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Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? We have answers. Check back often as we may be adding more information as the referendum vote date approaches.

Making meaningful investments in public parks and recreational facilities is an important part of serving residents and improving the quality of life in Edina. Edina’s population has grown 13 percent in the last decade alone. The City’s $64.6 million plan would address several priorities identified by residents, including new trails, additional courts for pickleball and basketball, new playgrounds and gathering spaces, nature preservation and infrastructure updates.

The City is proposing a half-percent local option sales tax to finance the investment. The State Legislature authorized the City to place the sales tax option on this November's ballot to provide $39.3 for both parks. During the 2022 session, the City asked lawmakers to allow Edina voters to consider using the sales tax for an additional $25.3 million to expand Braemar Arena. While lawmakers included the request in the omnibus tax bill, the legislation ultimately stalled. The City plans to return to the Legislature next session with the same request.

Yes. Over the past five years, local option sales taxes have emerged as an important investment tool for cities and counties to fund major public projects. Edina is one of 15 cities and counties in Minnesota that have authorization from the State Legislature to propose a sales tax to voters in November 2022, including Maple Grove, Carlton County and Grand Rapids. Outside of the metro, more than 40 other cities have been authorized by the Legislature over the past 20 years to enact a sales tax to help fund regional improvements.

Across Minnesota, dozens of cities and counties have adopted local sales taxes that are collected on top of the state's 6.875 percent sales tax rate. The local sales taxes are most often from 0.5 to 1 percent and help pay for new community centers, jails, libraries and other major public projects. Over the past four years, cities that have passed local sales taxes include Saint Peter (new fire station), West St. Paul (road projects), Elk River (parks and recreation improvements), Rogers (trail and pedestrian projects and aquatics) and International Falls (transportation and infrastructure).

City leaders began gathering input from residents in 2016 regarding the needs of Fred Richards and Braemar parks. Feedback from community meetings and surveys helped shape the investment plan, and the City successfully received legislative approval in 2021 to propose a half-percent sales tax to voters to finance it. Ultimately, Edina residents will decide whether this is the right commitment for our community.

Core elements of the plan include more outdoor athletic courts for pickleball and basketball, new biking and pedestrian trails, more playgrounds and picnic areas, and new initiatives to protect water resources and natural habitats. The proposed expansion of Braemar Arena, which includes a fourth sheet of indoor ice, reflects the popularity of hockey and skating in our community and seeks to ensure that all residents can continue enjoying these activities year-round.

The total amount of the investment plan is $64.6 million that would be financed over a 17-year period. Here’s how that funding would be allocated:

At Fred Richards Park: $17.7 million would be used to provide a wide range of new amenities, such as new trails, eight new pickleball courts, new basketball courts, accessible playground areas, a pavilion and lawn games area, an improved clubhouse with expanded food and beverage options, and additional parking and access via West 77th Street.

At Braemar Park: $8.1 million would be invested on a variety of additions, including a new trail system for walking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing, new pickleball courts and platform tennis courts, upgrades to the baseball complex, a playground, and improved access to Braemar Golf Course, Braemar Arena and Courtney Fields.

At Braemar Arena: $13.5 million would address critical infrastructure repairs and upgrades, including the HVAC system, roofing, restrooms, locker rooms and rink cooling systems. The City will seek legislative approval in 2023 for an additional investment of $25.3 million to demolish the South Rink and add two new ice rinks, build an improved drop-off/pick-up area, add parking and expand the lobby. If the City received authorization from the Legislature, Edina voters would have the final say on the investment in a future election.

The sales tax option would spread the tax impact of the project across both residents and non-residents, rather than only residents who own or rent property. Approximately 54 percent of a sales tax increase would be paid by nonresidents of Edina, according to a newly updated analysis by the University of Minnesota. A local sales tax option also gives residents the ability to choose how improvements to the city’s parks will be financed.

The local half-percent sales tax would be applied the same as the state sales tax. There are some exemptions to the sales tax, including groceries, clothing, prescription drugs and baby products. For more information, view this list of taxable items and this list of most nontaxable items from the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Minnesota state law governs how the City can spend revenue created through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). State law is explicit that cities cannot spend property tax revenue created by TIF for park and recreation improvements.

For cities and counties to receive authorization to propose a sales tax, the Minnesota Legislature requires that the plan provide a regional benefit from the investment because the sales tax is paid by both residents and nonresidents. In 2021, state lawmakers determined that Edina’s investment plan for Fred Richards Park and Braemar Park met their standard for regional benefit, but decided that a proposed project for Morningside Park and Weber Woods did not.

Braemar Arena staff is committed to maintaining the facility. But after decades serving tens of thousands of skaters annually, the facility’s infrastructure is showing wear and tear that extends well beyond what can be addressed through good maintenance. Major upgrades to the HVAC system, roof, locker rooms, restrooms and rink surfaces are needed to ensure Braemar Arena can continue to meet the demands of residents and users for many years to come.

The average cost per resident of the sales tax would be about $3.03 per month, or $36.35 per year, according to a newly updated analysis by the University of Minnesota.

No. The sales tax expires in 19 years. If the bonds for the parks projects are paid off before then, the sales tax expires earlier. The only way the tax could be extended or used for other projects would be if the Legislature authorized the change and Edina voters approved.

The two questions are:
1. Shall the City of Edina be authorized to impose a one-half of one percent (0.5%) sales and use tax for up to 19 years for $21.6 million in improvements at Braemar Park and Arena and associated bonding costs?

2. Shall the City of Edina be authorized to impose a one-half of one percent (0.5%) sales and use tax for up to 19 years for $17.7 million in improvements at Fred Richards Park and associated bonding costs?

A half-percent sales tax would be collected if voters approve one or both questions.

The half-cent sales tax amounts to 5 cents on a $10 purchase and would be paid by residents and nonresidents alike.

If voters approve at least one of the two ballot questions, the half-percent sales tax would take effect in 2023, and project work would begin after that.

The proposed investments at Braemar Park and Arena are not expected to lead to an increase in operational costs at Braemar Park and Arena. Several proposed projects, including trail improvements, a playground at Courtney Fields and pickle ball courts at Braemar Golf Course, will not require additional staffing.

If the financing plan is approved for Fred Richards Park, design and development work would begin, and an operational analysis and new revenue projections would be completed.

If the new investments generate a rise in operational costs above new revenues, proceeds from Edina Liquor could be used to cover them. As always, the City is committed to managing expenses as efficiently as possible.

With a growing population and rising demand for recreation opportunities, the City is committed to addressing the needs of our parks and amenities that residents have identified to maintain the quality of life that makes Edina such an attractive place to work, live and play. A local sales tax option would spread the cost of improvements among residents and nonresidents, who frequent local businesses and use many of the City’s public amenities.

There is little evidence that a half-cent sales tax would have a negative effect on local businesses, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Center. Investments in our city’s parks and recreation help attract new residents and visitors to the city, which supports the local economy.

Early voting begins Friday, Sept. 23. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Edina residents will be able to vote early by absentee ballot or in person at the polls.

You must be registered to vote to cast your ballot. You can register now by visiting the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, or register at your polling location on Election Day.

The projects reflect several goals of Edina’s Climate Action Plan. If the sales tax referendum is approved, Braemar Park and Fred Richards Park would receive additional trees to increase the city’s tree canopy and restore native plantings. Unused turf would be converted and invasive species would be removed to allow for the greater protection of natural habitat, increases in pollinator-friendly areas and increased storm water management and flood protection.