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Published April 21, 2011, 10:10 PM

GF Mayor Michael Brown Supporting Library Sales Tax

Brown says he supports the "vote yes" campaign and one of his colleagues who is against the tax says the mayor's announcement doesn't surprise him.

Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown says voting "yes" for a one percent sales tax is actually the cheapest way to fund a new library.

After remaining mum on the topic until now, Brown says he supports the "vote yes" campaign and one of his colleagues who is against the tax says the mayor's announcement doesn't surprise him.

Brown summed up his feelings about the library at a press conference there on Thursday.

"It's like putting money into your old truck. Eventually it's time to buy a new one," Brown said.

The mayor says the same logic applies to replacing the current public library with a new building.

"I'm ready to vote yes for the one cent sales tax for a new library," Brown said.

He says Grand Forks needs a new library that and voting yes on a sales tax is investing in lifelong learning and the future. This means a new space twice the size of the old one, which sees more than 825 visitors in a day.

If passed, the tax will collect $20.8 million over the next three years.

"We have a very forward thinking mayor. He's looking out for the community," president of the Friends of the Library group Ray Siver said.

Brown, who was hesitant in supporting the project, says he spent a lot of time going over plans and budget estimates. He says a sales tax is the cheapest way to fund the project, rather than a potential sales tax increase later on.

"A library is going to be inevitable and I feel a no vote will just delay the inevitable and double the cost," Brown said.

"It's not inevitable. It's just your typical scare tactic," city council member Terry Bjerke said.

Bjerke is one of a few city council members who has been vocally against the project. Bjerke says he sees the multi-million dollar project as an extravagance and says local government should keep their hands out of other people's pockets.

"The only thing more predictable than the sun coming up in the east is Mayor Brown supporting a tax increase. He's never met a tax dollar he didn't want to spend," Brown said.

In the days before the election, Bjerke has been behind a campaign pushing to prevent a sales tax. He says the people will speak up at the May third election and, maybe later on.

"In June of 2012, the mayor and four other city council members are up for election and if they support this increase the people should send them packing and retire them," Bjerke said.

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