February 3rd, 2016 Note: Tune in to 550 KYFR tomorrow (Thursday, February 4th, 2016) at 4:00pm to hear a discussion of this topic. If you would like

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February 3rd, 2016

Note: Tune in to 550 KYFR tomorrow (Thursday, February 4th, 2016) at 4:00pm to hear a discussion of this topic. If you would like to make a comment or ask questions, the studio call in number is 701-258-0550.


Priority Discussion Needed With Bismarck Sales Tax Debate


With Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary campaigning hard for doubling the city's general sales tax, it is important to look very closely at the projects being used to justify such a tax hike.

Bismarck Road Projects

Earlier this month, the Bismarck Tribune compiled a story on the tax hike proposal, they itemized all the projects that have been lumped together as the supposed "$228 million worth of backlogged road projects". One thing missing from the story was an analysis of whether these projects really need to be done, and if so, whether they need to be done within the next 10-years as Mayor Seminary insists.

While many of the projects are not in dispute - six specific lines should be questioned as to their necessity, merit, and/or timing within the 10-Year window that has been determined.

$115 million out of $228 million

Out of the $228 million worth of road projects being targeted by the proposed sales tax increase, over half the dollar value is to be used on projects that have big question marks attached to them.

The following are the six of the line-item projects that the public should question the city commission about:

Hamilton Street

• $5 million for Hamilton Street — from Divide Avenue to Century Avenue - runs through the Hay Creek Valley with the train, just to west of old Mr. B’s trailer park – if this was a priority, why was Divide straightened to connect directly with the Expressway? Why wasn’t this done first to by-pass the truck traffic at the interchange on Expressway at I-94?

Divide Ave

• $11.9 million for Divide Avenue — from Bismarck Expressway to 66th Street – why does Divide need to be extended out to an area where so few people live? The residential units out that way have not yet been annexed into the city, and from 52nd St. to 66th St, only the north side is currently in city limits.

66th Street Interchange

Finally, 4 of the questionable line items relate to a proposed 66th Street Interchange on I-94 East of the current furthest east exit:

• $23.23 million for 66th Street/I-94 new interchange – why spend so much when only the landfill is out that way now in city limits? Any future industrial use can be paid for by the industrial users.

• $12 million for Century Avenue — from Centennial Road to 66th Street – Centennial to 52nd Street is probably justified, however building out to 66th for an interchange to no-where is questionable.

• $35.54 million for the 66th Street/71st Avenue bypass, north of I-94 – too soon for this bypass, especially during an economic downturn.

• $27.66 million for 66th Street bypass, south of I-94 - too soon for this bypass, especially during an economic downturn.

While there in agreement on a lot of these projects, the fact that half of the 10-year budget is on projects that are questionable should be addressed before the public is asked to raise their own taxes.


-Dustin Gawrylow, Managing Director

North Dakota Watchdog Network

(701) 390-9231


With the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce hosting its townhall forum on February 11th (see details below) - we would like to get our own pulse of the community when it comes to Bismarck's fiscal policies.

If you have not already done so, please take 3 minutes and complete a short survey on this issue on our website by clicking here.

If you are not a Bismarck resident, or would like to be removed from future mailings, simply reply to this email and ask to be removed from our Bismarck list or from future mailings entirely.


Public Input Needed At Bismarck Chamber of Commerce Forum

Chamber Forum

On February 11th, the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce will be holding a discussion forum at the BSC National Center for Excellence in Energy regarding the proposed sales-tax increase and the infrastructure needs that Bismarck-Mandan has.

Mayor Mike Seminary has made this tax hike his personal mission, but there are some questions that he and other commissioners must answer.

We hope that you will attend the Chamber's public forum and ask these questions of those supporting higher taxes:

1. Has Bismarck’s growth been “productive growth” or simply “growth at any cost”?

2. Why hasn’t the growth Bismarck has experienced been able to pay for the public costs of the growth?

3. Does the city realize that the need for higher taxes proves that the growth has not paid its own way?

4. Why does the city have a “growth management plan” if it does not keep the public cost of growth below the revenue generated by the growth?

5. Has the city devised a long-term policy to ensure that the costs of growth will not outweigh the benefits of growth if voters approve a tax increase?

6. How will the city change its ways to ensure that the cost of growth does not exceed the benefits of growth in the future?

7. What actions has the city taken to ensure that growth is at worse a revenue-neutral situation?

8. Why should the current residents of Bismarck support growth if the growth is going to cost everybody more in taxes?

9. If generating more revenue from visitors is the solution, why is that not enough with the sales taxes as they are today?

10. How can the city prove that this tax increase will do the job?

Chamber Townhall

Sales Tax Debate Information

-Dustin Gawrylow, Managing Director

North Dakota Watchdog Network

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