From street improvements and public works facilities to fire stations and ice arenas, local projects throughout Minnesota fared well at the ballot box Tuesday as voters authorized funding for $1.65 billion worth of construction.
Ten local governments — one county and nine cities — had projects on the ballot, and nine got the green light, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. The biggest hauls were in St. Paul, Rochester, Bloomington and Golden Valley, where voters approved a combined $1.5 billion for a variety of projects.
Going against the trend was the city of Mounds View, where residents rejected a proposed sales and use tax to expand a community center and create a regional amateur sports and recreation facility. The $16.5 million question failed by a 64.5% to 35.5% margin.
In St. Paul, voters authorized a 1% sales tax to generate nearly $1 billion over 20 years for streets, bridges and parks. The ballot question called for $738 million to “repair and improve” streets and bridges, and $246 million for parks and recreation facilities.
Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, said the local funding is a big plus for the city.
“We are always happy when there are more resources to invest in roads and bridges, because there is a huge need for that,” Donahoe said Wednesday. “More and more local units of government are turning to local sales tax to meet that need.”
Donahoe noted that the 2023 Legislature increased statewide funding for transportation, which is also a key revenue source.
“Obviously, there are smaller local governments that can’t generate much from a local sales tax. I think it’s important to have all those tools,” Donahoe said.
Local sales taxes will also pay for street improvements and other projects in Rochester.
In the Med City, voters agreed to extend an existing 0.5% sales tax to raise $205 million for street reconstruction ($50 million), an economic vitality fund ($50 million), flood control and water quality ($40 million) and a sports and recreation complex ($65 million).
The sports complex still requires site selection and acquisition and “further design refinement,” Jenna Bowman, strategic communications and engagement director for the city of Rochester, said in October. The city is working with LSE Architects and ISG on the sports complex design work.
In Bloomington, voters approved a 0.5% sales and use tax to pay for a new Community Health and Wellness Center ($100 million), Bloomington Ice Garden improvements ($35 million) and Nine Mile Creek Corridor upgrades ($20 million).
“You get to a point where things start to wear out and they need to either be rehabbed or replaced and Bloomington finds itself in that space,” Bloomington City Manager Jamie Verbrugge said in October. “Many of our buildings are 1960s and 1970s vintage. … All of those infrastructure projects are basically coming at roughly the same time.”
Golden Valley voters, for their part, signed off on a 1.25% sales and use tax to pay for a $105 million construction program. That includes land acquisition for public works ($15 million), a public works building ($45 million), and a police and fire headquarters ($45 million).
Also on Tuesday:
- Apple Valley voters approved a $66.75 million bond issuance for improvements to parks and trails, a community center, an events center, an aquatics facility and a youth baseball/softball complex, and more. In a second question, voters signed off on $6.5 million for a municipal swimming pool and related facilities at Redwood Park.
- Beltrami County residents overwhelmingly got behind a 0.625% sales tax for construction of a new $80 million county jail.
- In Edina, voters authorized the use of an existing local option sales tax to include a $31.7 million expansionof Braemar Arena, the second phase of a larger master plan for Braemar Park and Braemar Arena.
- Marshall voters agreed to extend a 0.5% sales and use tax to pay for a new $18.37 million aquatic center.