Rochester City Council Considers Extending Sales Tax to Fund DMC

Posted at: 10/21/2013 10:55 PM
Updated at: 10/21/2013 10:57 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Almost exactly one year ago, the Rochester city sales tax extension was passed by voters and now we're learning it could be extended again, but this time without referendum.

DMC legislation already passed will allow city and county leaders to extend or add the tax at their own discretion. The money would fund their portion of Destination Medical Center.

"I'm excited about the whole notion of Destination Medical Center, for Rochester it’s a big, big deal....well under the radar are the details of how you make that happen,"  said Fran Bradley.

"We've got to cover 128 million dollars, so how do you cover that in the least painful way for this tremendous growth and opportunity that we're going to have going forward? This is an option, I'm sure they're going to explore it well," said Jerry Williams.

Rochester City Council now gets to decide if extending the sales tax is their route for funding their portion of DMC.

"I would prefer that any sales tax, either a new one or extension, be a referendum but it’s not like they can hide it in the dark," said Bradley. He was opposed to the sales tax extension that was proposed last year and lead a charge against it. "Before the city jumps on the bandwagon to extend the sales tax, consider that there are other revenues that the city will be getting as a result of DMC," he said.

Jerry Williams was for that sales tax extension last year and says it may be a good option again. "This sales tax generates 40 to 50 percent of its revenue from people who visit our community, and that was one of the messages in the original sales tax renewal almost one year ago now," said Williams.

Though differing views on the sales tax, both agree council should keep the public informed. "We all have the right to pick up the phone, to stop by and see our councilmen and our mayor, and express our opinions," Bradley.

"I do hope they have a very open discussion in a public venue regarding that, but I trust our city council. I think they're going to make a good decision," said Williams.

Though city council has the right to extend the tax, we spoke with City Council President Randy Staver and he said they won’t be making any decisions on this anytime soon. However, we spoke with one of the Olmsted County Commissioners, and they already approved a sales tax as part of their funding for DMC.