MARSHALL - Members of the Marshall City Council took a look at possible ballot questions for two proposed local sales taxes on Tuesday night. After council discussion and a 5-2 vote, the wording of two ballot questions was approved.
Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig explained the draft ballot questions to council members during their regular meeting. The draft questions had been revised, Martig said, to clarify what sales would be included under a proposed 1.5 percent food and beverage tax.
Martig said the council could not endorse any action regarding the proposed taxes - it could only approve the wording that goes on the ballot in November.
There were two proposed yes/no questions. The first asked whether the city of Marshall should impose a .5 percent sales and use tax, and a 1.5 percent tax on food and beverages intended for on-premises consumption, to pay for facilities at the Minnesota Emergency Response and Industrial Training (MERIT) Center in Marshall. The second asked whether the city of Marshall should impose a .5 percent sales and use tax, and a 1.5 percent tax on food and beverages intended for on-premises consumption, to pay for a regional amateur sports complex.
Martig said the local food and beverage tax would not apply to items the state doesn't tax.
"This isn't for food like in grocery stores," Martig said. "On-premises consumption" refers to prepared food and beverages, like those served in restaurants.
Martig said the local sales tax also wouldn't apply to sales of motor vehicles. However, he said, there would be a $20 excise tax on local vehicle sales if the questions pass.
"I'd like to have four votes," said council member Charlie Sanow. Sanow also asked if the taxes would be enough to fund the two projects, if applications for grants from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development were unsuccessful. quest for MERIT Center expansions were left off the Minnesota state bonding bill.
"Our full intent is that the sales taxes cover the full cost of the project," Martig said.
Council member Mike Boedigheimer said he favored keeping the two questions. The .5 percent tax and 1.5 percent tax were meant to work together, he said.
"I think tying them together makes the most sense," he said.
Council member Larry Doom said he thought having more than two questions on the ballot would be too confusing for voters.
The council passed the proposed ballot questions 5-2, with Sanow and Jennie Hulsizer casting the votes against.
The full language of the ballot questions is available through the city council's paperless meeting website, council.marshallmn.com.