Tribune Opinion: It’s time to ‘Invest In Willmar’ on Nov. 6
A West Cental Tribune Editorial City voters have an opportunity to "Invest in Willmar" by voting yes on the proposed local option sales tax question on Nov. 6. The proposed 0.5 percent local option sales tax would bring Willmar's sales tax rate to 7.
A West Cental Tribune Editorial
City voters have an opportunity to “Invest in Willmar” by voting yes on the proposed local option sales tax question on Nov. 6.
The proposed 0.5 percent local option sales tax would bring Willmar’s sales tax rate to 7.855 percent, which is comparable to other regional centers within Minnesota.
The proposed sales tax is a citizen-based, grassroots effort to provide appropriate funding for six community infrastructure projects. The goal would be to generate $30 million over 13 years for the following projects.
1) Recreation event center - $10 million total.
- Construct a new facility on the east/south side of the Willmar Civic Center for $8 million, including space for indoor tennis/pickle ball, additional space and event seating for 1,500, an indoor play area and additional kitchen space.
- A $2 million expansion on the north side of the Civic Center for additional locker rooms, offices and a covered outdoor ice rink.
2) Recreational multipurpose fields - $6 million total
- $2 million for girls softball field, youth baseball and soccer
- $1 million for recreational multipurpose turf field
- $3 million for recreational multipurpose turf field with lights and cover bubble for six months a year
3) Robbins Island Regional Park - $3 million total
- Construct and improve shelters, road and parking lots
4) Swansson Field upgrades - $2 million total
- Construct and improve concession stand, restrooms, stadium seating for the orange field, plaza shelter and playground area.
5) Stormwater funding - $7 million total
- Create a city master plan, replace older infrastructure on a regular basis and hire a consultant to work and coordinate directly with city staff
6) New community center - $2 million total
- Fund the planning and construction of a new community center within the city
These are all significant infrastructure needs within the city used by our residents and visitors to the city of Willmar. As a regional center, it is critical to invest in these projects for the benefit of all who use our city amenities.
The additional sales tax of 0.5 percent would apply to all eligible purchases made in the city of Willmar. The sales tax would not apply to clothing, groceries, health care, prescriptions, fuel, insurance or loans.
If approved, Willmar’s overall sales tax rate would become 7.875 percent, which is comparable to other regional centers including Bemidji, Brainerd, Fergus Falls, Mankato, Marshall and New Ulm. The Kandiyohi County communities of New London and Spicer also have a local optional sales tax.
Another advantage of this local option sales tax would be that revenue would be generated from residents and non-residents of the city. According to the Invest In Willmar group, at least 50 percent of the sales tax revenue would come from individuals who live outside of the town.
If the voters of Willmar approve the sales tax proposal, the tax question would then go to the state Legislature in 2019 for its consideration.
The proposed projects range from the critical stormwater needs to facility improvements across multiple areas. All the proposed projects meet a specific need within our community. The proposed projects will also draw visitors and their spending to the city.
To meet the identified needs, the necessary funding to make the investments is required. This plan spreads out the revenue generation between city residents and visitors to the city.
To learn more about the proposed projects, visit InvestInWillmar.com or visit the Invest In Willmar page on Facebook.
To grow, improve and strengthen our fair city, the West Central Tribune strongly recommends city voters vote yes on the sales tax question on Nov. 6.
The time is here and now to “Invest in Willmar.”
This editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune’s Editorial Board consisting of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.