Residents of some of the smaller counties in the metro area got a chance today to see if the increase in the sales tax is going to make any difference in their counties. We’re talking about you, Washington County.
Rather than individually administer their sales tax money — the right to increase it was given to the counties in the same bill that raised the state’s gas tax — Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota and Washington counties voted to pool their loot.
At a public hearing last April, most residents of the smallest county — Washington — urged county commissioners not to approve the tax increase, partly because there was no guarantee the newly-created Counties Transit Improvement Board — dominated by the big counties — wouldn’t just take the money and spend it in their own counties. Similar thoughts were echoed in Anoka County.
Today, that theory got put to the test. The board voted to spend $270 million in future sales tax money to building the Central Corridor light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul. It also voted to spend future money on the Northstar commuter rail, which is under construction; and rapid bus lines along Cedar Ave. and I-35W.
Washington County got nothing. Hennepin County residents will see a decrease in that portion of their property tax paid to the Hennepin County Rail Authority.