by Dennis Dalman
It was definitely not a “good news night” for the Sartell City Council at its May 14 meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland, like a reluctant bearer of bad tidings, shared the news she had received earlier that afternoon.
Sartell, she said, will get only a drop in the bucket in state aid –only $3,300 in 2013, which is the same amount the city had received for this year. The state decided to freeze local government aid for 2013. Gartland said there were hopes in Sartell the state would give an extra $116,000 that had been scheduled at one time. That would have brought the 2013 government aid to $119,300. Gartland noted most cities in outstate Minnesota did well in government-aid distribution, but — alas — not Sartell.
Gartland also noted the authorization for cities in the greater St. Cloud area to extend the half-cent sales tax was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton because it was attached to a tax-cut bill reviewed Monday. Dayton said the tax-cut bill, crafted by Republicans, is unacceptable because its cuts are not paid for and because the cuts favor businesses over homeowners, in Dayton’s opinion. It is the second time in recent weeks Dayton has vetoed the tax-cut bill, which also includes the sales-tax extension authorization that voters could approve, as well as tax-credit provisions for small companies to encourage investments and to encourage the hiring of veterans and new college graduates.
Sartell and other area cities were hoping for approval to proceed with an extension to give staff enough advance time to prepare for a ballot and to survey citizens as to how they want sales-tax revenue spent. The current half-cent sales tax, which funds a variety of local/regional projects, will expire in 2018 unless voters give approval to extend it. But for that to happen, the legislature (and governor) must authorize the holding of a voter referendum on the issue. Those cities that now share in the half-cent sales tax are Sartell, St. Joseph, St. Cloud, Waite Park and St. Augusta.