Cloquet mayor delivers city sales tax resolution to legislatorsLast Wednesday Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren hand-delivered a resolution to state legislators in St. Paul seeking permission to put a city sales tax to a vote this fall during the General Election.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Last Wednesday Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren hand-delivered a resolution to state legislators in St. Paul seeking permission to put a city sales tax to a vote this fall during the General Election.
It’s an approach he, city councilors and administrators are hoping will catch the attention of legislators, who have not approved Cloquet’s previous bids for the tax in the past decade.
City officials actually gave up on the city sales tax several years ago after failing to get the nod from the state.
This year is different, according to city councilors, who said in early March they must do something to counteract the continued unallotment and reduction of Local Government Aid to the city. They also cite as a reason for the tax that the city must provide services to the Fond du Lac tribal properties within the city without receiving any taxes or cash in lieu of property taxes from the band. The resolution further states that expensive city projects have regional significance because many non-Cloquet residents use city services and facilities not offered in other nearby communities. That regional aspect to the request seems to have been a factor in cities that have been approved in the past, according to City Administrator Brian Fritsinger.
The local sales tax likely would be a half-percent. Back when they first began lobbying for the tax in 2000, city officials estimated it would bring $500,000 into the city’s coffers every year.
The sales tax would apply to retail sales made and taxable services provided within the city. Items not taxed by the state, such as clothing and food purchased in grocery stores, would also not be taxed under this designation. The tax on vehicle sales would be capped at $20.
The city’s resolution states numerous projects that would be funded by the tax proceeds including the finance of the extension and construction of all improvements associated with the potential retail development of property adjacent to Highway 33 and Interstate 35, including the payment of all debt service with bonds for such improvements.
Other proceeds would go toward eliminating outstanding debt owed to the city under the terms of a lease agreement and bond issuance for the construction of the Cloquet Area Recreation Center, as well as construction and completion of various parks and trails. The cost of engineering and construction of infrastructure improvements such as storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water in the city’s comprehensive land use plan would also be included, as would funding for operational expenses in the city’s public safety and public library departments.
Cities such as Proctor, Hermantown and Two Harbors all have city sales taxes and have had them for more than 10 years. Duluth imposes and administers its own local taxes.
Fritsinger said he’d likely hear in the next week whether local legislators would support the request.