City of Rochester looking to invest in city’s future with local sales tax

Investing in the city’s future

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(ABC 6 News) – Rochester’s newest investment is called the “local sales tax renewal projects” and tonight council members heard suggestions on how the money should be spent.

Rochester voters decided in November to extend the city’s sales tax, and tonight we know the price tag of these four projects totals $205 million.

The plan includes:

  • $50 million would go towards the Economic Vitality Fund.
  • $50 million would fund street reconstruction.
  • $40 million would be spent on flood control and water quality.
  • $65 million would go towards the Regional Sports and Recreation Complex.

With $15 million coming from taxpayers every year, city leaders looked at funding the regional sports and rec center first and then pay-as-we go for the other projects.

This proposal didn’t sit well with some council members or Rochester’s mayor.

If that proposal is approved, around $3.3 million annually collected taxes would fund street repairs, something Rochester mayor Kim Norton says isn’t enough.

“I’m wondering how we can spend more money in this area if we don’t prioritize [for this] in a different way, with using more money upfront which is when we need it, which is now.”

It’s not just street repairs, Norton says housing should be another priority.

Under the current recommendation, another $3.3 million each year would go towards that but is that enough?

“I just feel like this is an opportunity here and I don’t want to waste it waiting five years or ten years because the need is today,” Norton said.

With these four projects taking place over the coming years, figuring out what to prioritize is something the council will have to agree upon and how much they plan to invest each year.

Deputy city administrator Aaron Parrish says the less appealing option would be to pay-as-the-city-goes on all four projects.

“If there was a larger investment within the 3.3 million a year that you have allocated you could say, we will try to find a way to finance that larger amount, it just then reduces what you can do out in the future.”

This will be a discussion that will be ongoing all year as the city decides how they’ll move forward in the future.

For a full breakdown of all four projects, click HERE.