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Could local sales tax pay for county road funding?

On the morning after the Alexandria City Council supported a new idea to pay for street projects, the Douglas County Board also talked about the need for more transportation funding.

The board approved a resolution that encourages the Legislature to enact a law that brings adequate funding to Minnesota's statewide transportation system.

The county's resolution notes that the overall transportation and transit funding gap for Minnesota exceeds $2.1 billion per year for the next 20 years.

Right now, most transportation funding comes from user fees.

The resolution states that a wheelage fee and a local option sales tax should be options for county boards to implement in order to meet their specific needs.

The commissioners asked County Engineer Dave Robley to look over the resolution. He said the fee and tax are just options.

"It doesn't state that you support a gas tax increase or how much. It's just general comprehensive transportation funding across the state," Robley said. "I think it's a good resolution."

Bales asked Robley whether a local sales tax is being implemented in the state.

Robley said he's aware of metro areas that have enacted them without having to go to a referendum. It is available for counties across the state but current statute requires a local sales tax to be used for a specific project, he said.

The resolution states that spending money on transportation pays off in the long run. Every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support 27,800 jobs.

In addition, transportation-related jobs put more than $2.8 billion in the pockets of Minnesotans in 2011 and generated almost $195 million in income tax revenue, the resolution noted.

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Reporter Crystal Dey contributed to this story.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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