Watford City considers making a change to the local sales tax

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When Watford City raised the local sales tax to 1 1/2 – percent in 2014, the city council didn’t think they would have to ask the voters to re-examine the tax so soon.

Justin Voll, Mayor of Watford City, said local sales tax is important to any small community.

“We have funded a lot of local initiatives that are dependent upon the sales tax, mainly the Rough Rider Center and McKenzie County Hospital”.

Right now there’s a local sales tax cap of $25 dollars on what the city can collect per purchase, and the city is looking at removing it.

“We need to make sure that sales tax revenue is there on a monthly basis,” said Voll.

When filing tax returns, shoppers can apply for a refund on anything over the cap.

“Most merchants aren’t set up to cap it at $25 right at the store. You would have to do that on your own, where you make a refund through the State of North Dakota,” said Voll.

Watford City collects about $250,000 every month in local sales tax, but during the month of January in 2017, the fund didn’t collect a single penny due to refunds.

“Having a cap where people have up to three years to claim a sales tax refunds really puts the city in jeopardy far as knowing exactly how much is there on a monthly basis,” said Voll.

 The local sales tax collected goes into the Rough Rider Fund, which is then used on capital projects that can have a positive economic impact on the city. One of the projects the city is looking at is the Watford City Municipal Airport.

“Right now the airport is not long enough to support the larger aircrafts that are needed for the corporate oilfield traffic,” said Luke Taylor, Manager of Watford City Municipal Airport.

Expanding the airport would cost $21-million dollars, but Taylor said the project would be a huge benefit to the area.

“Without a longer runway they will go other places besides Watford to locate their businesses and jobs. The jobs that could be created here because of the expanded airport could be significant”.

If and when Watford City decides to removes the local sales tax cap, it will be voted on in the June Election of 2018.

This past Summer, Tioga residents voted in favor of removing the city’s $25 local sales tax cap.

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