WAITE PARK -- The city of Waite Park is looking into the idea of creating a new half-cent sales tax.

During Monday’s meeting the council approved seeking legislative approval to bring the question to the voters.

The half-cent sales tax would be used to fund up to three regional projects - 10th Avenue Regional Corridor, regional trail connections and a new public safety facility.

City Administrator Shaunna Johnson says because 80% of sales tax collected in Waite Park comes from people outside of the community, a new half-cent sales tax allows them to collect revenue from those visitors and not require the property owners to pay for the projects alone.

The 10th Avenue Regional Corridor would include the reconstruction of the roadway from Third Street North to Parkway Drive, with additional traffic lanes, and a significant right-of-way acquisition to widen the north-south corridor. The cost would be for up to $10-million to be collected over seven years.

The goal of the Regional Trail Connections would be to connect the Wobegon Trail and Glacial Lakes State Trail and build a trail segment to connect the Glacial Lakes Trail to the existing city trail system to allow for the connection to Quarry Park. This connection would provide access to trails from Willmar to Waite Park and from Waite Park to Fergus Falls and all the way to Superior.  The cost for the trail improvements would be for up to $7.5-million to be collected over 5 years.

The final project would be to build a new Public Safety Facility. Due to the growth of the city and increase in full-time police offers over the years, the current facilities exceed capacity. As a result, the new Public Safety Facility would move the city’s police department out of city hall and into their own building. The project would cost up to $20-million to be collected over 13 years.

If all three projects are approved by the voters, the total cost would be around $37.5-million, and would be collected over 25 years, with an average of $1.5-million collected each year.

Johnson says if the Legislature approves their request, they would be looking at a referendum on the general election ballot in November of 2022.

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