(Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series about the regional half-cent sales-tax question that will appear on the Nov. 4 election ballot.)
by Dennis Dalman
If Sartell voters do not approve an extension of the regional half-cent sales tax in the Nov. 4 election, those who live in Sartell will still have to pay that tax when shopping in other area cities, but Sartell itself will lose out on revenue generated from the regional tax.
That fact is pointed out in a video on the Sartell City website, one of three videos on that site designed to inform residents about the sales-tax ballot question.
The following information was presented on the first video jointly by Dennis Molitor, member of the Sartell Park Commission, and Jan Sorell, member of the Sartell Senior Connection.
The current half-cent sales tax was approved nearly 10 years ago by the six area cities: Sartell, St. Cloud, St. Joseph, Sauk Rapids, St. Augusta and Waite Park. The cost of goods and services in those cities includes an extra half-cent tax. The tax is set to expire Dec. 31, 2018. By special permission of the state legislature, all six area cities’ residents have a chance to renew the tax for a 20-year period, through the year 2038. Any city that does not vote for its renewal will receive no funding from the tax revenue generated in the other cities.
The first $900,000 of the revenue, each year, will be used to fund major regional projects that would benefit all cities – projects such as the St. Cloud Airport, an interconnected trail system and an aquatics center.
The rest of the revenue would be divided among the cities based on population and other factors.
In Sartell, up to half of the tax money generated could be used for such projects as parks, trails, shelters, a community center, senior center, activity spaces, gymnasium and branch library, community meeting rooms, with several of those functions perhaps being fitted into a large multi-purpose community center.
In addition, up to 50 percent of the revenue for Sartell could be used for road improvements, road extensions or new roads.
On the Nov. 4 ballot, there will be an explanation of what the sales tax could be used for followed by the ballot question itself, which reads as follows: “Shall the City of Sartell be authorized to continue the collection of a ½-percent sales tax through the year 2038 to pay for all or part of the above listed regional projects?”