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Council authorizes local option sales tax referendum

WORTHINGTON — The next local option sales tax will be on ballots this November.

The Worthington City Council on Monday called for a referendum for the half-percent sales tax, which, if approved, would replace the current half-percent sales tax set to expire by the end of September.

The city estimates the tax would collect $25 million over its 15-year period, allowing a $20 million bond for several projects the city hopes will make Worthington a better place to live. Those projects include:

  • Outdoor aquatic center and water park
  • Field house and recreation center
  • Park and recreation improvements, including a privately-operated lakeside restaurant and marina at Ehlers Park
  • Lake Okabena water quality improvements, including dredging Sunset Bay
  • Improvements to the 10th Street farmers market parking lot, including repaving, landscaping and public bathrooms
  • Improvements to the Worthington Ice Arena

If voters pass the referendum, it would go to the Minnesota Legislature for approval, then go into effect in 2020.

Mayor Mike Kuhle spoke highly of the list, thanking city council members for attending several work sessions and collecting input from community members to craft the project list.

“I think it’s a great list for improving our amenities, improving Worthington and making quality of life much better,” Kuhle said.

The sales tax is roughly the same as its predecessor, running 15 years instead of 10. It collects a maximum of $20 on a purchase and doesn’t apply to vehicles — that is a flat excise tax of $20.

In other news, the council:

  • Approved two Nobles Home Initiative applications, including two, two-unit duplexes at 873 and 877 Flower Lane, each 1,500 square feet, and one 1,359-square-foot single-family home in Six Fairway View.
  • Officially introduced Colin Meinders as the newest officer in the Worthington Police Department.
  • Adopted a new ordinance to allow brewpubs to operate in Worthington.
  • Adopted a resolution to appoint election judges for the Aug. 14 primary. The city is still looking for more election judges.