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Posted 3/06/13 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Have you ever really thought about how much good a few pennies can accomplish? Most of us toss our loose change (be it a few pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters) into a dish or container at the end of the day and forget about them. Or at least we forget about them until the container is finally overflowing. And then all that loose change is hauled to a bank where once it is all counted, it suddenly turns into quite a nice surprise. All of sudden with that newfound sum of money, we are able to buy something special or treat the family to a meal out.
The same thing can be said for Watford City’s one percent city sales tax that is deposited monthly into the city’s Roughrider Fund. Most people give no thought whatsoever to that one percent tax that is tacked on when they shop, dine or stay in a motel in Watford City. We just pay the tax and go about our business. We don’t really know where it goes or what it does.
But those few pennies that are tacked onto our bills with our purchases are definitely making a huge difference in Watford City.
Last week, the McKenzie County Farmer carried a front page story on all of the great things that the Roughrider Fund has done, and is doing, in Watford City thanks to the $2 million that was generated in 2012.
To realize that the city collected over $2 million in one year from a  one-percent city sales tax is staggering. Especially, when you consider that in 2006 the fund collected just under $170,000 and by 2010 it was collecting less than $450,000.
But by 2011, the impacts of the oil boom in McKenzie County and the associated increase in business that was being experienced started to show up in dramatic fashion as the city’s one-percent sales tax almost took on a life of its own. In 2011, the fund’s yearly income very nearly doubled to $980,000. And this past year, it more than doubled to $2 million.
Like I said, while the growth has been staggering, it is how those funds are being used to improve this city that is truly amazing.
Consider if you will, in the past year, the Roughrider Fund has been able to contribute $1 million toward the Wolf Run and Wolf Pup Daycare projects, $250,000 to the Prairie Heights housing project being built by Lutheran Social Services, $500,000 to the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems for an apartment complex, $600,000 toward the new Connie Wold Wellness Center, $65,000 to the McKenzie County Ambulance Service for trained paramedics and $36,000 to help the Anova Family Health Clinic open.
A very impressive list of projects that will go a very long way to helping meeting the needs of Watford City both today and into the future.
So the next time you look down at your bill and wonder where those taxes are going and what they are doing, you will know that at least one percent of your city sales taxes are being plowed right back into making Watford City a better place to live.