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Letter: On Willmar's sales tax

On Nov. 2, 2004, our Willmar city-elected officials asked their citizens to approve a ½-cent sales tax, referred to as a local option sales tax.

The purpose of the funds raised from this tax was for (as per the ballot): $7 million, industrial park redevelopment/airport; $400,000, hiking and biking trails; $300,000, 60-acre Willmar Regional Treatment Center parcel; and $300,000, Civic Center/Blue Line Arena. This was a total of $8 million they were asking for.

You would assume that they were asking for $8 million or the right to collect the tax for seven years until they reach the $8 million and have enough funds to pay off any bonded indebtedness issued to finance the various projects.

No bonds were sold, so there is no indebtedness. The ballot did not say they could keep collecting for the full seven years even if the $8 million goal was reached earlier. They have exceeded their goal already in 2010.

As of June 30, 2010, they have spent $5,368,765.65 on the industrial park, $415,847 on hiking and biking trails (and two parking lots at Swansson Field), $1,071,840.86 on Civic Center and Blue Line connection and nothing on the land purchase as they could have bought it for $1 if wanted.

Is it fair for the city to continue collecting this extra tax for another two years from our residents and neighbors, whom we want to draw to Willmar for their shopping? Any extra funds could go into general fund. I think not!

Who can we trust if we can't trust our elected officials?

Wonder if city officials think they won't get another chance to have a local option sales tax so they will try to collect another $3 million to $4 million in the full seven years?

Please contact your council person and tell them enough is enough. If they wanted $12 million why didn't they ask for it? Surrounding communities, let Willmar know how you feel.

John Sullivan