Posted at: 08/07/2012 3:42 PM
Updated at: 08/07/2012 3:55 PM
By: Laura Lee
Assignment Education: Taxes for Higher Education
(ABC 6 News) -- Among many issues on the November ballot this Fall, is Rochester's half cent Local Option Sales Tax Reauthorization.
Last week we introduced you to the projects associated with Rochester Community Technical College, in part two of the story, we focus on the projects associated with University of Minnesota Rochester.
Since the last approval of the local option sales tax, Rochester has seen a wealth of higher education benefits. Past projects include the RCTC Stadium, Health Sciences building and the Field house.
Across town, the city wouldn't have the University of Minnesota Rochester and 318 Commons without the financial support of this tax. "As a result of that, we have grown our facilities, we have grown our student base, and our faculty and staff base," says UMR Assistant Vice Chancellor Jay Hesley.
One of the projects included in this years tax reauthorization are new UMR Academic and Complimentary facilities with a price tag of $14 million.
"UMR is growing at a very quick rate, eventually we're going to get to a point where we need our own academic facilities to support the unique requirements of the undergraduate education, we need to make investments to ensure that we can continue to grow," says Hesley.
"The notion of investment sometimes gets a way of being an excuse to spend more," says Fran Bradley.
According to former state legislator Fran Bradley, the temporary local options sales tax has expired.
If this reauthorization is approved, new spending will total nearly $140 million for all ten projects and the local tax will be in place for about the next 15 years.
"My problem with the current authorization is it was temporary, it was supposed to meet those kinds of special tough issues we bump into, not go searching for," says Bradley.
"We could wait for things to happen, or we can make a decision on how we want to invest those funds now, to better support our growth for the future," says Hesley.
"Being proactive is the best way to meet the needs of the future."
Hesley also says, "Rochester is one of the fastest growing cities in the country we have more people wanting to come to Rochester from the region, from the nation, from the world, to participate in health care and in education, in order to do that, we have to have the right infrastructure to support that."
Those opposed to the tax argue where do you draw the line.
"We go searching for ways to spend and go searching for a tax, it was instituted as a temporary tax for specific temporary purposes, when it gets redone again, we have to admit its new spending that's not in the books today," says Bradley.
It is an all or nothing deal. All ten items including the higher education projects must be approved for the any of them to move forward.
For a complete list of all ten items on the Local Sales Tax Reauthorization, we have posted a link under our featured links.