Local Option Sales Tax
The tax is generally referred to as the Local Option Sales Tax. This taxing authority is granted to counties in State Statute (297A.993). According to law, counties may implement a sales and use tax of up to 0.5% and include a vehicle excise tax of up to $20 per vehicle. The funds can only be used on projects designated by the County Board.
To do so requires a public hearing at which the public may submit input and comments. After the public hearing is closed, the County Board may implement the tax by enacting a resolution. Washington County held an initial public hearing to enact a 0.25% sales and use tax to be used for just transit projects. The public hearing period was for 15 days in June 2017. In 2021, the County Board wanted to increase the sales and use tax to 0.5% and expand the list of projects to roadways. The public hearing period for the increase was for 15 days June 15th, 2021. After closing the public hearing, the board voted to increase the sales and use tax from a rate of 0.25% to 0.5% and to retain the $20 vehicle excise tax.
An ever growing list of counties in Minnesota have implemented a local option sales tax. A summary of how many Minnesota counties impose 0.25% and 0.5% can be found here.
Washington County now imposes the tax at a rate of:
- 0.5% sales and use tax
- $20 vehicle excise tax
The overall sales tax rate in Washington County is 7.375%. All metro counties have a sales tax rate between 7.375% and 8.025%.
There is a backlog of nearly $150 million in road improvement projects that is needed in the growing county. The County Board determined that using sales tax to fund these needed improvements will mean everyone who uses county roadways to shop and do business in the county will help pay for them. The alternative would be to increase property taxes, and that would only impact Washington owners of county homes and businesses.
The 0.5% sales and use tax, along with the $20 vehicle excise tax, generates approximately $21 million in revenue each year. These funds are split 50% to pay for road and bridge projects and 50% to pay for transit development and operations.
Below is a list of projects that will be eligible to be funded with the revenue from the sales tax for their development and construction. These projects may also be funded with other funds. This list is not a commitment to construct these projects in any specified time frame – it is only a list showing what projects are eligible to use revenue from this tax. Final decisions and final revenue available will be determined on a year-by-year basis through the county's Capital Improvement Plan process.
|County 15||County 5||Trunk Highway 36||New Roadway Alignment|
|County 50||Trunk Highway 61||County 15||Major Pavement Rehabilitation|
|County 57||County 7||Keystone Ave||Major Pavement Rehabilitation|
|County 74||County 38||Geneva Ave||Road Reconstruct|
|County 65||County 10||County 14||Road Reconstruct|
|County 2||Everton||US TH 61||Major Pavement Rehabilitation|
|County 15||County 10||County 14||Road Expansion - 2 Lane to 3 Lane|
|County 13||County 6||County 14||Road Reconstruct|
|County 13||County 20||County 18||Road Expansion - 2 Lane to 4 Lane|
|County 33||County 2||County 32||Road Expansion - 2 Lane to 3 Lane|
|County 32||County 33||US Highway 61||Road Expansion - 2 Lane to 3 Lane|
|County 29||US Highway 36||County 12||Road Expansion - 2 Lane to 3 Lane|
|County 5||Sycamore St||US Highway 96||Road Reconstruct|
|County 3||170th||240th||Major Pavement Rehabilitation|
|County 19||County 10||Intersection Improvement|
|County 16||County 19||Trunk Highway 95||Road Reconstruct|
|County 19||@ Indian||Center Turn Lane|
|County 10||County 15||County 21||Major Pavement Rehabilitation|
|County 15||148th Street||Major Pavement Rehabilitation|
|County 13||55th Street||Major Pavement Rehabilitation|
|South Highway Maintenance Facility||Reconstruct|
|Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit||St. Paul||Woodbury||BRT Guideway and Stations|