by Dennis Dalman
By a large margin, Sartell voters in a special election Feb. 8 defeated a proposal for a 1.5-percent food-and-beverage tax. The unofficial results, as of Wednesday morning, were 462 no votes to 232 yes votes.
Those vote totals will not become official until the Sartell City Council certifies the election results at its Feb. 14 meeting. The proposal was voted down in all of the city’s seven precincts.
Voter turnout for the election was surprisingly low compared to city elections in the past, when thousands of voters turned out.
The request for the tax came from “Everything Sartell,” an organization that represents the city’s convention bureau and economic-development commission comprised of many business members, including bars and restaurants.
A 1.5-percent food-and-beverage tax would have raised an estimated $315,000 annually. That income would be set aside to be used for Sartell recreational needs, such as for maintenance of current amenities and creating new ones.
The tax would be paid by adding it to customers’ bills. For example, if a family dined out and the food-and-beverage bill was $50, an additional 75 cents would be added to that amount.
The only other city with a food-and-beverage tax in the greater St. Cloud area is St. Cloud itself. It has had a 1 percent tax on food and beverages for 35 years.