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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.
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 60 percent of a sales tax increase would be paid by nonresidents of Edina, according to an 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 average cost per resident of the sales tax would be $2.62 per month, or $31.48 per year, according to an analysis by the University of Minnesota. In contrast, if the project were financed by a property tax increase, the owner of a median value home of $571,800 would pay an additional $190.37 per year.
No. The tax expires in 19 years. If an amount sufficient to pay the bonds for the Fred Richards Park, Braemar Park and Braemar Arena projects is raised before then, the sales tax would fund general Parks & Recreation capital improvements for the remainder of the term.
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.
If voters do not approve either question, the City of Edina will reengage residents about how to move forward with an investment in both parks and determine whether they prefer changing the funding option, the amount of the investment or the package of improvements.
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.