Sparta Ponders Aquatic Center
The City of Sparta says there are 3 reasons as to why they would like to build a new outdoor aquatic center where the aging pool currenty sits. First.......the pool was built in the late 40's and is in deteriorating condition. Second, to remain competitive with other communities that have constructed new aquatic facilities over the past few years. And finally....they can afford to build one at this point in time. City Administrator, Ken Witt, says this was not an over night idea brought to the table.
Debt service payments for the City are declining rapidly over the next couple of years. This allows for the construction of a pool facility without the necessity of increasing the tax levy. Old debts will be replaced with new debt for the pool at the same annual debt payment level. The issue is up for an advisory referendum on April 3rd.
Minnesota Wants To Double Cig Tax
(AP) Two Republican lawmakers want Minnesota's cigarette tax to more than double as a way to deter smoking and to repay Minnesota schools for aid delays during recent state budgets. Sen. Carla Nelson and Rep. Mike Benson, both of Rochester, outlined the bill Monday that they will formally introduce later in the week. Nelson acknowledged it cuts against Republican anti-tax orthodoxy but says she hopes her party and the public will embrace it because of the intended purpose. Minnesota's current $1.23 cent per-pack tax currently ranks among the middle of all states. The bill would boost that to $2.52. By supporters' estimates, a higher tax would generate $320 million in the next two years. Nelson says the bill would make it less likely that price-conscious young people would start smoking.
Teacher Bill Passes Minnesota House
(AP) The Minnesota House has unanimously passed a bill that would require teachers to pass a basic skills test before getting a teacher's license. Republican bill sponsor Andrea Kieffer says the legislation would keep unqualified teachers out of the classroom.
Current law allows teachers to hold a provisional license for three years while continuing to retake the test. The companion bill hasn't received a vote in the full Senate. Gov. Mark Dayton has not yet taken a public stance on the bill.
Frontier Airlines To Cut Jobs
(AP) Frontier Airlines will cut nearly 500 Milwaukee area employees as part of a major service reduction in Milwaukee. Nearly half are flight crew members based at Mitchell International Airport. Those workers will be reassigned to bases outside Milwaukee. Frontier plans to make the job cuts in April, according to a filing Monday with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Denver-based Frontier has about 1,000 employees based in Milwaukee. Many of the flight crews don't live in the Milwaukee area. But other employees live in southeastern Wisconsin, including maintenance workers, gate agents and baggage handlers. The news comes just four days after Frontier announced it will eliminate five nonstop routes from Milwaukee. Those cuts will reduce daily departures out of Mitchell International from 32 to 18.
Changes Continue For Vikings Stadium
(AP) The Vikings say they have ``significant concerns'' with a new proposal to fund the $1 billion stadium in Arden Hills using user fees instead of a county food and liquor sales tax. The latest proposal from Ramsey County leaders would raise an estimated $20.6 million annually from parking fees, admissions surcharges and a stadium sales tax in addition to parking lot naming rights. Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley says Friday the prior agreement with Ramsey County hinged on the team receiving parking revenues and naming rights and a condition of no admissions taxes. Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett called the new plan a ``game changer'' after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton. He later acknowledged that the Vikings may not like elements of the new plan.