All votes of Fargo city commissioners are public record and are verified in the minutes of all the commission meetings. I’m proud of my record as one who works to engage the community to make better use of existing resources, improve land use, and prove that conservation saves and pays.
Thanks to the Forum for publishing this recent letter to the editor:
Published April 04, 2012, 11:30 PM
Record on taxes is clear
All votes of Fargo city commissioners are public record and are verified in the minutes of all the commission meetings. I’m proud of my record as one who 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 commentary (March 31) referring to me and my 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 19, the commission approved a motion 3-2 putting a question for a new sales tax on the June 12 ballot. I voted against the motion as reflected in the minutes.
• The writer stated that proposed construction for rebuilding the NP and First Avenue North corridors is estimated at $40 million. Fact: Engineers’ preliminary estimates for the NP and First Avenue corridor reconstruction is $4.5 million to $5 million each, not $40 million. The engineers’ estimate for $40 million is for the 5- to 10-year scheduled downtown reconstruction projects from NP Avenue to Sixth Avenue North, as these core streets (excluding Broadway, which was rebuilt recently) and underground are among the oldest.
My record as a sponsor of successful initiated measures that have helped curb unnecessary increases in taxes:
• 1995-96: Wrote the amendment to the Home Rule Charter and worked with friends and neighbors to collect signatures that put a 60 percent voter approval for new Fargo sales/use taxes on the ballot.
• 2002: Worked with John Strand to sponsor an initiated measure to remove the Fargo School District’s unlimited taxing authority. We collected more than 5,200 signatures, and voters approved the mill levy cap. Since that time, thanks to needed state aid, the school mill levy for the general fund decreased from 295.46 to 250 mills.
• 2004: Prior to my election, the Fargo City Commission voted 3-2 to approve a quarter-cent tax on restaurant food. I attended commission meetings to inform them that the commission doesn’t have the authority to pass a sales tax without 60 percent voter approval. They said it wasn’t a sales tax. I worked with the city attorney for an opinion from the state attorney general. He said it was a sales tax, and the commission rescinded the 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 Avenue 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 setbacks to prohibit any new construction too close to rivers and drains, which has now been approved.
Fargo is a wonderful community and getting better every day. With your help, we’ll continue to improve and grow beautifully.
Williams is a Fargo city commissioner. He is seeking re-election.
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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