Proposed Half Cent Sales Tax Would Provide Upgraded Radios to Cass County First Responders

Voters will approve or deny the tax on Election Day

CASS COUNTY, N.D. — Election Day is just a month away but Cass County voters will notice something new on the ballot. They will decide whether or not to approve a half cent sales tax increase.

Whether they’re responding to a fire, shooting or weather disaster first responders use radios to communicate 365 days of the year.

“Knowing that our Motorola radios are no longer being produced, that inventory on spare parts is rapidly depleting and that software will not be supported after this year means that we will be in a critical situation,” said Heith Janke, West Fargo police chief.

The half cent sales tax will allow them to keep that line of communication open. If approved, it will only be in place for a year and the $15 million revenue will upgrade Cass County’s radio dispatch system.

That means first responders across the county would receive 1,700 new radios.

“That’s a no brainer. We have to be able to communicate, we have to be able to talk to each other whether it’s a simple dispatch to go take a traffic crash at 4th and Main or it’s a highly complex, critical situation rapidly unfolding, we have to be able to communicate,” said Paul Laney, Cass County sheriff.

Cass County City Commissioner Chad Peterson says the half cent sales tax increase is estimated to save taxpayers $1 million as opposed to increasing property taxes. If the sales tax is not approved on November’s ballot, property taxes in Cass County will be increased over the next five years to fund the project.

“The sales tax makes the most sense because we have a lot of people that visit. Those people, when they dial 9-1-1, will be supported by the local people that respond. To me, it makes the most sense to have those people help fund the safety net that they’re going to benefit from,” Peterson said.

While some Cass County taxpayers say they don’t want to see an increase in sales tax, Peterson has the right idea about getting help elsewhere.

“A sales tax is probably more fair, simply because a lot of out of town come into Fargo and into Cass County to work from other counties. They should have to pay too,” said Tim Stallman, a Cass County taxpayer.

The entire state of Minnesota already has the armor radios for officers Cass County wants to purchase.

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