Bismarck: raking in the cash, unsure how to spend it

North Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2005  | January 2005 issue

The 1 percent sales tax Bismarck passed in 1986 now generates about $8 million a year. Some of the money goes to build roads and reduce property taxes, but there's still plenty left, and city residents will decide how to use it.

Every few years, local residents vote on how to spend the extra revenue, usually on community development packages, which must receive better than 60 percent approval to go forward.

One of the possible destinations is the Northern Plains Commerce Center already under construction near the Bismarck airport. The city announced in September that the facility, which would transfer cargo between trains, trucks and planes, would open next year. While the project doesn't appear to need funds immediately, it might for later phases of construction.

Other proposals include a regional police and fire training complex and a new Memorial Bridge spanning the Missouri River, to begin construction in 2007. But some residents and city commissioners would rather just use the extra funds to reduce property taxes further.

Joe Mahon