Rochester sales tax up for renewal on November ballot

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(ABC 6 News) – In November, people in Rochester will decide if they want to renew the local sales tax.

It’s a half-percent tax that’s been in effect for more than 40 years.

Ahead of the election, some Rochester groups are holding information sessions to tell people why they should “vote yes.” The first of those sessions was Thursday night at RCTC.

The point of the meeting was to inform the community about what projects the city hopes to use the sales tax money for and break down what each of them would cost.

There are four programs the city wants to fund with the sales tax revenue should it be approved. These are flood control, street construction, creating affordable housing, and building a regional sports complex.

If passed, the sales tax will be in effect until $205 million dollars is raised – enough to fund each of these four projects.

“Until we collect that $205 million, it’ll come in and our expenses will come in, so we’ll take so many roads every year, we’ll do so much for the flood control,” said Ward 5 Councilman Shaun Palmer.

Not everyone who showed up at the session is in favor of renewing the sales tax, but a majority are, like Bruce Buller, who thinks taxpayers should do their part.

“How do I work at supporting the city, or supporting the school district? Well, it’s by saying yes to this kind of thing,” said Buller.

This half-percent sales tax currently makes up 10% of the city’s budget.

However, it’s not just Rochester residents paying the bill. About 43% of the money that comes from the sales tax is from visitors shopping in Rochester.

The next information session will be on September 19th from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Saint Mary’s University Rochester Campus.