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St. Paul voters overwhelmingly approve sales tax increase for road repair, parks

Campaign 2023: Results of Minnesota’s biggest races
Campaign 2023: Results of Minnesota’s biggest races 02:59

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Voters in St. Paul on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a 1% sales tax increase to shore up for funding roads, bridges and parks and recreation facilities, according to unofficial results.

More than 60% of voters in the capital city said OK to a proposal that is estimated to generate $1 billion over 20 years for infrastructure improvements. It means the city will have a tax rate of 9.875%, the highest in the state.

Supporters of the measure warned without the hike, the financial burden would shift to property taxpayers who would see their bills climb to cover the costs. 

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They point to roads in disrepair needing significant investment, citing safety concerns. And they made the case that both residents and visitors alike should contribute to maintenance of the city's infrastructure through this surcharge since people travel from all over the state and use city roads and facilities. 

The increase comes as customers patronizing local businesses already are paying more when they shop because of an additional collective 1% increase imposed by the state legislature in the seven-county metro this year. The funds will support housing and transportation in the region.

The high sales tax rate worries opponents who fear it will drive consumers out of the city. Among those speaking out against the plan was the St. Paul Area Chamber, which surveyed its members and said 77% opposed the measure.

The group said it disagrees with using sales taxes to fund city operations and core functions of government, like infrastructure maintenance. It also characterized the proposal as regressive, impacting low-income people more significantly.

Clothes, groceries, and pharmaceutical drugs are exempt from sales taxes in the state. 

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