July 24, 2012 Special Meeting
Minutes of the Board of Ward county Commissioners
July 24, 2012
The special building space need meeting of the Ward County Commission was called to order by Chairman Fjeldahl at 9:00 am with Comms. Nybakken and Gruenberg present and Comm. Christianson joining via phone. Also present were States Attorney Roza Larson, Architect Don Davison and Auditor/Treasurer Devra Smestad. Committee members present were Orlin Backes, Greg Hagen, Bruce Walker, Jerry Chavez, Danny Deaver, Al Hanson and Chuck Leet.
Comm. Christianson stated that he and Comm. Nybakken met with the Minot Daily News and they are no longer interested in the Library lot, but in the property of Morgan Printing who is interested in getting rid of the lot, but not for 1-2 years. They are recommending we move forward with what we have.
There was a clarification to the minutes of July 10 where it was suggested Ward County consider increasing the ½ cent sales tax another ½ cent to ensure the County’s financial responsibility in the repair of flooded roads and changes to the dike. The suggestion was to implement a ½ cent sales tax with $10 million going to infrastructure. Moved by Comm. Nybakken, seconded by Comm. Gruenberg to approve the minutes with the noted clarification. Roll call: all voted yes; motion carried.
Davison reported having no further contact with MDU regarding the substation and it cannot be moved east without additional land, so it will have to be moved as far north as possible.
There was discussion on the proposed resolution and ballot question for the ½ sales tax. Comm. Christianson moved his proposal: “Shall the Ward County Commissioners be authorized to issue sales tax revenue bonds, not to exceed $16,965,000, for the purpose of constructing an Office building, and to implement and collect a one half of one percent (.05%) sales tax as outlined in Ordinance 2012-1, which states that the sales tax shall take effect on January 1, 2013 and shall expire on December 31, 2019, unless all necessary funds are collected earlier?” Motion failed for lack of a second. Bruce Walker recommended the Commission proceed with the draft resolution and ballot wording presented by States Attorney Larson:
WARD COUNTY ORDINANCE 2012-1
CONSTRUCTION AND FINANCING FOR OFFICE BUILDING, JAIL EXPANSION, COURTHOUSE RENOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIRS DUE TO 2011 FLOOD AND RISING GROUND WATER
It is the purpose of this Ordinance to facilitate raising the funds for an Office Building, Jail Expansion, Courthouse Renovation, and Infrastructure Repairs due to the 2011 Flood, excessive snow fall the winters of 2009, 2012, 2011 and rising ground water. It is also the purpose of this Ordinance to provide property tax relief.
Over the past thirty one (31) years Ward County has been renting office space to accommodate the needs of Ward County Social Services. Currently Ward County pays rent monies of over $326,677.00 annually from the general fund. In the last three (3) years Ward County has seen an increase in population due, in part to the oil and gas exploration and production in the counties to the west. This increase in population has contributed to the growing needs of additional staff to handle Social Service, Zoning and Permits, Tax and Assessments, Property Recording, and Criminal matters.
There were record snowfalls and snow accumulation in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2011 Ward County encountered an unprecedented flood event. With the prior snow accumulation, followed by the flood bridges and roads were damaged beyond repair. Additional road and bridge damage has been caused by rising ground waters, making certain Ward County roads impassable or completely washed out. These damages and roads do not meet the requirements necessary for Federal and State Funding.
Estimated costs for the Office Building are $15.3 million. This Building would include community rooms, all “non-court” county offices (Auditor/Treasurer, Tax Assessor, Social Services, County Recorder, Veterans Administration, and County Extension). This building would also be the home of the Ward County Commission Chambers, and possibly an Emergency Command Center.
Estimated costs of the Jail Expansion are $10.5 million. This would include adding two (2) additional cell blocks, to accommodate housing 164 prisoners total. This would also include renovating the current Ward County Sheriff’s Office for additional cell block and bed space.
Estimated costs for Courthouse Renovation are $3.5 million. This would include updating all electrical and communication/technological support. It would include moving the Ward County Sheriff’s Department to the first floor to provide better security, moving the State’s Attorney’s Office to the second floor with office space and conference rooms to accommodate victims, families and witnesses in need of assistance.
Estimated costs for Infrastructure repairs are $10 million. Currently Ward County Highway Department, Ward County Emergency Manager, and the Ward County Auditor’s Office are working closely with both the Federal and State Government Officials for funding for purposes of deflecting costs of the 2011 flood damage and rising ground water. However, some of these damages are being found to not meet criteria necessary. Repairs to County Roads and Bridges are necessary for effective safety and transportation of Ward County residents and those traveling within the boundaries of the County.
Ward County is operating under Home Rule Charger approved by the voters. Article 2 (b) Home Rule Powers, reads in part:
“To control its finances and fiscal affairs; appropriate money for its purposes, and make payments of its debts and expenses; subject to the limitations of Article 8, levy and collect taxes, excises, fees and special assessments for benefits conferred.”
Article 8 Section 1 reads:
“Subject to the provisions of this Article, Ward County will have the authority by ordinance or resolution to the Board of County Commissioners, to levy and collect property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, motor vehicle registration fees, excises, fees and special assessments for benefits conferred.”
Article 8 Section 2(b) reads:
“No ordinance or resolution may be adopted by the Board of County Commissioners implementing a new or additional tax not currently being levied or assessed until referred by the Board of County Commissioners for approval by the electorate at any regular or special county election.”
BE IT ORDAINED:
Definitions: All terms defined in Chapter 57-39.2 and 57-40.2, N.D.C.C., including all future amendments is adopted by reference.
Sales and use tax imposed: Except as otherwise provided in this article, a tax of one half of one percent (0.5%) is imposed upon the gross receipts of retailers from all retail sales within the corporate limits of Ward County, North Dakota on those gross receipts taxed pursuant to Chapter 57-39.2 N.D.C.C. and on the storage, use or consumption within the corporate limits of Ward County, North Dakota of items subject to the use tax pursuant to Chapter 57-40.2, N.D.C.C., subject to the exemptions listed below.
Exemptions: All sales, storage, use or consumption of tangible personal property which are exempt from imposition and computation of the sales or use tax of the State of North Dakota are specifically exempt from the provisions of this article. In addition, the following exemptions apply:
Maximum tax imposed: No single transaction involving one or more items is subject to a tax in excess of $12.50. Any patron or user paying a sales or use tax imposed by this article in excess of $12.50 on any single transaction of one or more items may obtain a refund of excess tax payment by filing a request for refund upon forms provided by North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner.
Collection and administration: The Tax Commissioner and the County Auditor for Ward County shall have the powers enumerated in the provisions of Chapter 57-39.2 and 57-40.2, N.D.C.C. relating to the collection and administration of the state sales and use tax, including all administrative rules adopted by the Tax Commissioner. The Tax Commissioner is authorized to establish rate tables integrating the tax imposed by this chapter with other State, County and City taxes.
Contract with State Tax Commissioner: The County Auditor for Ward County, North Dakota, is hereby authorized to contract with the Tax Commissioner for the administration and collection of taxes imposed by this chapter. The County Auditor has all powers granted the Commissioner, and in the absence of a valid contract with the Commissioner or failure of the Commissioner to perform the delegated duties, shall perform these duties in place of the Commissioner.
Dedication of tax proceeds: The revenues raised and collected pursuant to this Ordinance, less administrative expenses charge by the State Tax Commissioner, are hereby dedicated and shall be utilized exclusively for the retirement of sales and use tax revenue bonds issued for the construction of a Office Building, Courthouse Renovation, Jail Expansion and Infrastructure Repairs due to the 2011 Flood and rising Ground Water damage to Ward County property located in Ward County, North Dakota.
Term: The tax imposed by this Ordinance shall become effective on the later of (a) final passage and approval and (b) ratification of the ordinance by a majority of the voting in the regular election to be held on November 6, 2012 and shall end no later than November 5, 2022, with the exception that the County Commission shall direct the State Tax Commissioner to cease collecting the sales and use tax once the amount collected by the sales and use tax is sufficient to retire all sales and use tax revenue bond debt incurred for the Office Building, Courthouse Renovation, Jail Expansion, and Infrastructure Repairs due to damage by 2011 Flood and Rising Ground Water.
Comm. Fjeldahl asked for a show of hands from the Citizen Committee if they agreed with the recommendation.
Moved by Comm. Gruenberg, seconded by Comm. Nybakken to pass Resolution 2012-1 on first reading. Roll call: Comm. Gruenberg, Nybakken, and Fjeldahl voted yes; Comm. Christianson voted no; motion carried.
District Court Judges McLees, Lee, and Mattson appeared to discuss their concerns on the renovation of the courthouse and stated the plans from 2006 will not be adequate to meet the expanding needs of the District Court. Architect Davison will meet with the court personnel before the next meeting. He is also planning to work with a consultant specializing in jail and sheriff office design.
The next meeting was set for Wednesday, August 15th at 9:00 a.m.
At 10:00 a.m., the meeting was adjourned.
ACCEPTED AND APPROVED THIS 7th DAY OF AUGUST, 2012.
s/ John Fjeldahl –Chairman, Ward County Board of Commissioners
ATTEST: s/ Devra Smestad - Auditor/Treasurer, Ward County
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