1% Public Safety Sales Tax

What is the 1% PSST?

The 1% Public Safety Sales Tax (1% PSST) provides a supplemental revenue source to public safety agencies for operational and capital costs and for expanding behavioral health. It was voted in by the public in November 2014 for a period of 10 years: April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2025. Revenue from the tax is split 50/50 between Williams County and the City of Williston.

Between June 2015 and July 2022 a total of $157.7 million has been collected with $78.9 million having been remitted to the City of Williston. As of July 31, 2022, a total of $131.8 million has been expended by the 18 public safety agencies in Williams County. A breakdown of expenditures by purpose is illustrated in the penny pie chart.

Public Safety Agencies in Williams County

A total of 18 public safety agencies serve more than 40,000 people living and working in 2,148 square miles of Williams County.

  Agency Type Service Area Population (Williams County, 2020 Census) Service Area (in Williams County)
1 Grenora Ambulance Ambulance 724 509 sq. mi
2 Ray Ambulance Ambulance 1,722 557 sq. mi
3 Tioga Fire & Ambulance Ambulance & Fire Amb: 2,814
Fire: 2,202
Amb: 296 sq. mi
Fire: 3.5 sq. mi
4 Williston Fire Department & EMS Ambulance, Fire, NW Regional HazMat Team (NWRHT) Amb: 35,684
Fire: 29,174
NWRHT: 40,950
Amb: 786 sq. mi
Fire: 23.5 sq. mi
NWRHT: 2,148 sq. mi
5 UMRRDC Dispatch 40,950 2,148 sq. mi
6 Williams County/Williston Emergency Management Emergency Management 40,950 2,148 sq. mi
7 Alamo Rural Fire District Fire 319 228 sq. mi
8 Epping Rural Fire Fire 835 308 sq. mi
9 Grenora Fire Fire 480 329 sq. mi
10 Ray Fire Fire 1,100 269 sq. mi
11 Tioga Rural Fire Fire 612 283 sq. mi
12 Trenton Rural Fire Fire 585 31 sq. mi
13 Wildrose Rural Fire Fire 199 126.5 sq. mi
14 Williston Rural Fire Fire 5,438 496 sq. mi
15 Ray Police Department Law Enforcement 740 1.4 sq. mi
16 Tioga Police Department Law Enforcement 2,202 3.5 sq. mi
17 Williams County Sheriff's Office Law Enforcement 40,950 2,148 sq. mi
18 Williston Police Department Law Enforcement 29,160 23.5 sq. mi

How has revenue from the 1% PSST been invested in public safety?

Williams County

Using a grant-based distribution process, Williams County’s net proceeds are extended to the Williams County Sheriff’s Office, Williams County/Williston Emergency Management, and public safety agencies located outside of the City of Williston. The Williams County Public Safety Grant Committee reviews grant applications for referral to the Williams County Board of County Commissioners for final approval. Grants have also been extended to behavioral health providers for enhancing and expanding behavioral health in Williams County. Specific expenditures include:

  • Expansion of the Williams County Law Enforcement Center, including the addition of 112 beds to the Williams County Correctional Center
  • Construction of a new building to house both the Emergency Operations Center and Upper Missouri River Regional Dispatch Center (UMRRDC)
  • New police department buildings for the City of Ray and the City of Tioga
  • New fire and/or ambulance halls for Epping Rural Fire, Grenora Rural Fire, Williston Rural Fire, and Tioga Fire & Ambulance
  • Significant improvements to the fire halls for Grenora Rural Ambulance, Trenton Rural Fire, Wildrose Rural Fire, and Ray Rural Fire
  • Purchase and operation of a regional doppler weather radar to provide gap coverage for radar in western North Dakota
  • New/replacement ambulances, fire trucks/engines, and specialty equipment for responding to crisis and emergency situations

City of Williston

The City of Williston utilizes their net proceeds to pay down bond debt incurred prior to the tax implementation to cover capital and operational costs for the Williston Fire Department & EMS, the Williston Police Department, and for dispatch services through the UMRRDC. Specific expenditures include:

  • Remodel of Fire Station 1, construction of Fire Stations 2 & 3, and construction of the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Station at the Williston Basin International Airport (XWA)
  • Construction of a first responder training facility
  • Construction of a new Animal Control facility
  • Improvements to the Williston Police Department Impound Lot and Police Department Shooting Range
  • New/replacement ambulances, fire trucks/engines, and specialty equipment for responding to crisis and emergency situations

Future of the 1% PSST

On the November 8, 2022 General Election ballot, voters will be given the choice of whether or not to renew the 1% PSST for an additional 10 year period. Everyone, including visitors, temporary workers, and industry, contribute to revenue generation of a sales tax. With the growing population and increase of industrial activity, first responders are busier than ever. Costs to efficiently operate and equip public safety agencies have also increased. A renewal of the tax will continue to be a supplemental source of revenue for the 18 public safety agencies and Williams County will also use a portion of their share for enhancing behavioral health across the County.

• Population growth: The population of Williams County has nearly doubled since 2010 and future growth is projected as new industries develop across the county – this increases the population to be serviced.
• Industry growth: After experiencing downturns in the oil industry in 2016 and again in 2020, the industry is rebounding with activity and new industries have their eye on Williams County, thereby also increasing the demand on emergency services.
• Costs: The cost of operating a reliable public safety agency, as well as the cost of equipment, has significantly increased over the years.
• Projected income: By March 2025 when the initial sales tax sunsets, the projected revenue will be approximately $80 million less than originally projected for the 10-year collection period.

The 1% PSST is currently used as supplemental funding because many rural fire and ambulance districts are levying the maximum amount allowable, and districts that do not levy (e.g. the city they are associated with levies on their behalf) want to keep their property tax levy at a reasonable rate.

For perspective, the approximate cost of a standard new fire truck (pumper) is about $500,000; a fully-equipped truck can be upwards of $800,000. The average maximum annual property tax levy for a rural Fire District is about $207,000.

Without the 1% PSST, property tax, or unguaranteed revenue like grants, will have to be more heavily relied on to meet operational and capital needs.

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