3/16/2017 4:02:00 PM Taylors Falls reinvents Wannigan Day, council adopts three percent lodging tax
The Taylors Falls City Council minus member Larry Julik Heine; unanimously approved a lodging tax of three percent Monday night this week. The council was advised that this is part of an economic revitalization effort being advanced by the ABC group, which is competing for millions of dollars in prizes in a contest sponsored by The Weather Channel, CoBank and Frontier Communications.
The taxes, estimated at $30,000 annually, which will be collected from Chisago Lakes Area hospitality businesses goes toward promoting the local tourism economy.
Brenda Palmquist, ABC Committee representative, told the council the idea is to assess this tax countywide, but right now the clock is ticking on the ABC final entry and the deadline is near for completing the committee’s goals, outlined in the finalist judging phase in the contest.
The best three communities-- the ones who have made a plan and achieved the most of that plan-- will vy for prizes of $1 million, $2 million and $3 million. They will be announced the third week in April, and Palmquist advised the council it must act on the lodging tax Monday night, or this funding mechanism for a portion of the economic revitalization would be impossible to get into the final plan. Chisago City, Center City and Shafer have adopted the tax, and Lindstrom will meet this week (March 16) Palmquist reported. The five cities make-up the economic revitalization region competing in the America’s Best Communities promotion.
Council member John Tangen said he thought it was a “great idea,” which was echoed by the other city leaders.
In other business: council looked forward to summer and went over some ideas for bringing Wannigan Day back into Taylors Falls. Mayor Mike Buchite, said there’s been a groundswell to do Wannigan Day “our own way” and celebrate in downtown Taylors Falls.
Over the decades the City of St. Croix Falls became a larger and larger part of the summer event and with a recent announcement that Wisconsin will no longer allow the parade to cross over the interstate bridge on a very busy highway-- Buchite said the June 10 celebration will come back to Taylors Falls.
There were a few special events the council was made aware of and council was also asked to add anything they think would help improve Wannigan Day. The city has a bouncy house, petting zoo, face painter and interactive toy show in mind. The musicians who regularly play at the weekly Jam in the Community Center will perform.
Council voted unanimously to authorize a maximum of $4,000 from Charitable Gambling surcharges and the city Contingency Fund, to be spent on Wannigan Day. The celebration is June 10.
Anybody who wants to get involved is welcome.
There will be no fees charged of vendors or parade units.
Mayor Buchite said the city-owned lot next to the Drive-In will be the location for an arts market, there will be lots of child games and activities and he said, if anyone from across the river wants to add a parade unit or perform music-- they will be welcome.
Mary Jo Murphy is the city council liaison for the arts festival-- and Adam and Mary in the city offices are coordinating everything. Contact them for sharing ideas and volunteering. The Taylors Falls Historical Society is also involved. That Saturday is also Free Admission to Parks Day in Minnesota, so council expects lots of visitors as well as locals.
Taylors Falls’ flower baskets that hang from light poles in town, will be upgraded in what council believes will be a money-saving move.
Self-watering basket liners will cost $2,412 and reduce the need for watering by hand. By not paying a public works employee to water every single day-- Taylors Falls will cover the costs of the liners in less than two seasons and these commercial grade products are projected to last six years.
The council learned from Adam Berklund, zoning administrator, that the city was not approved for the latest round of Safe Routes to School funding. The district and city will submit another request.
Sheriff Rick Duncan and county crime data analyst Michelle Jacobson gave the annual report for contracted cities. The two have presented at Center City, Shafer and other cities that pay extra for a contract deputy service and gave a powerpoint presentation to the county board.
Taylors Falls is hard to compare to similarly sized cities for crime activity, due to an influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors to the riverway and state parks; but generally speaking the crime rate in 2016 was improved over 2015.
Sheriff Duncan said the goal of his patrol personnel was to reduce property crime rates by five percent and the outcome was an actual four percent reduction. Mayor Buchite told the sheriff the city is pleased with the relationship that has developed between the residents, businesspersons and the contract law enforcement personnel.
Another visitor was Chisago Lakes Superintendent Joe Thimm. He spoke about the May Bond Referendum and distributed information materials. See ongoing series of stories in this paper on referendum details.