ST. PAUL, Minn. – Republican Sen. David Osmek of Mound is defending his legislation to increase the sales tax in Excelsior, Minnesota.
Osmek’s bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R – Farmington), would increase the sales tax in Excelsior by half a cent. Revenue raised would be put towards improving the Excelsior Commons, a recreational park that attracts thousands of Minnesotans in surrounding cities.
A three-time “Best Friend of the Taxpayer” award recipient, Osmek says he was not keen on raising the sales tax, but saw no other viable options for obtaining the necessary funding. Osmek says there are several vital repairs that need to be made, including fixing a deteriorating shoreline.
“We’re not talking about gold-plated chalets here, this is just improving the shoreline so it doesn’t continue to deteriorate, improving the conditions of the swimming beach, and baseball fields, and upgrading the facilities,” explained Osmek, “Laying it on just Excelsior doesn’t make sense to me, everyone in the South Lakes area uses that park.”
Osmek says before introducing the legislation he met with local mayors and city council members, as well as business leaders in the community, saying all but one business supported the sales tax increase.
As written, the legislation would revert back to the original sales tax rate after the necessary funds to make the improvements are secured.
Lakeshore Weekly News reports Rep. Cindy Pugh (R – Chanhassen), said she was not approached about signing on to the legislation, saying she would be, “hesitant to burden the hard-working families and seniors of Excelsior with any additional tax burden.”
Osmek, however, says the use of a sales tax makes the most sense because a large portion of citizens using the park are from surrounding cities. Park attendees typically stop in to local bars, restaurants, and shops while visiting the Excelsior Commons.
The bills are presently laid over in the tax committees for possible inclusion in their omnibus bills.