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County joins those seeking OK for referendums on sales taxes


February 21, 2020

Contributed photo

Carlton County Commissioner Marv Bodie, sheriff Lake and Rep. Sundin were before the House Property and Local Tax Division this week with the proposal for a half-cent sales tax to fund a new jail facility.

Voting to have your local sales taxes raised to fund a particular project isn't as easy as it used to be. Prior to this year, voters could approve proposals on Election Day, then ask the legislature and governor to give their blessing to the funding plans.

But the 2019 tax law called for stricter legislative control, including that voter approval can now only occur after the legislature has vetted the projects and granted taxing authority to a municipality or county to fund them. The proposals also must demonstrate that the projects have clear regional benefit beyond the city or county.

Not only that, but proposals had to be submitted to the House and Senate tax chairs and ranking minority members by Jan. 31.

That deadline was met by 20 cities and two counties, and the House Property and Local Tax Division is hearing their proposals over the course of six meetings. The first took place Monday and included the new jail being proposed by Carlton County.

Its bill, House File 3155, sponsored by Rep. Mike Sundin, was laid over for potential inclusion in an omnibus property and local tax bill, which could allow proposals to be on local ballots this fall.

Carlton County is proposing a half-percent local sales tax to fund a new law enforcement center and jail at a price tag of up to $40 million. The state recently put a sunset date of 2023 to close the jail since it no longer meets many required codes to operate.

~ House Public Information Services Office


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