The roller-coaster ride endured by supporters of a new library for the city of Cambridge is finally about to come to an end.
During the state of Minnesota legislature’s special session held on Friday, May 24, the omnibus bill that included Cambridge’s .5% sales tax increase was passed by both the House and the Senate and was signed by governor Tim Walz. The bill was passed despite opposition to tax increases by some members of the legislature, including Representative Brian Johnson, who serves District 32A, which includes Cambridge.
That opposition and the extension of the legislature into a special session was the latest of the obstacles supporters of the library faced, which also included one failed public referendum vote in 2016 before it was passed by 61.63% of the voters during the 2018 election.
Besides Johnson’s opposition, which included briefly trying to have the increase removed from the House’s omnibus bill, Senator Mark Koran also indicated his apprehensions over it before ultimately introducing it into the Senate’s version of the omnibus tax bill.
The bill passed by the legislature included all three projects that were earmarked for funding from the sales tax increase, for a total of $22 million. Of that, $8 million will go towards the new library, which will be housed in the old GracePointe Crossings’ Gables East building.
Just over $11.5 million will go to a variety of street improvement projects throughout the city, with the remaining $2.275 million going to parks improvements.
The final steps in the process will take place during the June 3 and June 17 city council meetings. During the June 3 meeting, the council will decide the specific projects to be funded by the sales tax increase. On June 17, the council will simply have to adopt an ordinance declaring the sales tax increase.
Once everything is approved, the increase will begin on Aug. 1, 2019, and run until Dec. 31, 2043, or whenever the city collects the full $22 million, whichever comes first.