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Published November 02, 2010, 11:31 PM

Cass County Residents Pass Flood Protection

Residents of Cass County on Tuesday approved a sales tax for flood protection from a river that's currently over its banks.

By: Associated Press,

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Residents of Cass County on Tuesday approved a sales tax for flood protection from a river that's currently over its banks.

The proposed half-cent sales tax is slated to help fund a Red River diversion and other flood control projects. The tax will be in place for 20 years and supporters estimate it will raise $220 million.

With all Cass County precincts reporting, the measure had 64 percent approval in unofficial returns.

"I'm pleased because you don't win them all," said Dennis Walaker, the Fargo mayor who has led the city in back-to-back spring flood fights. "It passed because the people are sick and tired of the flood protection process they have in place today."

A minor flood warning is in effect for the Red River because of recent heavy rains.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the cost of a diversion at $1.4 billion. The federal share would be $650 million, with the remaining $750 million coming from state and local governments in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Proponents say the diversion is the only permanent solution to the physical, emotional and financial toll of chronic flooding.

"What's half a cent?" asked Fargo college student Steven Horn, 28, who voted for the measure. "Most people don't see half a cent."

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