Ramsey official says charter may still be an obstacle in stadium deal

Ramsey County Charter Commissioner Peter Hendricks says state law requires voters approve local sales taxes, even though he voted against changing local law to require a referendum. He says if legislators make an exception to that rule it will likely lead to a court battle.

A Ramsey County Charter Commission member who helped shoot down a public vote on a new stadium tax urges state leaders to allow the public to weigh in on the matter.

In a letter to Governor Mark Dayton, legislators and stadium officials, Peter Hendricks says state elected leaders should not make an exception to a state law that requires voter approval for local sales tax. He points to the vote to waive the voter requirement in Hennepin County during the deal to solidify funding for the Twins’ Target Field construction as a possible precedent for the proposed financing deal for a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills.

Hendricks was among the majority on the charter commission to vote Tuesday against changing Ramsey County rules. The change would require a public vote for a half-cent sales tax needed to make the deal come together.

In his letter he says his vote should not be taken as tacit support for the Vikings or a tax increase. Instead he says it comes from his understanding of the law and the role of Government.

“Personally, I oppose the Principles of Agreement” from May between the Vikings and Ramsey County, Hendricks writes. The agreement calls for the county to pitch in to help cover the costs of the $1 billion dollar stadium on the former ammunition manufacturing grounds.

He goes on to remind state leaders that Ramsey County voters can still hold a referendum on the tax if people submit a petition with the required number of valid signatures. He says if legislators then make a calculated political decision to bypass the referendum requirement, then--in his words--’it should come as no surprise many voters will be disappointed’ in their lack of leadership. He also predicts lawsuits will erupt over the decision and the stadium deal will be decided by the courts.

View Charter Commissioner Peter Hendricks letter:

Ramsey County Charter and Vikings

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