County to consider sales tax Tuesday
Published 9:02 am Monday, July 10, 2017
The Mower County board on Tuesday will consider passage of the half-cent local sales tax to fund road and bridge construction.
If the sometimes-controversial tax is approved, it would help meet an estimated $6 million a year shortfall for road and bridge funding.
The board passed the tax last year and it’s scheduled to fuel another $1.5 million a year for construction starting in 2018. But the board approved it last year with the intention of pressing the Legislature for more funding.
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The end result was disappointing: the county will see $229,940 next year, but 40 percent must be used for maintenance, leaving the county with $137,964 for road or bridge construction.
That brings the board to Tuesday, where a half-cent sales tax could bring $1.5 million to the county coffers. The board will also consider approval of an increase of the wheelage tax, from $10 to $20 for an additional $370,000; and $60,000 from aggregate tax.
It already dedicated $400,000 a year in wind production tax revenue, $137,964 in the legislative funds and about $3.3 million would come from basic construction allotments.
To date, 52 counties, including Mower, have the wheelage tax and 30 have the half-cent sales tax. But most nearby counties have already implemented the half-cent sales.
Not all agree with the tax. During a public hearing, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandy Forstner spoke on behalf of local business against the tax, arguing it would raise Austin’s current 7.37 cent sales tax — of that, 6.875 cents is a state sales tax and the remaining half-cent is levied by the city — to near 8 percent, which would push customers away from local businesses toward internet shopping.
But rural residents spoke in favor of the tax.