Editorial: Give proposal time to form before nixing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 8, 2001

From one tax question to another.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

From one tax question to another. The school referendum is over, and now it’s time to turn our attention to a proposal that could end up on next year’s ballot: The sales-tax idea proposed by Destination: Albert Lea to fix our downtown and clean up the lakes.

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The Albert Lea City Council will meet Tuesday – a different day than usual because of Veteran’s Day – and hold a public hearing on the matter before making its decision on whether to let the project proceed to the legislature. Nothing would become law unless approved by the state and passed by local voters in a referendum.

The knock on Destination: Albert Lea so far is two-fold: One, some people aren’t interested in more taxes. Two, some people say the group should have more specific projects before it goes asking for tax money.

The key here, however, is that a vote is still a year away. Those who oppose taxes should feel no threat if the city council approves the measure, because no tax could be levied unless voters gave the go ahead. The best way to see if the majority of Albert Lea agrees with the idea is to put it to a vote. The city has no choice but to obey the voters’ will.

As for the group’s plan not being formed, again, there will be time for that, but it makes little sense to come up with too many details before the group even knows if it will get past the city council. If it has a list of specifics and the council turns it down, it could doom the projects, even if they are worthy, because they would be seen as rejected – even if the projects themselves were less the issue than their funding mechanism.

The state legislature would not let the proposal proceed without solid details, so if the measure is to have life, it will need to have specifics before too long. Condemning it now is unfair; the group should have a chance to form and explain their proposal before it is dismissed.

This idea is another one that hints at the possibility of good things down the road for Albert Lea, but we will never know unless the group gets the green light to proceed. It would be unfortunate if the community missed the chance to at least explore it further over the coming months.