ST. CLOUD -- Stearns County is considering whether to extend the transportation sales tax after it expires at the end of 2022.

The county currently gathers a 0.25% tax on purchases made within the county's borders to help pay for road construction projects.

County Engineer Jodi Teich says when the tax was first put into place, they anticipated raising $4.5-$5-million per year. But, she says they have been capturing well over $6-million every year so far.

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Teich says it is helping them get caught up on a backlog of projects...

We have been able to do a significant amount of additional construction with that. So, we're getting caught up on our pavements that were in really poor shape. I'm not saying we have them all in great shape, (so) we still have a significant amount of work to do. And, so yes, it has helped us get a significant amount of additional work done.

Teich says another option would be to increase the sales tax to 0.50% and use the extra money to cover the $2.2-million in tax levy dollars they currently receive every year.

The decision on whether to extend the transportation sales tax lies with the county board of commissioners. But, Teich says the first thing they need to do is go out and gather public input.

Starting in mid-January, the engineering department will be scheduling both live and virtual events to get public feedback. They'll bring that data back to the board in the spring for a public hearing.

The existing transportation sales tax went into effect on January 1st, 2018, and will expire on December 31st of 2022.


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