Rochester council prepares new sales tax proposal – Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — A renewal application for Rochester’s half-cent sales tax will make a return visit to the Minnesota legislature.

Rochester City Council voted unanimously just after midnight Monday to seek Legislative approval to hold a public vote on the tax, which is expected to expire in 2024 without further action.

A similar motion earlier this year stalled when lawmakers failed to take final action on a proposed tax law.

“Maybe with some momentum we can get things done this year,” Councilor Nick Campion said of the legislature, which begins Jan. 3.

Originally approved in 1983, the 0.5% sales tax generates approximately $12 million per year and is expected to expire in 2024 unless renewed with the approval of the Minnesota legislature and Rochester voters.

The current proposal envisages generating a total of $205 million, with $65 million earmarked for the proposed recreation complex.

Late in a session that lasted into early Tuesday morning, the council also approved an effort to solicit proposals to develop a final concept for the complex.

Deputy City Manager Aaron Parrish said the request is aimed at finding a consultant to research the community’s needs and expectations for the complex, which will include an artificial turf pitch, tournament-quality pickleball facilities and outdoor recreational facilities.

“It will give us a conceptual design,” Parrish said of the potential contract, adding that a site for the facility has not yet been defined.

The call for proposals was approved with the unanimous consent of the Council.

In addition to the proposed recreation complex, the city’s sales tax application is expected to include $50 million for street reconstruction projects, $50 million for an economic vitality fund that could boost local and regional housing efforts, and $40 million for future work in the area connection with flood protection and water quality.

The Minnesota Legislature is being asked to approve local votes on all four projects, but may choose to approve only a portion of the applications.

Additionally, current legislation requires the city to ask individual voting questions on each item, with a possible referendum in November 2024.

What happened: The Rochester City Council unanimously approved a motion to the Minnesota Legislature to authorize the renewal of the city’s half-cent sales tax.

Why is that important: The tax, originally approved in 1983, brings in about $12 million annually and is expected to expire in 2024.

What’s next: The city will send the motion to the Legislature, which returns to session Jan. 3.


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