Sales tax remains on ballotThe Red Wing City Council voted Monday night to override the mayor’s veto and keep a local option sales tax on the ballot this fall.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
The Red Wing City Council voted Monday night to override the mayor’s veto and keep a local option sales tax on the ballot this fall.
Mayor Dennis Egan had asked City Council members to consider a smaller package.
“I didn’t do it lightly,” Egan said of the veto, thanking those that put in the work to explore the tax. But the proposed plan allowing the city to garner up to $14.88 million in a maximum of 20 years from a half-percent tax was too much, he said.
“What I was hearing and my personal belief is that was too big a package to start off with,” Egan said.
Faced with time constraints and other concerns, the council overrode his veto 6-1 and kept the projects and price tag the same. Council member Dean Hove again voted no.
Egan suggested eliminating the riverfront projects from the local option sales tax package. He said he supported the projects but thought the Port Authority and Harbor Commission, paired with private investments, could move those forward.
Attorney Eric Quiring told the council it could be risky to eliminate projects now because the state requires those to be set at least 90 days before the vote, and that date has passed.
“I feel timing wise we’re caught between a rock and a hard place,” Council member Lisa Bayley said. She emphasized she would like to bring the costs down for the projects as much as possible, but didn’t think it would be prudent to reword the ballot question now.
The proposal allows for spending less than $14.88 million on the projects, though not more.
The projects involve riverfront improvements such as trail work, boat docking and a marina building, repairs to the Sheldon Theatre, work to make Highway 61 safer and easier for pedestrians to cross and partnering with the Red Wing Area Seniors and Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation to purchase and develop the Pottery Place Annex.
Council member Peggy Rehder said all the ideas came from or aligned with plans the city had previously worked on and should move forward.
“I think it’s time to fish or cut bait,” she said. “I think we should go forward and let it all sort itself out.”
“I feel strongly that it’s time to let people have their say,” Council member Mike Schultz agreed.
Schultz and Rehder said they were upset with the timing of the veto, which the mayor submitted Monday afternoon.
Egan said after the meeting that this is not the first time the idea of paring down the package has been discussed, and he was “disappointed” some council members would indicate that.
A smaller package was part of the conversation during last week’s special meeting, though a motion put forward to reduce the amount did not move forward.
The Local Option Sales Tax Advisory Committee sifted through 13 project ideas submitted using a number of evaluation criteria and made a recommendation to the council before it voted on the question Aug. 6.
Even if Red Wing voters approve the half-cent local option sales tax in November, the state Legislature also will have to give its consent before the tax can be put in place.