ROCHESTER – With little more than two months before a Nov. 7 special election, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce is endorsing a renewal of the city’s half-cent sales tax that would raise $205 million for four projects, including a $65 million regional recreation and sports complex.
The announcement of the chamber board's support for extending the sales tax was made in a press statement released Monday morning, Aug. 28, 2023.
The sales tax was first approved by Rochester city voters in 1982 for a major flood control project. It has been renewed three times, in 1992, 1998 and 2012 for a variety of public investment projects.
In addition to its endorsement, the chamber announced that it will be participating in two public information sessions in partnership with the city of Rochester to discuss the sales tax renewal.
“The renewal of the local sales tax will provide Rochester a funding tool that supports key investments in infrastructure, quality of life, and economic growth that can drive development in the community moving forward,” said Chamber President Ryan Parsons.
Supporters of renewing the sales tax point out that a large portion of it is paid by non-resident shoppers. University of Minnesota research estimates that 43% of the local sales is paid by non-residents.
In addition to a sports complex, the money raised would financially support three other project areas: street reconstruction ($50 million), a regional economic development fund ($50 million), $40 million for flood-control and water-quality projects.
The sales tax adds a penny to every $2 taxable sale. The current sales is set to expire at the end of 2024 when it is expected to reach its goal of raising $139.5 million set in 2012. It has paid for or helped pay for an array of projects, including the Career and Technical Education at Heintz (CTECH), the sports infrastructure at Rochester Community and Technical College, the growth of the University of Minnesota Rochester, airport improvements and road and trail expansion, and 125 Live senior center.
Additional information about Rochester’s local sales tax renewal can be found at renewrochester.org.