ELK RIVER -- Sherburne County commissioners have authorized a local option sales tax of 1/2% to help pay for transportation projects. They join a growing list of counties either considering or having approved the sales tax to pay for a shortfall in state funding.

County Administrator Steve Taylor says they've identified more than $200-million worth of unfunded transportation projects over the next 20 years and this is a way to help chip away at that...

There really hasn't been a good transportation funding program from the state that involves stable funding for counties and cities, so we thought we would take advantage of this and get some of these projects done.

Sherburne County currently collects a $10 "wheelage tax" when drivers go to renew their license tabs.  But, Taylor says that only collects about $750,000 per year.

Taylor says for a county that is growing as fast as theirs, road construction has to keep up with the economy...

Obviously, transportation and commerce go hand-in-hand with economic development.  And, we are in the top 10 fastest growing counties in the state so we need to keep up.

The board of commissioners has allocated a portion of the estimated $3.2-million in additional annual sales tax revenue toward supporting the operations and maintenance of the Northstar Commuter Rail Line.

Currently, the Regional Railroad Authority levies property taxpayers to pay for Sherburne County's share of Northstar.

Sherburne County will begin collecting the half-cent local option sales tax on January 1, 2019.