Property Tax Reduction In Williston | VideoEvan Kruegel | 6/27/2012
"When we do infrastructure projects, letís say were replacing a street or a water or sewer line. Many times a large portion of that gets paid by sales tax, not by property tax. And that`s a benefit to everybody, you have to recognize that those sales tax dollars are being paid not just by local residents, but by all the people that are coming here and people visiting the community," said Mayor Ward Koeser.
Williston collects two cents sales tax on every dollar that`s spent in the city. Last year, there were over $2.5 billion of taxable sales.
"Obviously itís helpful, but were dealing with a lot of impact here, and I can`t minimize that the Impact is very great. There should be additional compensation, in my mind, beyond the sales tax number. There should be additional compensation from the state," said City Auditor John Kautzman.
While the increased sales tax dollars are appreciated, they simply aren`t enough for a city with the infrastructure problems that Williston has.
"We have a huge need just to pay for the additional employees we have. We hired six new policeman this year, seven new people in public works, new building inspectors, new planners and you have to have the dollars you need to pay those. Plus, in our community, were having to pay higher salaries to compete with the oil industry. So if we had more dollars from sales tax, we wouldn`t have to put as much pressure on the property taxes, which is where you normally fund those types of expenses," Koeser said.
Williston collects between $10 and $12 million a year in sales tax revenue. Koeser says the city needs two or three times that amount to keep pace with the impact from the oil industry.
With the unprecedented growth Williston continues to see, sales tax revenue will continue to increase, but so will the infrastructure needs.