Absentee voting begins for Olmsted County on Friday

(ABC 6 News) – From the local to state level, every fall brings with it elections, and this year the city of Rochester will have two measures on the ballot.

The two elections will be taking place in Olmsted County this upcoming fall with voters deciding on the extension of the Rochester city sales tax and Rochester Public Schools technology referendum.

With the extension of Rochester’s city wide sales tax, which the city is hoping to use to fund four projects. Those include flood-control and water-quality projects, street upkeep, housing and economic development, and a proposed regional sports complex.

“We do have a website, Renew Rochester.org,” said City Administrator Allison Zelms. “That’s up and running. I’s just a lot of information about the sales tax initiative and the critical projects that it’ll fund. It’ll be collected for up to 24 years or when it’s collected and our current collections suggest that is going to happen as soon as 15 years from now.”

The second measure on the ballot this year is a Rochester Public Schools referendum which is seeking a roughly $10 million funding stream for technology upgrades.

“The key thing to remember is that frees up seven million that are now funding technology with from or general fund and we’ll put that money right into keeping class sizes at their current level,” RPS Superintendent Kent Pekel said.

“Some of that $14 million is for very specific purposes like American-Indian education students and media specialists. But there certainly was an increase,” said Pekel. “That said we’ve cut $21 million in the last 2 years so you can tell $14 million compared to that it doesn’t take away the need for asking additional targeted support from our citizens.”

The city of Rochester is asking for $205 million in total. $40 million will go to flooding and water, $50 million for both street upkeep and housing and economic development, and $65 million for the proposed sports complex.

Superintendent Pekel said that more budget cuts will have to follow with next year’s budget and class sizes around the district will shrink.

People can go to the Olmsted County elections office to either vote in person from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, or drop off a ballot mailed to them until November 7.