Downtown Minneapolis library gets ballpark boost

11:10 PM, Feb 8, 2010   |    comments
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Target Field

Minneapolis, Minn. --  The occasion was a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the library's expansion of hours, which now include Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Twins connection to "Ballpark Monday" is that both the team and library patrons continue to benefit from the 0.15% county sales taxes imposed since 2007 to pay the public's share of what's now known as Target Field.

"This is the first time that the Minneapolis Central Library is going to be open seven days a week in almost 40 years!" Peter McLaughlin, a Hennepin County Commissioner, told the crowd that gathered in the atrium Monday morning.

After getting the green light for the sales tax from state lawmakers, the county commission in 2006 voted to pay $350 million toward the cost of the stadium.  Of that, $260 million went to stadium construction and $90 went to infrastructure and site preparation in the warehouse district.

The county authorized $350 in bonds, which will be repaid over a 30-year period using proceeds of the sales tax.  That tax generates 3 cents for each $20 spent in the county on taxable items.  How much that comes to on an annual basis is subject to how well the economy performs.

At the time commissioners decided to set aside some of the extra sales tax revenue, up to $2 million per year, for youth sports grants.  They also agreed to dedicate up to $2 million per year in ballpark tax revenues for library improvement.

"That's why this is happening," McLaughlin explained, "We wanted to make sure there were benefits for the broader community, beyond just the ballpark."

The extra money helped with the merger of the Minneapolis and Hennepin County library systems. It was previously used to open three shuttered Minneapolis libraries, including Roosevelt, Southeast and Webber.  It will also help expand hours at new libraries opening later this year in Plymouth and Maple Grove.

Sorry, not a Vikings solution

Contrary to water cooler talk around the state, and blogger buzz on the topic, those tax revenues are not available to finance a Vikings stadium.

The sales tax did not generate enough money to pay for the stadium upfront. The money's being used to repay debt on the public bonds.

The special sales tax will blink off when that debt is repaid in 2037, or earlier if possible.

Twins fans, meanwhile, will find plenty to like in that downtown library.  According to Therese VanBlarcom, the president of the library board, there are 4,000 baseball titles in the Hennepin County system. Among those books are 63 specifically about the Twins.

For more stadium information click on this Hennepin County web link.

Or, try the Minneapolis Ballpark Authority site.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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