All of our votes as commissioners are public records and are verified in the minutes of all the commission meetings. I’m very proud of my record as one that works to engage the community to make better use of existing resources, improve land use, and prove that conservation saves and pays. While I don’t always agree with my fellow commissioners, and my votes prove that, I listen carefully, look for verifiable information, offer viable alternatives, and most importantly treat people with respect. This is how we make progress.
A recent letter to the editor referring to me and my recent vote on a new Fargo sales tax proposal contained a flood of inaccuracies. Here are a few:
- ”Despite his supposed apprehension, Williams voted with the 4-1 majority in favor of the resolution, exposing his concerns as pretense.” Fact: March 19th, the commission approved a motion 3 – 2 putting a question for a new sales tax on the June 12th ballot. I voted against the motion as reflected in the minutes.
- The writer stated that proposed construction for rebuilding the NP and 1st Ave N corridors is estimated at $40 million. Fact: Engineers preliminary estimates for The NP and 1st Ave Corridor reconstruction is $4.5 – $5 million each, not $40 million. The engineers estimate for $40 million is for the 5 – 10 year scheduled downtown reconstruction projects from NP Ave north to 6th Ave north as these core streets (excluding Broadway that was rebuilt recently) and underground are among the oldest.
Property taxes are too high. My record as a citizen grassroots leader and sponsor of successful initiated measures have helped curb unnecessary increases in sales and property taxes.
- 1995 – 1996: Wrote the amendment to the Fargo Home Rule Charter and worked with friends and neighbors to collect the thousands of signatures that put a 60% voter approval for any new Fargo sales/use taxes on the ballot. This helps preserve sales tax for highest priorities.
- 2002: Worked with John Strand to sponsor an initiated measure to remove the Fargo School Districts unlimited taxing authority. We collected over 5,200 signatures and voters approved the mill levy cap. Since that time, thanks to needed state aid, the Fargo School mill levy for their general fund decreased from 295.46 to 250 mills.
- 2004: Prior to my election, the Fargo Commission voted 3 – 2 to approve a 1/4 cent tax on restaurant food. I attended several commission meetings to inform them the commission doesn’t have authority to pass a sales tax without the 60% voter approval. They said it wasn’t a sales tax. I worked with city attorney for opinion from ND Attorney General. He opined that it was indeed a sales tax and the commission rescinded their vote.
I believe we need to prioritize our community investments and leverage the gains in energy efficiency, better land use, and state aid to help avoid unnecessary new fees. I voted against establishing the new street light fee, voted against the recent water fee, voted against the annexation to 70th Ave, and voted against across the board two year tax exemptions for new homes no matter where they’re built. We need to target the incentives only for homes in areas with existing infrastructure to promote infill.
To better protect and avoid new property from future buyouts and expand river capacity, I initiated the discussion for extended river set backs to prohibit any new construction too close to rivers and drains that has now been approved.
It’s an honor to serve as a commissioner and elections matter. Fargo is a wonderful community and getting better everyday. With your help, we’ll continue to improve and grow beautifully.
My goals align with what we’ve heard from citizens in our year long GO Fargo 2030 community planning to help with quality growth for a more safe, efficient, and vibrant city.
The full community key initiatives ranking is available here.
Key Initiative Guiding Principles identified through GO2030 public responses:
- Permanent Flood Protection Water and Environment
- Promote Inﬁll Neighborhoods, Inﬁll, and New Development
- Public Art Arts and Culture
- Bicycle/Pedestrian Infrastructure Transportation
- Design Standards Neighborhoods, Inﬁll, and New Development