Bloomington needs to continue making investments in community amenities that bring residents together and enhance their quality of life. To do this, a local sales tax has been identified as a potential funding source for three major projects that support health, wellness, athletics and recreation in Bloomington.
The City of Bloomington received legislative authorization in May to allow voters to consider a half-cent local sales tax for up to 20 years that would finance $155 million for three projects. They include:
Nine Mile Creek Corridor renewal
Need: The City’s 2022 Natural Resources Prioritization and Management Strategies ranked Nine Mile Creek and Moir/Central Park as the highest priority for restoration.
Benefits: This major natural resource would be restored and year-round recreational opportunities would be increased.
Cost: $20 million.
Bloomington Ice Garden upgrade
Need: This popular facility needs modernization and major updates to mechanical systems, including refrigeration for all three ice sheets.
Benefits: The upgrade would improve guest experience and make it possible to continue ice rental and hosting dozens of tournaments and figure skating events annually.
Cost: $37.27 million. (The City has already received approval of $2.27 million from the State of Minnesota for
Public Health and Creekside Community Center building replacement
Need: These obsolete buildings do not meet the needs of the communities they serve.
Benefits: Combining them into one facility would provide a more effective environment to deliver vital health, fitness and recreational services as well as social activities.
Cost: $101.8 million. (The City has already received approval of $1.8 million from the State of Minnesota for predesign work.)
An independent analysis by the University of Minnesota estimates that 60% of the local sales tax revenue will come from nonresidents. By using a sales tax instead of a property tax to finance the projects, nonresidents would share in the cost of paying for them when they patronize local businesses.
If the projects were funded by a sales tax, it would require $105 in additional sales tax for each of Bloomington’s 42,000 households per year. If the projects were funded through property taxes, the tax increase for a median-value home would be about $230 per year.
If the sales tax referendum fails
If the sales tax is not approved, City leaders will explore other ways to invest in these projects. However, such improvements would occur more slowly and be smaller in scale and impact. Alternative funding sources may be more limited, and costs will likely be higher as the projects are spread out over many years.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 7. Early voting begins on Friday, September 22.