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A new tax for BE city?

By Staff | Aug 13, 2017

Blue Earth shoppers may some day be seeing a tiny increase in the amount they have to pay for items if an idea at last Monday night’s City Council meeting comes to fruition.

City councilman John Huisman brought up an idea towards the end of the meeting concerning a city sales tax.

“A couple of downtown business owners suggested it to me,” Huisman told his fellow council members. “It could be a way to raise some funds for a specified project, like the pool slide, ball parks.”

He said there are many cities which have implemented a city sales tax. Some include Mankato, Fairmont and Albert Lea.

Usually the tax is a half percent tax, which would be $5 on a $1,000 purchase. The tax money goes into a city fund designated for one or more special projects.

And by law, Huisman said, the tax is for a set time period, usually 20 years.

Other city councilmen voiced interest in setting up such a tax, and designating it for park and rec projects, or even the city street improvement fund.

City administrator Tim Ibisch and city attorney David Frundt said they understand that it takes around a year to implement the tax, after the council approves the idea.

“The tax would have to be approved by the state legislature, and by a vote of the citizens of Blue Earth,” Frundt said. “That could take a year to get done.”

The council instructed city staff to look into the idea, and to figure out how much money would be raised by this kind of a tax.

They also instructed Ibisch to bring back information on how many cities do this in the state of Minnesota, and what sort of projects do they fund with the money.

Several councilmen expressed their approval of the idea of a city sales tax, saying it would bring in revenue from area people shopping in Blue Earth, and not just from city residents’ property taxes.

In other business Monday night, the City Council:

Learned that the city will be looking at having a new Blue Earth Municipal Airport manager soon.

The current managers, Tim and Barb Steier, are retiring at the end of the year, which is the end of their contract.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord said he wanted to give everyone a heads up and said this would be an excellent time to look over the management contract and see if any changes should be made.

“Would we be better off to contract out the mowing and snow removal, for instance,” Gaylord said. “If you want to make changes it should be done now.”

Requests for proposals for the airport manager position will be going out soon, the council learned. After that, the Airport Commission will look over the proposals and make a recommendation to the council.

Passed a resolution that would accept grant money for the construction of a new SRE (snow removal equipment) building at the Blue Earth Municipal Airport.

The local (city of Blue Earth’s) share of the more than $400,000 project is $26,000, with the rest coming from state and federal funds.

Construction is expected to start on Sept. 12.

Voted to send out letters to owners of two hazardous buildings requesting they be fixed up or demolished by Oct. 1. The two are located at 1030 E. Sixth St. and 224 W. First St.

Heard a recommendation from staff that certain blocks of Park, Grant, Childs and Hurds streets be vacated. Some are dead ends that are not used, others are part of the industrial area by the railroad tracks and are not suitable for through traffic.

The council will vote on the matter at the next meeting.

Heard an update from the city engineer regarding several projects that will get underway soon.

One is for the housing development by Lampert’s Lumber which has 90 percent of the plans completed and a cost estimate will be presented to the council soon.

The engineer asked the council if they thought the trees around the pond in the housing project area should be removed right away. The council thought there was no reason to do it right away.

The other large project is the reconstruction of the wastewater treatment plant. The engineer said work is expected to start at the end of this month.

Approved an ordinance which transferred property at 428 S. Nicollet St. from the city to the neighboring property owners.