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Council seeks authority to ask voters for Bloomington sales tax

Authored on
Bloomington Briefing Published April 5, 2022
Updated on April 5, 2022
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Bloomington City Council passed a resolution in January asking the legislature for permission to put a new local sales tax on the ballot for residents to consider. The proposed Bloomington sales tax would be a 0.5% added tax charged on retail sales in the city. The revenue collected by the sales tax would be used to fund improvements to aging City facilities. This local sales tax would generate approximately $11 million each year over 20 years. The legislature has already held hearings about Bloomington’s sales tax proposal, and the bill is being held for possible inclusion in the omnibus tax bill.

It is estimated that 75% of a Bloomington sales tax would be paid for by visitors and 25% would be paid for by residents, according to an independent analysis by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality.

The new tax would only apply to items that are currently taxable, meaning that items such as clothes and staple groceries would not be taxed. Approximately 80 units of government in Minnesota currently have a local sales tax.

The legislature will consider the request during the 2022 legislative session. If the legislature approves Bloomington’s four requests, Bloomington voters will be asked to vote on each measure through four separate ballot questions, most likely during this November’s General Election. If approved by Bloomington voters, the sales tax would go into effect by the second quarter of 2023.

Facility improvements at a glance

Many of Bloomington’s most-used assets need significant investment or replacement. Four regionally significant projects have been identified that could be funded through a Bloomington sales tax (estimated costs do not include interest or financing costs):

  • Bloomington Ice Garden renovation including a new roof, a new refrigeration system, locker room improvements, and other guest service and ADA improvements: $32 million estimated cost.
  • A new community health and wellness center to replace the Public Health building and Creekside Community Center: $70 million estimated cost.
  • Dwan Golf Course improvements including total replacement of the clubhouse as well as golf course and bunker improvements and on-course restrooms : $15 million estimated cost.
  • Bloomington Center for the Arts expansion that would add a concert hall and Schneider Theater updates: $33 million estimated cost.

But because 75% of sales taxes are paid by people visiting Bloomington, using a sales tax to pay for these projects would lower the estimated cost to only about $72 per Bloomington household per year.

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