Sales tax issue fails, but Red Wing still wants to do projects
RED WING — Many of the capital improvement projects Red Wing officials hoped would be funded with a 1 percent city sales tax could still be done, despite Tuesday's defeat of that tax increase.
"We're going to try to do these. We still think they are good ideas," Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann said. But the city might have to delay some projects or seek grants or other funding sources, she said.
"There are bits and pieces of those projects that will be pursued, except in a different fashion," she said.
The city asked voters to approve a city sales tax that would have raised $14.9 million over 20 years. Voters rejected it 4,427 votes to 2,962.
A few projects, such as new heating ventilation and air-conditioning for the Sheldon Theatre, will have to be done quite soon because the system needs replacement, Kuhlmann said.
The council has a capital budget planning meeting on Thursday night, and it will be up to the council to decide how to proceed, she said.
City staff members came up with about $6 million in capital projects, but the city has only about $1.8 million so staff and council members will have to decide what to pare, Kuhlmann said.
City officials will also meet with the community leadership team that promoted the sales tax proposal to determine if the idea should re-appear on ballots in a few years, "or did we get a pretty clear message and just walk away," she said.
One of her regrets about sales tax issue's failure was that the timing was right for some projects, Kuhlmann said. For example, the city wanted to rebuild a failing levee retaining wall along the river as part of the reconstruction of a road. That road was to be built in part with federal dollars, so it made sense to do the wall at the same time, she said.
Another thing that will have to be delayed is helping the Red Wing Area Seniors and Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation buy and renovate a building in the Pottery area. The idea was it would be a catalyst to get more energy to the area, she said. She doesn't believe that project will go into the capital budget, so some other funding source will be needed.
Getting the money to pay for projects, such as the Sheldon tuckpointing, all at once would be cheaper because of economy of scale, said City Planning Director Brian Peterson. But he said that will be lost.
Red Wing, however, can scale down or even abandon some project, he said.
The city did try to get state bonding money and other state money but failed on both counts, he said.
The seniors and collectors are still negotiating to buy an old building to turn into the senior center and collectors museum but won't be able to do it as quickly, he said.