MARSHALL - Many voters in Marshall know how they're going to vote on the local sales tax option in Marshall that will help fund the proposed $12.9 million regional amateur sports facility and MERIT Center expansion.
But there are also surely those who haven't picked which side of the fence they will fall on come Nov. 6. With that in mind, the Independent asked Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig to answer a few questions about the taxes and the facilities in hopes of answering some of those questions that are still lingering 10 days before Election Day:
Independent: About how many employees will it take to operate the new sports facility on an annual basis? Will these be full-time and part-time positions?
Martig: Included in the operational budget are two to three Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) with negotiations on full-time and part-time with contractual partners. We'd need to contract limited additional seasonal employee hours for the softball fields in conjunction with our parks maintenance staff. These are estimates only based on reviewing other facilities under our conceptual design phase. An updated and detailed pro forma would be created following the construction design phases of the project.
Independent: What amenities will be offered in the new facility (ice, fields)?
Martig: Indoor ice arena (two sheets), new four softball/junior baseball field complex in cloverleaf design.
Independent: What events, besides sports, could take place at the new facility?
Martig: The committee has researched the Hutchinson, New Ulm and Willmar facilities. Each of these have facilities have been utilized for art shows, expos, car shows, boat shows, garden shows and camping. Could be used for youth dance events, rollerskating, intramurals (SMSU and high school) as space is limited. Gym space is currently overscheduled, so this additional space would be available.
Independent: On the local sales tax option, what if I vote for one and not the other?
Martig: Each project will occur only if passed. If one of the two passes the sales taxes will be the same. However, the .5 percent sales tax would end sooner than the full 15-year term.
Independent: What if I just want to vote for the candidates and skip the vote on the local sales tax option?
Martig: Your ballot will still be accepted by the voting machine. Each referendum question requires a majority vote to pass of "yes" and "no" votes only.
Independent: If the local sales taxes pass, what will I pay on taxes for a new vehicle? What about a used vehicle or farm equipment?
Martig: The new local sales taxes do not apply to any of these. You'll pay the same as you do today.
Independent: Generally speaking, approximately what will these new taxes cost me per year? Will they expire?
Martig: According to estimates prepared by the Southwest Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, Marshall's median income households will pay an additional $75 annually for these improvements. As a reminder, studies also suggest that over 40 percent of the new taxes will be paid by non-residents. The .5 percent tax has a max of 15 years (related to bond repayment schedule for capital construction); the 1.5 percent tax has a max of 30 years (at council discretion to terminate earlier).
Independent: How will the proposed MERIT Center expansion benefit fire and police departments and emergency personnel?
Martig: The MERIT Center expansion will benefit fire and police through customized training through use of live training track, simulators, firearms range and classrooms. The MERIT Center is a Tier 2 facility that serves all of southwest Minnesota on public safety training so would serve all of those areas (see map on web site @ www.meritcenter.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=3 Local trucking/distribution companies will be using the MERIT facility for training.