St. Paul sales tax discussion splitting residents, business owners ahead of Tuesday’s vote
On election day, St. Paul voters will weigh whether to increase the city’s sales tax to bring in enough revenue to improve roads and parks.
Minnesota does not tax most clothing and food, so customers would see the tax hike at places like restaurants and retailers.
Some St. Paul businesses explained if this passes, they’ll be hit the hardest.
Walking into the Good Things store on Grand Avenue, customers can find pretty much anything.
“We sell a little bit of everything. We have gifts, clothing and kids merchandise,” said St. Paul Good Things manager Teresa Klettenberg.
Next year, the merchandise could cost more if St. Paul residents vote ‘yes’ to a tax hike.
“It’s tough. It’s going to be something that we will have to have continuous conversations about I’m sure,” Klettenberg said.
The store location is one of five in the metro.
Klettenberg said a higher sales tax could cause customers to cross city lines to avoid it.
It all comes down to a measure that will be on the ballot on Tuesday.
Voters will be faced with a question asking if the city’s sales tax should be increased by one percent to pay for road reconstruction and park improvements.
It would take effect on April 1 of next year and last for two decades.
“For those of us who live in St. Paul, it really is a way to get other people who come into the city to assist us in paying for those things that they are currently using,” Kathy Lantry, Vote Yes for St. Paul organization member, said.
Lantry is a part of “Vote Yes for St. Paul,” which is an organization that supports the measure.
Before retiring, she led St. Paul Public Works. She was also the city council president for 11 years.
“What this is going to be used for is reconstruction of roads that have gotten very, very expensive and right now the cost of that is on the property taxpayers in the city,” Lantry said.
It’s a problem Klettenberg has seen firsthand.
“We have a crumbling sidewalk in front of our store and it’s been there for years and I’ve been in discussion with the city back and forth for many years to fix it,” Klettenberg said.
Some business owners said it’s a tough line to balance because the roads could use an upgrade, but their stores need to survive.
“Hopefully it won’t impact us too dramatically, but there definitely will be a shift in the way that our customers are thinking,” Klettenberg said.
Officials said St. Paul would collect nearly $1 billion in revenue over the two decades with the tax increase.
If voters pass the measure, St. Paul will have the highest sales tax of any city in the state.