In the past two years almost $11.5 million has been collected in the local option sales tax revenue for road improvement projects in Crow Wing County.
The half-cent local option sales tax was implemented on April 1, 2016. As of April 1, 2018, the revenue that has been brought in represents a 34 percent increase over what was projected at the time of approval. The 0.5 percent sales tax delivered over 21 extra miles of roadway construction and nearly 200 extra miles of crack sealing and other surface maintenance treatments.
"This new revenue source has provided a tremendous boost to our ability to make more timely and longer lasting roadway improvements," Crow Wing County Highway Engineer Tim Bray said in a news release. "The county road and bridge property tax levy was permanently reduced by $1.2 million to help lessen the impact of the local option sales tax to Crow Wing County residents."
Prior to approval in December 2015, an economic study revealed 50 percent of the projected revenue would be generated by guests visiting Crow Wing County. The county board of commissioners joined a growing number of greater Minnesota counties approving a sales tax. In 2013 the state legislature gave counties the authority to collect local taxes for transportation needs without a voter referendum.
"The ability to effectively raise revenue through local option sales tax has been beneficial for everyone that utilizes Crow Wing County roads. The fact that it is exceeding expectations is also a win for our economy," Board Chairman Paul Thiede said.
In the next five years Crow Wing County intends to deliver more than 175 miles of roadway improvements. Almost half of these miles are expected to be funded with local option sales tax revenue. With the addition of the sales tax, Crow Wing County highway staff will be able to improve about 85 more miles of roadways than they would have otherwise.
The complete 2018-22 Highway Improvement Plan can be accessed at www.crowwing.us.