St. Cloud Voters Approve, Reject Ballot Questions. What Now?
ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- St. Cloud property owners will see a small increase in their property taxes starting in 2024 after a ballot question was approved by the voters in Tuesday's election.
Question #2 passed overwhelmingly 65 percent to 35 percent to raise property taxes for 20 years to pay for improvements to the city's neighborhood parks.
According to city information, a $200,000 home will see about a $45 increase per year.
Mayor Dave Kleis says they'll be bonding for the money in advance so they can start working on the park improvements already next year. The park projects are expected to take three years from 2023 through 2025 and will include things like playground equipment, new pickleball courts, and converting wading pools into splash pads.
Before any particular project is approved it will go through the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, then in some cases, the Planning Commission, and ultimately the City Council has to approve the appropriation.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking before St. Cloud loses out on $10 million in state bonding money designated for improvements to the Municipal Athletic Complex.
On Tuesday voters rejected a half-cent sales tax, with 53 percent voting no and 47 percent voting yes, which would have collected $21 million over five years.
Back in October of 2020, the Minnesota State Legislature approved $10 million in bonding money for the project, which requires a local match. Bonding money has a four-year window or it goes back to the state, which means the city has less than two years left to figure it out.
Kleis says he's going to lobby the legislature to waive the upfront match so the city can take the $10 million and start the project, with the hope of eventually raising the rest of the money through private donations.
Potentially we know long term we'll have enough private fundraising, but that will take many years. So, if we can forgo the match now we can take that bonding and put it into the MAC for the more critical upgrades like the ADA compliance, the locker rooms, and the stuff that people will notice.