A look ahead...
LWV public meetings are held in the Sons of Norway Lodge, 722 2nd Ave.
N., Fargo, in the meeting room behind the cafeteria. Members and guests
who wish to go through the buffet line and eat together (in the lodge
meeting room), may do so at 11:30 a.m.
January 4, 2002
First Friday at Sons of Norway Noon-1:00 p.m.
League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley
Study of Local Boards and Commissions
Speakers: Suzanne Dobbins and Barbara Headrick
January 16 , 2002, 5:10-6:30 p.m.
LWVRR Board Meeting
United Way Office, 219 7th St. S., Fargo
February 1, 2002, Noon-1:00 p.m.
First Friday at Sons of Norway
Keeping our Community Safe from Public Health Threats
Speaker: Maxine Adams, American Cancer Society
March 1, 2002, Noon-1:00 p.m.
Speaker: Cory Fong, Deputy Secretary of State for North Dakota
Events of Possible Interest
January 21, 2002, 7:00 p.m.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration
Program, speakers, film
(more info below.)
Saturday, February 16, 2002
Woodlands and High Plains Native American Powwow on the Concordia
campus. The event is sponsored bythe three local colleges and is
open to the public.
(more info below.)
7th Annual Freedom Lecture
March 3, 2002. 2:00 p.m.
Lutheran Church of the Cross, 1402 16th St. E. West Fargo
Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?
Speakers: Dr. Richard Chapman and Attorney James Leahy
The LWVND and RRV help sponsor this event. It is open to the public at
no charge. Refreshements will be served.
Communiversity brochure has further details.)
The League of Women Voters values diversity in its
members. In primicple and in practice, the League knows no barriers
on the basis of age, creed, disability, gender, national origin,
race or sexual orientation, and encourages full participation in
and contribution to the organization by all its members.
The ABCs of property tax exemptions
What are TIFs and PILOTs ?
TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts have been in the local news several
times lately, most recently as part of a disagreement between the West
Fargo School District and the City of Fargo. However, many people do not
understand exactly what a TIF district is, and why they may be controversial.
The next few paragraphs are an attempt at explaining TIFs, along with
other forms of property tax exemptions that the city of Fargo has used
over the years to encourage business investment, growth and economic development.
There are several different types of exemptions, some for residential
property and some for commercial property. The largest residential exemptions
are available for up to two years for certain new construction. There
are also several smaller programs available to homeowners in certain areas
of the city for remodeling and for others in special circumstances.
The exemptions that are available to commercial property owners involve
larger amounts of money, and are sometimes more controversial.
The two main varieties are known as PILOTs (Payment in Lieu of Taxes)
and TIFs (Tax Increment Financing). Both types allow commercial developers
to have a reduced property tax burden for a period of time. The city grants
this benefit in the hope that after the exemption period has ended, the
property and business will have increased in value, bringing in increased
tax revenue as well as new jobs and income for the local population.
PILOTs are available for new or expanding industries that
meet certain criteria. The property owner generally continues to pay taxes
on land, but is exempted from paying property taxes on buildings constructed
on the land for some amount of time (generally five years).
In other cases a longer period of tax reduction is granted. The property
owner and the city negotiate a payment schedule.
TIF districts are created to encourage development in parts of the city
that have not kept up with the progress shown in other areas.
These districts have generally been set up to last from 15 to 20 years.
During this time period, the city only receives tax income on the
original value of the property, even if the property has been developed
and increased in value. The difference (the Tax Increment) is used
to pay for such things as water mains and street improvements, that would
otherwise have been paid for by special assessments.
Since, in our area, approximately two-thirds of property tax income goes
to school districts, they are strongly impacted by property tax exemptions.
In the short term, these exemptions reduce the amount of income increase
that the school districts could receive from growth and development. The
Fargo City Commission makes the final decision on all property tax exemptions.
This means that the Commission can affect the revenue that the schools
receive in both the Fargo and West Fargo school districts since the latter
gets the portion of the property tax directed to schools from Fargo
land in the West Acres area.
Carol Sawicki, Fargo Commission Observer
From the President
HAPPY NEW YEAR FELLOW LEAGUERS! I hope
this latest issue of the Red River Valley Voter finds you all healthy
and happy and looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that
Reflection upon LWVRRV activities during 2001 reveals
great successes, including sponsoring the first annual Women in Action
Forum held at Concordia College this past fall (kudos to LWVRRV member
and collegiate chapter President, Colleen Herman for all her hard work
in organizing this amazing event!). We also joined forces with LWVMN
and LWVND to host a Leadership Workshop in October, sponsored numerous
candidates forums and took part in naturalization ceremonies.
Looking forward, the study group examining local boards
and commissions will be releasing their findings. We will be teaming up
with LWVND to study election administration reform in North Dakota and
sponsor a comprehensive election reform symposia to be held in Spring,
As an election year, 2002 holds great opportunity for LWVRRV
to once again take a leadership role in the local political scene.
This year is our chance to build on the success of our past leadership
to widen the influence and impact of LWVRRV.
The League cannot accomplish its goals without YOU! Please
volunteer in any way you can. Never before has LWVRR enjoyed such a collection
of time, energy, talent and money at its disposal. Feel free to
contact any board member to learn about volunteer opportunities.
Heres to a fabulous 2002!
Andrea Sather, President
League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley
Dispelling the myths about Islam
The November First Friday meeting attracted a full
house at the Sons of Norway as Concordia psychology professor, Dr. Mona
Ibrahim attempted to help the audience understand her religious
faith, Islam. Born in Egypt, Dr. Ibrahim recently became a U. S.
citizen here in Fargo.
At the outset, she explained that Islam means submission
to the one Gods will peacefully. Allah, the one God,
originated with Abraham known also to Jews and Christians. Islamic
believers or Muslims follow the teachings of Muhammed. They believe he
was a prophet who, over a period of 23 years, received revelations from
Allah about how to live a good life. These revelations were compiled
in the Quran. The religion is based on five tenets known as
"pillars" basic to Islam.
First is belief in one God, Muhammed as Gods
prophet, the holy books, and an after life. Second is prayer
practiced five times a day at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night.
Third is the giving of alms to the less fortunate. Fourth is the observance
of fasting and self denial during the Ramadan holy days. The final requirement
is a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia called the Haj.
During her remarks and challenges during the question period, Dr.
Ibrahim repeated that the Islamic faith is peaceful and that the
term "jihad," frequently used in the media as referring
to holy war, actually means a struggle within the believer to obey Allahs
She stated that there is "no concept of holy war in
Islam." She also mentioned that some Muslims retain cultural
practices which are not Islamic and may contribute to violent behavior.
Board member Diane Meyer has completed her radiation
treatments. Reports are that she looks great, enjoyed a family
Christmas and has been getting out and about.
Happy new year to all our members and readers!
Revised history of Fargo available
The book History and Growth of Fargo, prepared by Tim Holtzkamm
and Dean Dormanen for the Fargo Historical Preservation Commission in
1993; revised and edited in 2001 by David B. Danbom, Dept. of History,
NDSU, is available at area book stores including Zanbroz in downtown Fargo.
Around Leagues world
Appreciation is due to those who helped with the mailing of 230 local
league study surveys sent to members of city-appointed boards and commissions
in November. Thank you to Mary Davies, Marian Stine, Jackie
Cox, Marlene Batterberry and Audrey Richmond
Members helping with the candidates forums in Moorhead were: Janet
Van Amberg, Sharon Benzel, Bea Arett, Mary Davies, Andrea Sather, Donna
Chalimonczyk, Diane Meyer, Betsy Vinz and Helen Rudie. In addition,
help was received from non-members Rose Anderson, Bob Davies, Eric
Chalimonczyk, Roger Sipson and Susan Bekkerus.
Thanks to all.
Over 100 people attended the Moorhead city election candidates forum on
October 25 featuring sixteen candidates. A busy night!
A special thanks to David Martin of the F-M Chamber of Commerce,
Julie Marxen and Holly Heitkamp from Senior Connections/Hejmkomst
Prior to each legislative session LWVMN asks local leagues to do interviews
with their local legislators. Interviews serve to help us know our legislators
and for them to know the League and the issues LWVMN is following.
Questions for the 2002 legislative interview focus on agriculture campaign
finance, firearms, housing and long term care. The interviews are an opportunity
to get to know our legislators positions, not a time for us to lobby.
The state league keeps the interviews on file to refer to during the session.
We are to do the interviews prior to January 15. We will try to schedule
lunch or coffee with the three District 9 legislators in separate
meetings. If anyone is interested in attending any of them please call
Mary Davies, 233-2175 or email her at marBob7@
Its nice to have several people attend each meeting.
LWVMN Community Immigration Profile
The LWVMN has a current study on the impact of immigration in Minnesota.
As part of the study, leagues across the state are being asked to help
gather information on the statewide picture. In order to be included in
a state publication this information is due in the state office by March
1. If anyone is interested in helping gather this information, contact
Mary Davies, 233-2175.
Moorhead to host powwow
The Woodlands and High Plains Native American Powwow to
be held at Concordia College on February 16, 2002, will be the first traditional
powwow to be held in Moorhead in three years. In the past,
the spring powwow was one of the best-attended cultural events in the
F-M area. Emphasizing celebration rather than competition, organizers
expect dancers, drum groups and spectators from throughout the Midwest.
Bernice Grandbois, Concordias Director of American Indians Programs,
said, "The powwow is an opportunity for people from different cultures
to come together for mutual understanding and friendship...the powwow
is a social gathering where we teach our youth respect and traditional
Three local students have been named head dancers for the 2002 powwow.
They are Concordia student Nate Herman and twin sisters Amber and
April Ray of Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Students, staff, faculty, and F-M community members are invited to join
the planning committee for this important event. You need not be of American
Indian descent to join the committee.
For more information or to join the committee, contact:
Bernice Grandbois, Concordia College, 299-4171
Gus Claymore or Jody Steile, MSUM, 236-3572, or
Paul Boswell, NDSU, 231-7314.
Moorhead Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
At the December 18, 2001 meeting, Director Riaz Aziz announced
the Polar Party to be held on February 2, 2002. This will include a snowshoe
race, ice fishing demonstration and horse-drawn rides with the Red River
Harness Club. Activities will take place at M.B. Johnson Park.
Assess introduced the need for the parks department to do long-range planning.
State budget woes will present a challenge to city funding and parks/recreation
funding is especially vulnerable.
Aggressive planning is needed to assess future parks/recreation priorities.
There is a need for a comprehensive plan for capital improvements. A plan
needs to look at bike trails, improvements at the Village Green Golf Course,
the costs of after-school and summer
programming, efficiencies that would come in consolidating activities
such as skating rinks in fewer locations, and the costs of park improvements
in new property developments. It wasnt clear whether staff or the
advisory Board would be developing the long-range plan or what the timetable
A new $40,000 grant for Romkey Park has been received. The police and
Community Development Departments have prepared a proposal which will
provide two years of enhanced programming for youth at that site.
--Mary Davies, Observer
Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration
The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. will be marked with
a program at the Fargo Theater on January 21, 2002, at 7:00 p.m.
The Moorhead Human Rights Commission and the Fargo Human Relations Commission
along with other interested groups are planning the event.
There will be musical selections by several groups including a Trollwood
Multicultural Childrens Choir. Also featured will be a video of
Kings "I Have a Dream Speech," several speakers and the
presentation of human rights awards.
JOIN THE LEAGUE!
Support the good work of the League by becoming a member
renewing your membership. Send your check to: The League of Women Voters
of the Red River Valley, P.O. Box 295, Fargo, ND 58107.
Current dues are: Student: $ 12.50,
Individual: $ 40.00
Household $ 60.00.
Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number
and e-mail address.