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Roseau County Board elects to wait on deciding on half-percent sales tax increase


The Roseau County Commissioners elected to wait at least a couple weeks, until its August 24 meeting, to take possible action on a half-percent county local option sales tax increase for transportation following an August 10 public hearing. The sales tax issue will be put on the August 24 agenda as a potential action item— a meeting set to begin at 8:30 am.

District Five Commissioner Daryl Wicklund said days prior to this hearing that he personally didn’t agree with the sales tax, but added how he is just one vote on the board. He mentioned how he would likely vote against it if it came to a vote.

At the public hearing, Wahl Brother’s Racing expressed its disagreement with the tax via letter, as did Curt Hauger of Ridge Sales via in person, both highlighting the tax’s competitive disadvantage from a business standpoint. Attending the meeting via Zoom, Russ Anderson expressed his disagreement with it too. Several county commissioners expressed their support for this tax.

This sales tax would apply to typical retail, excluding agricultural equipment and expenditures and motor vehicles, according to Roseau County Coordinator Jeff Pelowski. The dollars generated from this sales tax must go towards transportation projects or improvements, but don’t have to be used for roadways or bridges. A building that serves a transportation purpose would qualify for this sales tax funding, according to info about this tax provided in an August 10, 2021 Roseau County board packet.

What transportation projects could these tax dollars go towards? The county has a wish list of road projects, including those of low, medium, and high priority. Together, these projects amount to just over $49 million, with just under $18 million falling in the high priority. The County’s Road and Bridge Construction Program estimated a funding shortfall of $61,280,000, when also considering a new maintenance facility for these tax dollars.

This facility is being built now at the Roseau Industrial Park on the west side of Roseau on County Road 120. Pelowski explained how the county has the revenue to pay for this facility without this tax, but this tax gives the county another funding option if it runs into trouble. These tax dollars could help the county pay the principal and interest on the facility, but could also go to county roads, Pelowski said.

Currently, the general statewide sales tax rate stands at 6.875 percent and this half percent tax would increase it to 7.375 percent. This would generate $568,903 per year, according to an estimate from the Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR). To generate this revenue would require a 6.9 percent property tax levy, Pelowski explained.

“It’s (this sales tax) a way to take the pressure off the (property tax) levy, given the current conditions,” Pelowski said.

The Minnesota DOR estimates that about 70 percent of the share of these taxes will be collected from Roseau County residents and the remaining 30 percent from non-county residents.

To see the complete story, read the August 11 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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