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Carlton County Board OKs language for sales tax referendum

The local option sales tax referendum language Carlton County residents will vote on in November has been finalized by the county board. If approved, money from the referendum will be used to finance the county's justice center project.

Carlton County Transportation Building
The Carlton County Transportation Building . Dylan Sherman / 2022 file / Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — The Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved the language for the local option sales tax referendum voters will see on their November ballots during a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Should the referendum be approved by voters it would add a half-cent increase in local sales tax to finance the cost of the $65.8 million justice center project. If the measure is not approved by voters, the justice center will instead be funded by property taxes.

Despite the amount of time before the general election, county auditor Kevin DeVriendt said the language needed to be approved before he could request the ballots that will be used for mail-in voting.

"It might seem early, but the ballot order comes in the next few weeks," he said.

DeVriendt said it was "probably overboard" to have a motion to approve the language, but with the importance of the measure, he wanted to have all commissioners on the same page. The language had also been examined by the Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola, the county's bond counsel and the citizen advisory board for the justice center project.


The language that will be used for the ballot measure reads as follows:

"Header: How will the new justice center be paid for?

"The new Carlton County Justice Center is being built. Shall Carlton County be authorized to pay for construction costs through a county wide one-half (0.5%) local option sales tax?

"A yes vote means that the majority of the costs would be financed through the sales tax.

"A no vote means the majority of the costs would be financed through property tax."

Jail administrator Paul Coughlin gave the board an update on the jail project during the meeting, as construction began on the project July 25 and crews have begun to survey the area. While the third bid package has yet to come back, Coughlin said crews will start removing trees in the area soon and a fence will be put up to keep are around the project secure.

Officials have also prepared presentations on the justice center they intend to present at the Carlton County Fair and Ma and Pa Kettle Days. County officials encouraged residents who have questions about the project to visit the booths at the events to get answers and learn more about the project.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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