Rochester City Council works to renew local option sales tax

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 7:08 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Rochester City Council wants to renew the city’s existing 0.5 percent sales tax.

This sales tax is known as the local option sales (LOS) tax, and it helps provide funding for several projects around the community.

The LOS tax has been in place since the 1980s and according to the City of Rochester. It was most recently renewed in 2012.

This tax is used to fund various projects in Rochester that help meet important needs of the community, state and region, like the flood control project, fire stations, among other things.

Rochester City Hall
Rochester City Hall(KTTC)

“For this renewal, we really focused on four key areas,” Development Service & Infrastructure Deputy City Administrator Cindy Steinhauser said.

“We focused on what we would put in the affordable living for quality services bucket, so flood control again, street reconstruction, affordable living/housing vitality, and then, of course, the regional rec center. It’s really important for us to understand that these dollars are critical for us to maintain infrastructure as Rochester continues to grow,” she said.

The 0.5 percent sales tax is put back into the Rochester community and is an alternative revenue source because it’s paid by everyone who buys goods at Rochester businesses.

“There are parameters that we have to operate within, so we really looked at what sort of projects we do need that really significant additional support and the sales tax is a really nice way to do it because it’s spread across, not only the community, but those who are visiting and spending within our community,” Rochester City Council President Brooke Carlson said.

“For visitors to our community, they are helping to pay into this fund,” Steinhauser said. “If we didn’t have that, we’d have to figure out how to replace it a different way and that comes across, in other communities, has typically fallen on property owners in their property tax.”

Looking towards downtown Rochester
Looking towards downtown Rochester(KTTC)

Rochester City Council is currently working with the state legislature to approve this set of projects that were developed by the city council.

“These are projects that will need to be approved by the legislature and then will go through an engagement process here locally to make sure that they are defined in a way that is meaningful for our community based on what we really need,” Carlson said.

Once approved by the state in the next month or two, voters will see these projects on their ballot in November and decided if any or all of them will be implemented.

Following the election in November is when the city will be looking for a lot of community input on these projects.

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