A proposed half-cent sales tax in Fulton could create funding for improvements to city stormwater management and the parks and recreation department, supporters say.
The tax comes in the wake of a Department of Natural Resources audit last June that determined Fulton was not compliant with its stormwater management permit. The DNR focused on pollution and flood control in the city as problem areas for the city.
“If the sales tax is passed we will definitely be working on that,” Fulton Interim City Engineer Kyle Bruemmer said. “All the feedback I’ve had from our citizens is that the stormwater (improvement) is seen as a necessity.”
Stinson Creek, which runs through downtown Fulton, was listed as an impaired creek by the DNR in June due to low oxygen levels and other pollutants. Bruemmer said not having proper stormwater management in place means pollutants like oil or fertilizers could run off into local streams and lakes, causing problems like those in Stinson Creek.
A half-cent tax is the maximum amount that can be proposed for stormwater and parks and recreation, per the state legislature. This is not the first time Fulton has tried to pass a sales tax to increase stormwater and parks and recreation revenue. In 2007, a similar tax was proposed.
“It’s definitely a different climate in 2016 than it was in 2007, the last time we tried this,” Johnson said. “I think the community is definitely more aware of the environmental issues that both Fulton and the state face, which will make it more likely that people vote for it on the stormwater side.”
Bruemmer said citizens he has talked to realize the stormwater problem has been “put off” long enough.
“Whether the sales tax goes through or not, most people do know that DNR and their big brother the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are going to force us to do something in that regard anyway,” Bruemmer said.
In February, the city approved a resolution to install mobile stormwater meters in the city to identify areas that need the most attention.
According to the Fulton City Hall website, the tax will generate about $750,000 annually. The stormwater funds will go towards fixing current problems with runoff from stormwater and adding curb and gutters to streets.
The portion allocated to parks and recreation would help build indoor facilities for recreational opportunities, which Bill Johnson, the city director of administration, said the city does not currently have.
“We have a great soccer complex and multiple ball fields around, but we don’t have any indoor places to provide recreational opportunities for citizens,” Johnson said. “This would allow the parks and rec department to drastically expand programming opportunities.”
The first project for parks and recreation would be a community center Johnson said. The city’s website also said funding would go towards a five-field baseball and softball complex and an outdoor aquatics center.
There is a public forum scheduled for Thursday, March 31 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Fulton City Hall for residents seeking more information about how funds collected from the tax will be used. Residents will vote on the tax in the April 5 elections.