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Language for Grand Forks sales tax bump could make Monday debut

Grand Forks leaders are expected to fire the starting gun on another push for a sales tax bump on Monday, reviewing long-awaited language for an increase.

That review, scheduled for immediately after the evening City Council meeting, is expected to start a process during which city leaders deliberate over the exact language of the increase before pitching it to voters before the end of the year.

City Administrator Todd Feland said that language, in the form of a draft amendment to the city's charter, will echo the plan leaders have already discussed but have not yet formally drafted—a 0.5 percent increase for 20 years for water and street projects. Those numbers, a starting point for further debate, are drawn from a proposal from the local Chamber, and would boost the local effective tax rate—including both city and state sales taxes—from 6.75 to 7.25 percent.

Voters rejected a sales tax pitch in November that asked for more. That proposal requested a 0.75 percent increase for 50 years, and lost after garnering only 44 percent of the vote. Mayor Mike Brown called for a second vote soon after, arguing that waiting means missing out on valuable sales tax dollars to back city projects.

The proposal will be reviewed at a City Council planning session during which leaders are expected to weigh a broad range of pressing city issues. This will be the third such session since the beginning of June, and is expected to dovetail into the upcoming city budgetary process.

City leaders hope the sales tax dollars can be used for multiple expenditures including the city's new, roughly $150 million water treatment plant under construction on the west side of the city.

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