Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Sale tax funding makes impact on County road system


April 11, 2019

“The ½ % sales tax dedicated to County road upgrades has made a huge impact,” observed Assistant County Highway Engineer Milt Hagen at the Carlton County Committee of the Whole on April 2. “I have been working for the Carlton County Transportation Department for 28 years. There is more than five times more construction in the last four years than I saw in all the rest of the 24 years working here.”

Net revenue for dedicated road projects from the sales tax fund to date is $6,881,202.98. The record high was in 2017 with $2,019,090.05 tax revenue and the lowest, in a complete year of impact, was $1,687,429.09 in 2016. To date, roads throughout the county that have road numbers larger than 100 and are not eligible for State and Federal transportation funding have been targeted during this construction boom.

In further road news, the County and FDL Band have an agreement of understanding whereby a partnership between the two will make it possible to apply Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) dedicated monies for road improvements on county roads lying within Reservation land. Federal guidelines for protection of the wetlands and waters impacted have been adhered to for the county roadways being worked on and that policy will continue unchanged.

In other County news, Assessor Kyle Holmes wants County approval to encourage assessors that we train in our County Assessor’s Office to stay working for Carlton County. There is a severe shortage of trained assessors in Minnesota. Holmes would like to set up a seven year training program with new staff coming in as Appraiser Trainees, moving to Deputy Appraisers, and rising to a Senior Deputy Appraiser of which at this time Assessor Holmes is the only one that has these qualifications.

Holmes commented, “It is my hope that by investing in educating our assessors and having them work in Carlton County for a longer period of time that we can hold onto our trained staff.”

Planning continues to replace the jail in Carlton. Imposing a sales tax similar to the ½ % that funds county road projects is being considered. In order to impose this local sales tax option, certain steps must be taken:

1. County Board passes a resolution for the tax, the rate, the amount to be raised, and the expiration date.

2. The proposal must be approved by the majority of voters at a special election.

3. The political subdivision cannot expend money to advertise and promote the tax.

4. The State Legislature must pass a special law imposing the tax.

Commissioner Dick Brenner explained the County’s dilemma. “The Department of Corrections has been kind to us considering our jail is one of the oldest in the State at this time. They have not shut us down or reduced the number of beds we may have in our facility.”

Commissioner Tom Proulx observed, “We don’t know how much this building proposal will cost. Figures I have seen range from $24 – 26 million or more.”

County Auditor Paul Gassert interjected, “The process of considering to impose a sales tax for the jail stands by itself. It makes no difference on the possible cost within reason. The length of time for the sales tax will be determined by the cost of that facility and the interest rate our bonds come in at.”

“Hopefully other income will be found to help with the jail costs,” said Commissioner Gary Peterson. “I do know that Chisago County got special legislative money for their construction.”


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