Council feels constituents confused about proposed local option sales tax in Little Falls

City staff will not be able to visit groups to explain the tax before city residents vote on it in November

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

This rendering depicts a possible layout of the recreational complex envisioned on the 20-plus acres donated to Little Falls by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, located in the north portion of the city, near Edmund Street. A playground has already been constructed on the site, thanks to donations, and eventually, the plan is to construct a splash pad, all-wheel skate park, community center, baseball diamonds, parking, a picnic area and more. Little Falls city residents will vote Nov. 4 on the question of whether the city should impose a local option sales tax to pay for the project.
This rendering depicts a possible layout of the recreational complex envisioned on the 20-plus acres donated to Little Falls by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, located in the north portion of the city, near Edmund Street. A playground has already been constructed on the site, thanks to donations, and eventually, the plan is to construct a splash pad, all-wheel skate park, community center, baseball diamonds, parking, a picnic area and more. Little Falls city residents will vote Nov. 4 on the question of whether the city should impose a local option sales tax to pay for the project.

The Little Falls City Council feels residents are confused about the proposed one-half of 1 percent local option sales tax — an option residents will vote for or against on the November ballot.

City Administrator Dan Vogt asked the Council Monday night, whether it wanted city staff to provide the presentations as a way to educate the public.

But, to avoid perception that the city is promoting it or funding it (which it is not allowed to do), the Council voted not to allow city staff to address clubs and organizations about the tax.

The sales tax, imposed on everything that is currently taxable in Minnesota, would be used for constructing the Little Falls Area Recreational Complex, in north Little Falls, near the Living Hope Church, on 22 acres of land donated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The tax would be in effect for a 12-year period.

The idea to implement a local option sales tax was first presented to the Council in October 2013 by Adam Fjeld, a resident of Little Falls. Bob Reinitz, a proponent of the Camp Ripley/Veterans State Trail, also addressed the Council that evening, saying the tax could help fund bringing that trail through the city as well.

Fjeld said he hadn’t sought any permission and didn’t present the information on behalf of any committee. “I was just a citizen looking for ways to pay for the recreational complex — the whole shebang,” he said. At that time, he said, he wasn’t a part of the Little Falls Area Recreational Complex Committee and he had asked several people to talk about what the tax could be used for, including Reinitz.

Fjeld had called St. Cloud and asked how the city funded some of its recreational areas and learned it was through a local option sales tax in the city.

“That way, not just residents pay for it — but everyone who comes into town,” said Fjeld. And getting people to town with such an attraction is a goal as well.

A rendering with cost estimates for the project was done in November 2013. It included the playground (which has since been completed), paving and utility extension, splash pad/all-wheel park, basketball courts, three baseball diamonds, restrooms, a community building, trail within the complex and the community and property acquisition which is now estimated at just under $7.9 million.

Some of the property part of the baseball diamonds and parking lot sit on in the rendering, does not belong to the city. To complete the project as planned, property would have to be acquired.

In July, the Little Falls City Council approved sending the question to the voters on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot — the first step in implementing such a tax.

When the Council approved the wording on the question, City Attorney Toni Wetzel cautioned them to include all the items the tax may pay for — excluding any one item would mean no part of it could be paid for using proceeds from the tax — such as the splash pad. Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem has said in the past, and reiterated Monday night, that funds would be raised for the splash pad so no taxpayer dollars would be used. She said in July, that the plan was to have the splash pad funded before the tax might go into effect.

The wording approved by the Council for the question to be included on the ballot for Little Falls residents says:

“Shall the Little Falls City Council impose by Ordinance, a sales and use tax of one-half of 1 percent (1/2%) for the purpose of paying capital costs for the construction of the Little Falls Area Recreational Complex including, but not limited to, property acquisition, restrooms, picnic shelters, community facility, ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, all wheel park, splash pad, access roadways, utilities and parking lots, as well as hiking and biking trails within the Complex and throughout the community?”

If, and only if, a majority of voters in the city of Little Falls choose to implement the local option sales tax, the Legislature will take up the matter. It must be approved by the Legislature before the tax can be implemented.

If the Legislature approves the tax, the Council will also have to draft an ordinance and approve the sales tax. It won’t go into effect until the quarter after Legislative approval — probably not until October 2015.

A local option sales tax is used by cities to fund “regionally” significant items, but cannot be used for road and infrastructure improvements.

Vogt, who had been willing to go to club and organization meetings to educate the public about the tax, had a few examples of the impact of the tax.

If the tax is approved by the voters and the Legislature, anyone shopping in Little Falls would pay the one-half of 1 percent (1/2%) on items and services subject to state sales tax — or 10 cents more on a $20 purchase, $1 on a $200 purchase, $10 on a $2,000 purchase.

The tax would not be paid on clothing, food or other items not currently taxed.

The state collects the local option sales tax, as it does other sales tax, and sends it to the city. The money generated by the local option sales tax will be held in a fund and can be used only for those items listed in the ballot question. It may not be used for maintenance, which was estimated at about $30,000 per year.

However, the City Council can choose, from that list, which items to move forward with. It may also choose to bond for the entire project and make the bond payments using the monies collected from the tax each year.

If the project is completed for less than the proposed $7.9 million and paid for sooner than the expected 12-year life of the tax, the tax will end at that point.

If the project isn’t completed in the 12-year time frame, the Council at that time may once again take it to the voters for an extension of the local option sales tax.

 

  • robin hensel

    Two corrections needed….the LFARC COMPLEX is to be located nearest the Living Hope Assembly of God…..and Adam Fjeld was the president of the official city YOUTH TASK FORCE COMMITTEE when he made his plea/presentation to council in 2013….basically doing ILLEGAL FUNDRAISING IN VIOLATION OF THE STATE AUDITORS OFFICE regulations.

    • Rick Witte

      Robin, it seems you and your road partner, back from her rural origins, want to confuse things more than they need be. For me to believe that Mr. Fjeld was engaged in illegal fundraising, as you suggest, because he brought a funding idea to the Council I would also have to believe that the Council was also engaged in illegal fundraising by passing a referendum and asking the voters to pass it.

      Yes you always seem to amaze.

      • robin hensel

        Rick Witte….the State Auditors rules state that government entities and committees CANNOT SOLICIT FUNDS OR FUNDRAISE. What part of that is hard to understand. And in response to your last sentence….the city HAS been illegally fundraising and soliciting donations for years. I hope you get that now.

        • Rick Witte

          Perhaps, Robin, if you could please pay attention, and stay on topic, I was addressing the matter of passing the referendum, and using your logic, the equaling of their action with that of “illegal fundraising”.

          In your continual quest to make 2+2 equal 5 you overlook the matter of the gentleman not soliciting or raising funds, but rather broaching an idea with the Council. A means of financing the recreation area. With your animus towards anything that the City might do you seem to leave your comprehension skills behind.

          • robin hensel

            Rick…..I beg to differ with you. Laws never should be side stepped in order to accomplish goals. Laws are to be obeyed. That’s my point. The entire area is riddled with government, non-profits and civic organizations that think nothing of skimming the cream for themselves. This is not the American way. This is not ethical. Period. You seem to fit right in with these types. I do not. I was raised better.

          • Rick Witte

            Putting your rhetoric aside it is clear that you seem to see evil in anything the City seeks to do. I could imagine you could wrap such rhetorical verse around any action that might come about.

            We seem to differ slightly on the matter of a committee member broaching an idea with the Council as constituting “illegal fundraising”. In this I cannot bring myself to subscribe to your notion nor would I see your position on the matter as a valid one. You are certainly entitled to your opinion no matter how wrongheaded it may be.

          • tlehrke

            approved

          • robin hensel

            Tell me Rick Witte why you think the city has been told it cannot solicit donations or fundraise? Do you think the city is concerned on its own ? Do you think the city just woke up one day and realized they had bent the rules just a little too far this time and they should self correct? Or is it more likely they got caught with their pants down? Come on Rick….how naive can you be?

          • Rick Witte

            Robin please keep on track and pay attention. We were discussing whether or not Mr. Ffeld’s broaching the idea of funding through the Local Option Sales Tax constituted illegal fundraising as you purport it to be. It seems you have nothing substantive to back that up other than your animus.

  • Erik Warner

    I’m not confused, I just don’t like the idea. In the operations of our business we have options for purchasing supplies here in Little Falls and in neighboring communities. Many of the out of town suppliers are already cheaper for us and now you want to tack on another local expense? What this does is give us even more incentive to shop out of town for our business needs. Plus, while we’re out of town anyway, we can save a few bucks on things we need at home.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not entirely opposed to a local option sales tax. I just don’t think this is a good use of that mechanism. Since cities like Brainerd and St. Cloud have amenities like splash pads (I think St. Cloud has 3) and water parks, skate parks (St. Clouds is pretty impressive), ball fields, dog parks, etc. I’m not sure how this will bring people to town. Who would drive right by the bigger, better, faster, more parks of St. Cloud to visit ours?

    Also….a use tax? Maybe THIS is where I am confused. Now the city wants us to pay tax at the local level for purchases we make with out of state vendors?

    • HeeHee

      Erik, although I respect your comments I think you are totally off base, especially if I understand you correctly as a business owner. First, the area of this complex is located in a part of the city that has no current parks. I don’t believe the just completed Twitchell playground is considered a park. It provides a park in an area of the city that has none as well as an alternative solution to funding other than the city bonding for the money.

      Secondly, although items may be cheaper out of town, how do you think a local community survives? Who pays the property taxes, funds numerous charitable events in towns, supports community activities? The LOCAL businesses do! If you own a local business I can’t believe you aren’t aware of the numerous solicitations that businesses receive throughout the year. Do your “out of town” vendors support these local events? I doubt they do. You may pay more for local goods and services but it stays local through these type of events.

      Finally, if you are not sure how this complex would bring people to town then I think you are confused. Anyone who has children involved in any activities knows about the various trips to baseball tournaments, splash pads, water parks, etc that are located in other towns. They spend money on hotels, buy gas, buy fastfood, etc. How about the Camp Ripley/Veterans State Trail? You don’t think that would be a draw. Have you ever rode your bike on the Soo Line Trail and stopped at Jordies in Bowlus? Why not have them spend their money in Little Falls Not everyone is interested in going to St. Cloud and / or Brainerd. Again, as a business owner, why would you want to make Little Falls a “drive by” town instead of a destination place?
      In the words of Robin Hensel: “WAKE UP COMMUNITY!”

      • J. SKI

        HeeHee…HaHa

        First, this “complex” will not draw people to Little Falls because it’s location was not selected for the benefit of out-of-towners…it’s not accessible from the main highway system. The playground was built for the mayor’s elite groups of relatives/friends children/great-grandchildren. I’m sure that the mayor would be upset if children were bused to that playground from other parts of the city to the “The Mayor’s Playground”. Where’s are the playgrounds for the kids living on the south end of town? Where’s are the playgrounds for the children living on the west side of town? Probably on school property, just like it was when I grew up here. Pine Grove Park had playground equipment then but the mosquitos were bad…they still are.

        The second part of this is the cost to the “buyers” of products in Little Falls. Has anyone “done the math”? Based on a .05% sales tax, Little Falls would have to sell $1,316,666,000 worth of taxable merchandise/goods/etc. every year for 12 years! That’s 1.316 billion dollars for 12 years! Not going to happen. I know a lot of people who bypass Little Falls to shop in Brainerd or St. Cloud because the prices in Little Falls are generally 10% higher. Do you think that they will stop for a “recreational complex”? This has been this way for the past 50 years. Little Falls hasn’t grown like other cities because merchants here didn’t want competition. Anyone wanting to start a business here, other than someone who already was living here with relatives or friends who had a business, were “shut out”. When the “bypass” was built around the east side of the city, opportunities opened up for new businesses but the merchants in the heart of the city opposed them. There are few business survivors on the west side partly due to the bypass. Some survived due to loyalty of customers.

        I would urge all who read this to take the drive to “The Mayors’ Playground” and see if it’s going to be worth paying an additional .05% sales tax on taxable merchandise…that will add $1000 to the price of a $20,000 car bought in Little Falls, or $50 for each $1000. I urge you to vote on election day, Nov 4th, and vote “NO” to the .05% sales tax addition. If you read the “fine print” on that ballot, it states, in part, “for the purpose of paying capital costs for the construction of the Little Falls Area Recreational Complex including, but not limited to,”…it’s the “but not limited to” that will change the price tag as well as allow the city to do anything they want to with the money…to coin a phrase… “WAKE UP COMMUNITY!”

        • Erik Warner

          “I’m sure that the mayor would be upset if children were bused to that playground from other parts of the city to the “The Mayor’s Playground”. ”

          I can’t speak for Mayor VanRisseghem but your comment does bring something to mind. If my memory serves me, a few years ago a developer had proposed some sort of mixed income housing out in that area and some of the residents there opposed it, one of them saying in a meeting that she did not want her neighborhood “infested” with certain types of kids. I suspect this facility would draw all manner of unsavory folks out there, huh? 😉

        • HeeHee

          J. Ski
          I don’t quite understand how it is not accessible. It is located on what used to be “old” Highway 371 and runs adjacent to the current Hwy 371. I would also ask you to provide another location in town, with that size tract of land, that you could purchase for $1 as the city did. You and other detractors are so wrapped up in painting this as a political issue or as you say “The Mayor’s Playground” that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your argument.
          You obviously mst not get around town much if you are asking where the parks are on the south and west side of town. Have you seen what the Westside Improvement Association has done with the park on the west side? New play ground equipment, a pavilion, a hockey rink, and improved ball fields. By the way, that isn’t on school property. I’m also sure there are mosquitos there but that doesn’t seem to stop the residents from utilizing it. You should go there any weekday during the summer and see the “OUT OF TOWN” softball teams playing in the leagues that are run there. They seemed to find the location of it and the mosquitos don’t keep them away either.
          This town has not grown because of attitudes of life long residents like yourself. It is so convenient to blame the merchants or anyone else who doesn’t subscribe to your ideals. The attitude of “it was good enough for me so it should be good enough for the future generations” is like a cancer in this town. Doesn’t it strike you strange that we still have dirt roads within the city limits? How many opportunites has this town had to grow and couldn’t seem to get it done. Ask around about the Technical College that is located in Brainerd that wanted to locate here. Or, was that the “Mayor’s College” during that time?
          Finally, before you ask if anyone has checked the math, maybe you should check your own. The article seemed to do a fine job of laying it out but maybe you didn’t actually read the article. Your numbers reflect a 5% sales tax not a 1/2% sales tax that is being asked for. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your argument. If you do, you won’t have anything to argue about.

          • J. SKI

            Let me rephrase my statement on the access to the “complex”…there is no DIRECT access from Hwy 371 or Hwy 10 to get on Edmund Street, which would be the best access to the “complex”. Someone going north on Hwy 371 has to pass the “complex” and use 183rd Street and go back to Edmund, about an extra mile. Anyone using the Hwy 10 exit to get onto Haven Rd. would have to know how to use that poorly designed, poorly marked interchange near the bowling alley.

            Thank you for “doing the math”…I discovered my error after my computer decided on its’ own to post my comments without my being able to even check the math or spelling. Here are my correct figures:
            For a tax rate of one half of one percent, the $7,900,000 for 12 years equates to $658,300+ per year. The amount of yearly taxable items would have to be apx. $131,666,000 per year or $1,579,992,000 for 12 years in taxable items. One and one-half BILLION in taxable items! That is even higher than my previous figures, and as these figures are rounded figures, the actual figures are somewhat higher.
            Based on the population of 2012, that would mean that every man, woman, and child living in the city of Little Falls would have to contribute $80 per year in additional sales tax, and considering that about 23% are living at or below the poverty level, that’s a lot to expect from people who probably won’t be using it anyway. On $35,000 boat, an additional $175 in sales tax. On a $100,000 house, $500. You would have to sell a lot of big-ticket items to generate $658,300+ in tax revenue every year for 12 years.

            Where else could this “complex” be built? First of all, it doesn’t have to be a “complex”. According to the meeting notes of the “Mayor’s Youth Task Force” dated Aug 25, 2010, states that “Dustin reported that ideally the skate park would be located in LeBourget Park, along with the splash pad.” It also states “Gabrielle reported…The area could include a splash pad, benches, picnic tables, bathrooms and a concessions area. Locations in Little Falls include LeBourget Park and Pine Tree Park.” Whatever happened to those ideas?
            There’s a lot of land owned by the City of Little Falls throughout the city. Examples: An entire block just east of St. Mary’s Church/School. A half a block at 510 5TH ST NE, another half a block at 201 4TH ST NE, also 26 BROADWAY AVE E. and the sloped land behind it. On the west side: A whole block at 901 2ND AVE SW. Even the “Chief Hole In the Day Addition” land has better access. It’s also much closer to shopping and food, where people spend money. The city knows what property they own…why don’t they utilize what they already have?

            Why do you think it’s necessary to pave all the roads in the city? Why does the mayor/city council decide to tear down buildings in favor of paved parking lots?…refer to “Dewey-Radke” and the “Boys & Girls Club” buildings. Didn’t you hear…everytime a road gets blacktopped, it’s contributing to global warming?

            As far as the West Side “complex”, the Westside Improvement Association must be a secret society because I couldn’t find any articles in the Morrison County Record, either current news or archives, in connection with any playground or park…only one article on putting up a school crossing light on 6th and Broadway West and another that indicated that the land that it’s on was donated in 1973. Apparently, that “complex” was built without taxpayer money.

            You are also correct when you say that I don’t get out much. When I do go out, it’s for something that’s needed…not something that’s just wanted. The mayor wants the “complex” but it’s not needed.

      • Erik Warner

        All this proposed park does is copy what other communities are already doing but on a smaller scale. It is, in my estimation, not a draw. If we want to make LF a destination place we need to offer something that our neighbors are not already offering. You brought up baseball tournaments etc. Sure, people come here for an occasional tournament and they spend money but, then again, our families go to some other town for a tournament and spend money there so I figure that’s pretty much a wash.

        I would like to see the results of the economic impact study that verifies that this will bring people here and will generate revenue. If it shows that the park will bring in the visitors and the $$ I might support the idea.

        To your questions…who pays the taxes? Well, in part, I do. Who supports charitable causes? I do. Who supports activities? I do. But all those things take $$$ and the more I pay in taxes for something that is a want and not a need the less $$$ I have to contribute.

        • HeeHee

          So because it is on a smaller scale it isn’t worth it? I disagree. How about the money our local teams make for hosting a tournament? How about not going to another town to play but staying right here in town? It is not a wash in my opinion.
          Although I don’t want to discount your contribution to charitable events, the majority of the money raised for these events is not from individual contributors like yourself but from businesses. By hosting a tournament, selling concessions, etc at this complex to raise money, maybe a baseball team doesn’t have to ask a business for a donation. Can’t you see how it comes full circle?

          • Erik Warner

            Why is this park needed?

          • HeeHee

            Really? As I mentioned in an earlier statement, it puts a park in a part of the city that has none. But if I use the logic I think you are getting at than why should we have more than one school? More than one fire department?
            I am more interested to have you tell me why it isn’t needed.

          • Erik Warner

            The Little Falls city web site includes Belle Prairie Park as one of its parks. Belle Prairie has playground equipment, space for playing ball, a disc golf course, a shelter, and some nice places to walk. The school soccer fields are in that part of town and Grace Covenant Church has a nice little park behind it. There are parks in that part of the city.

            I am not entirely opposed to the city adding another park in that part of town but make it like the ones in other parts of town. Pine Tree (what we always called North End) has a simple ball filed with a simple back stop. Put one of those out in the proposed park. The proposal pushing $8 million is unreasonable.

            Using the logic I think you are using, if the Belle Prairie part of town gets a splash pad then every other part of town should get one too. No?

          • J. SKI

            What the mayor “wants” is not a park. It’s being called a “recreational complex”. Parks and playgrounds are a “want” item, whereas schools and fire departments are a “need” item, mostly based on population.
            She should be satisfied with the playground that now exists because if she gets what she “wants”, that neighborhood is going to get very noisy in the next 12 years.

    • Rick Witte

      Perhaps I missed it Erik, but I fail to find any mention of the City wanting to require you to pay sales tax on items purchased from out of State vendors.

      As a point of information the State already requires you to do this. I dont think they actively enforce this measure, but there are ways in which they could. They could contact Amazon or ebay, or any other major internet retailer and garner the info on Minnesota consumers. Using this info they could certainly send you a bill.

      • Erik Warner

        The ordinance, as worded in the article, includes “use tax”. That is one of my concerns.

        • Rick Witte

          If I remember correctly that is what the State Sales Tax is called. Again, the City has no authourity to collect, or be remitted by the State, anything other than what the State would normally collect.

          • Erik Warner

            Use tax is similar to sales tax but not. If I buy something from a vendor in another state where my purchase may not be subject to tax, MN will charge me a tax for bringing my purchase into MN for use. The wording of the ordinance suggests that there will be .05% added to that use tax for Little Falls. That concerns me. If “the City has no authourity to collect, or be remitted by the State, anything other than what the State would normally collect” then why is use tax included in the ordinance? It should just be a local option sales tax.

          • Rick Witte

            Erik, if you Google Minnesota’s Sales Tax you will find that its official name is that of Sales and Use Tax. Minnesota, by law, already requires you to remit the tax on purchases made out of State on items to be used within the State. This is nothing new. I no of no one that has voluntarily remtted the tax to the State nor have I heard of any active enforcement within the State. Very difficult to accomplish. The City named their Local Option Sales Tax the way it is because that is what it is officially called.

            Again Cities with Local Option Sales Taxes have not part to play in the collection process nor do they have any authourity to collect any such “Use Tax”. That would be entirely up to the State, but it would be very difficult to enforce. Merchants collect the tax at the point of sale and remit it to the State who then remits the Cities portion to the City.

            Wadena County is not the only County to have the Transit Sales and Use Tax. There are 4 or 5 others currently. Interestingly enough Counties do not have to go through the referendum process Cities do to bring about such a tax.

            Here is a website explaining Minnesota’s Use Tax

            http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/businesses/sut/factsheets/FS156.pdf

          • Erik Warner

            I very well may misunderstand the matter but I want to be sure. In addition to this question I have others. I think that is the point Steve Wenzel was trying to make in his letter; that there has been no time for public dialogue about this. It seems there have been no opportunities for people to have their concerns addressed. I don’t feel that is a prudent way to advance the park idea. At this point I will be voting no. I might change my mind if someone can provide compelling evidence that this is a great idea but so far I have not seen it.

          • Rick Witte

            From what I garner out of Mr. Wenzel’s editorial it seems apparent that he takes issue with the City not holding Public Hearings prior to passing the referendum. The Local Option Sales Tax was passed in 97 and if Mr. Wenzel was a legislator at that time he should have moved to have this requirement incorporated into the enabling legislation. It apparently did not bother him at the time nor did he see it as necessary.

            It is my opinion that the City is shooting themselves in the foot by not holding public forums or educational sessions for groups to explain the tax. Perhaps they are squeamish because of the neverending threats of lawsuits, even if someone passes gas at a Council meeting.

            I believe them to be misreading the law. I stole the following from a State publication explaining the tax:

            “In 2013, the provision was loosened to allow a political subdivision to also spend money to provide the public with certain facts about the proposed tax and to host public forums on the issue, provided proponents and opponents were given equal time to speak.
            Minn. Stat. § 297A.99, subd. 1, para. (d). ”

            I believe that the Council should revisit the matter and allow the City Administrator to address groups and to hold public forums.

          • Erik Warner

            Here’s an example of what a I’m talking about. Wadena County has a 0.5% transit sales and use tax. Here is wording from the MN Dept. of Revenue site for that.

            “This tax applies to retail sales made within Wadena County. The use tax applies to taxable items used in the county if the local sales tax was not paid.”

            My take is that if I buy something from an out of state vendor I owe the use tax. That the ordinance is worded to increase the use tax by that half percent shows, in my estimation, one of two things; that the city has the authority to levy and collect this tax or those who wrote the ordinance don’t know what they are talking about.

            I will gladly admit I am wrong if someone can demonstrate otherwise.

            On another taxation matter, if property values are determined, in part, by proximity to amenities such as parks, and property taxes are based on value, will there be property tax implications for those living nearest the park? Will their property values and taxes go up? While I’d guess many would not want their taxes to increase I’d also guess they’d be glad to have everyone else in town improve their equity position by building a nice new park in their back yard.

    • Rick Witte

      In addition, Erik, the City has no authourity to collect sales tax on out of State purchases as they do not collect the tax directly; the State does this through local merchants.

      Interestingly enough it appears in todays paper that Amazon, in opening an in State location will begin collecting Minnesota Sales Tax beginning in October. Since they will now have an in State presence State Law mandates they collect the tax.

  • J. SKI

    “Council feels constituents confused about proposed local option sales tax in Little Falls”

    I think that the confusion is coming directly from the mayor. And, of course, Terry Lehrke, who reports only what the mayor wants reported. I can see why the constituents are confused because the statement from the article is “Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem has said in the past, and reiterated Monday night, that funds would be raised for the splash pad so no taxpayer dollars would be used. She said in July, that the plan was to have the splash pad funded before the tax might go into effect.” … Notice that there is no mention of the skate park.

    In the Morrison County Record dated September 28, 2014, Section B, Page 4, the mayor placed a campaign ad that states “I will continue to be a strong advocate for area youth by developing Safe Routes to School, building a Splash Pad and Skate Park without tax dollars and supporting the Boys and Girls Club.”

    According to this same newspaper, Section 1, Page 5, the Safe Routes to School is just in the planning stage with scheduled meeting planned. The entire article does not include the mayor’s name or say that she will have any involvement. How can she include that in her ad campaign when the public is just told of a “kickoff meeting” in the same newspaper?

    The fact that the mayor wants to tear down a perfectly good building, (the donated Simonet’s Funeral Home – former Boys and Girs Club), that some person would be proud to own and who would pay property tax, to build a parking lot that does not generate ANY tax revenue, is irresponsible.

    The statement “building a Splash Pad and Skate Park without tax dollars” is in opposition to what the wording of the question on the voting ballot states, and includes the words “including, but not limited to,” and “splash pad”. This conflict of words alone should make anyone voting on Nov 4th to say “NO” to the “Mayor’s tax” and “The Mayor’s Playground”.

    • Rick Witte

      J. SKI, to obtain the grant for the Safe Routes to School the City had to first write a grant request and have that request granted. Of course the City will be involved as there will certainly be some construction or upgrading of sidewalks on these determined routes. Are you of the opinion that these routes will come about with absolutely no involvement of the City. While the kickoff meetings were just published that does not come about without there first being some preliminary planning.

      As to the Splash Pad and Skate Park perhaps it still remains her goal to have these come about without tax dollars. Maybe this will happen maybe it wont but it seems apparent that the Mayour retains that as a goal.