Voters oppose Wadena's .25% sales tax; Mayor says, no sales tax - no reduction in levy
Voters answered with 55.7% saying "no" and 44.3% saying "yes"
WADENA — City of Wadena voters chose by a vote of 797 to 632 to not support implementing a quarter percent sales tax on taxable purchases in the city in Tuesday’s general election.
It was a decision that Mayor George Deiss found disappointing. He felt that having the cost paid by everyone who shops in Wadena was by far a better method than having to increase the levy amount thereby adding to the property tax burden for city of Wadena residents only.
“The idea of having everybody that comes through town to pay for it would have been just great,” Deiss said. Deiss fears there was still confusion behind what this sales tax was meant to do in the city despite it being defined on the ballot.
The alternative in this situation is that this bond will be part of the city’s levy for a minimum of 12 years. This year alone, that bond pressed the levy up to nearly 10% increase compared to what may have been a 2-4% increase for the 2023 levy. On top of an increase to the levy, the city pulled various spending out of the budget for equipment replacement needs in an effort to not increase costs anymore.
“We won’t be reducing the levy. It will stay at the early one we set in September. There is no other fund raising sources. We’re not going to be able to go back to the Legislature and ask again for the same project,” Deiss said.
Deiss said it made sense to him to implement that quarter percent as it would be a lower cost to most Wadena residents.
“The bond is going to get paid, that’s not the problem,” Deiss said. “What we wanted to do was give the citizens a better option.”
"We'll move forward. Wadena will survive," Deiss said in closing.
While Wadena turned down the chance to pay for the library with a quarter percent tax, Staples approved a question with 62.7% in favor to increase their sales tax by half a percent until $1.6 million is raised for replacement and renovations at the Staples Community Center.
The city of Fergus Falls had two questions on their ballot. In the first question, 59.7% of voters approved a .5% sales and use tax to finance an aquatics center in Roosevelt Park to the tune of $10.8 million. In question No. 2, 60.1% of voters passed another .5 percent sales tax to raise $5.2 million for the DeLagoon Park improvement project.