MARSHALL - Voters in Marshall had their say Tuesday on a local sales tax option that will help pay for a $12.9 million regional amateur sports complex and expansion at the MERIT Training Center, and showed their support in strong numbers.
A .5 percent local sales tax and a 1.5 percent hospitality (food, beverage, lodging) tax both passed Tuesday night.
Question 1 on the ballot - funding for MERIT Center expansion - passed with 3,636 yes votes to 2,417 no votes, while Question 2 - funding for the regional amateur sports facility - passed with 3,747 yes votes to 2,359 no votes.
"We really appreciate the team that came together to work on this," said Roger Madison, co-chairman of the Southwest Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. "It was a great collaboration of the MERIT Center people, the amateur sports people and the arts groups that helped us. It took a whole team to give us that overwhelming support."
The local sales tax does not apply to sales of motor vehicles. The hospitality tax would apply to lodging and gross receipts of food and beverages sold on the premises by restaurants and places of refreshment in the city of Marshall. Groceries bought for cooking are not included in the tax.
Proponents of the sales tax option said MERIT Center expansion will benefit fire and police through customized training through use of a live training track, simulators, firearms range and classrooms.
The MERIT Center is a Tier 2 facility that serves all of southwest Minnesota. Supporters also said a new regional amateur sports facility will be a major draw to Marshall and will be a key in igniting economic growth. The facility will have two sheets of ice in an indoor ice arena and a four-field softball and junior baseball complex in cloverleaf design.
The operational budget for the sports facility includes two to three Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) with negotiations on full-time and part-time with contractual partners.
In September, the Marshall City Council voted to approve an agreement with the Schwan Food Co. to donate land for the sports center at the intersection of Minnesota highways 23 and 19.
The donated land will include 12.3 acres of land for the sports center and a 3.9-acre parcel that includes a stormwater retention pond.