organizations.
Robert Keogh, Belfield city attorney, said he may look into whether the issue would need to be voted on by residents were the council to decide to change the ordinance.
The matter is expected to come up at a future City Council meeting once more information is available, said Belfield Mayor Leo Schneider.
“The people voted it that way to start out with,” Schneider said. “It might have to go before a vote of the people.”