Most Duluthians have no problem paying more sales tax

Provided it makes city roads better.

Somewhat lost in the mix of all the mayoral elections in the Twin Cities and beyond on Tuesday was a referendum held in Duluth.

The question: Are you willing to pay 0.5 percent more in sales tax for the next 25 years to fund street repairs?

And the answer was an overwhelming yes, which gives you an indication of how darn bad the roads are in Duluth.

Some 12,021 voters voted in favor of the tax hike – which at 76.52 percent of balloters is more than three times as many as the 3,689 who voted against it.

Duluth already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state, and a 0.5 percent increase would bring it up to 8.875 percent on most purchases, MPR notes.

The hike would generate an extra $7 million in revenue to help improve Duluth's 450-mile road system, with residents down in the dumps over the city's pot-holed and dilapidated streets.

But the Duluth News Tribune reports it's not a sure thing yet, as any increase in local sales tax needs to be approved at the state legislature level.

This could prove a stumbling block, given how elevated Duluth's sales tax already is.

Mayor Emily Larson, however, says that the result of the referendum shows how strongly the city feels about improving the roads, saying a 77 percent vote is "pretty darn good."

"Thank you, Duluth, for choosing a long term, sustainable plan for streets funding," she said, adding: "We've made it over the first hurdle and I've got your support through this referendum to keep working this plan and get it over the finish line. Thank you. Next stop: the legislature."

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