Brainerd Baxter to Vote on Sale Tax Extension
To continue an existing half percent sale tax or to find funding for a couple of local projects from elsewhere. That’s the decision voters in the cities of Brainerd and Baxter will have when they enter the polls Tuesday.
In 2004 and 2006 voters agreed to adding a half percent sales tax to help fund local infrastructure needs. The cities say Baxter is on pace to meet their goal to payoff their projects by 2016 while Brainerd is expected to owe more money after their deadline passes in 2019. The cities say Baxter’s growing retail sector is while they’re so much ahead of Brainerd.
The biggest concern the Brainerd Lakes business community has is making sure both community vote the same way so there wouldn’t be an unfair advantage in sales tax.
Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Kilian says, “If voters exercise their right to check the no box, what we might have here in the Brainerd and Baxter areas is would be higher taxes and higher utility fees that we as residents and businesses would have to pay in order to fund these same projects.”
If the tax is voted to continue Brainerd would continue to use the half percent sales tax to pay off their infrastructure project from 10 years ago and Baxter will use it to fund new roads and sewer projects.
Kilian says, “Typically when you see cities that have half percent sales taxes they fund luxury items like community centers and libraries and other recreational amenities. In Brainerd and Baxter that’s not what this is about. This is about infrastructure and transportation and water and sewer needs. That just come with the territory of growing as a community the way that we are.”
If the tax is voted against Brainerd and Baxter will have to look for new ways to fund these projects like increase property taxes and utilities. That is why you will see “You are voting for a property tax increase” on the ballot.
Baxter estimates the half sales tax will cost the average household about $84 a year. However if the tax is not approved it could cost median value residence about $352 in property taxes.
Brainerd says if the tax isn’t approved the could increase their wastewater service fees by more than 200% costing customers to pay $15 more dollars a month and businesses to by $23 more dollars a month.
Both cities hope the sale tax gets passed so the cities pass the costs to more tourists and lessen the expense on the residents. On the campaign trail Scott Sheahen Lakeland News.