County may OK plan for half-cent sales tax

Published 7:13 am Monday, July 4, 2016

The Mower County board is ready to take another look at the work that could be completed with the help of a half-cent sales tax for road and bridge projects, and the board could approve the plan and set public hearing dates Tuesday.

During its 1 p.m. board meeting, Public Works Director Mike is slated to present a final version of the more than 40 projects that would be completed over the next 10 years with the help of the sales tax dollars, should the board eventually vote to approve the tax.

In June, Hanson presented a list of the roads and bridges in a tentative list, many of which haven’t been reconstructed in several years. The projects could be completed at anytime over the 10 years of the sales tax. The roads are also ones that are highly traveled in the county.

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“The whole thing is heavy on looking at the traffic volumes,” Hanson said last month. “The roads that are used would be getting the most attention.”

The board has been discussing how to address a roughly $100 million need for road and bridge projects over the next decade and an estimated funding shortfall of $6.5 million per year.

If the board votes to enact the half-cent sales tax, it would slim the county’s projected annual funding shortfall to $5 million a year, but it wouldn’t completely eliminate funding shortfalls.

The projects outlined in Hanson’s preliminary report wouldn’t exclusively use money from the sales tax. Hanson estimated the county would need about $5.15 million a year to complete the proposed projects, with $3.3 million coming from the gas tax, $350,000 coming from the wheelage tax and $1.5 million coming the half-cent sales tax.

County staff noted even approving the sales tax won’t completely fix the county’s road issues. It’ll just address about $1.5 million of the more than $6.5 million projected annual shortfall.

On Tuesday, the board is also slated to schedule public hearings to gauge public feedback on the plan before the board votes to approve or reject the tax in August or early September. If approved, the sales tax would be implemented in January 2017.

In other business, the board is slated to discuss changes to its Sold Waste Service Charge and four conditional use permits.

The county board meets the first, second and fourth Tuesday of each month in the basement board room of the Mower County Government Center, 201 First St. NE.