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Duluth mayor testifies to renew expired tax

Duluth Mayor Don Ness testified in St. Paul before the Senate Tax Reform Subcommittee on Wednesday morning, making his case for the renewal of a half-percent tax on local sales of food, beverages and hotel/motel accommodations.

The tax expired in 2012, but Ness is seeking to renew it in hopes of using its proceeds to develop and promote recreational attractions along the St. Louis River corridor. The tourism tax is expected to annually yield about $1.25 million.

Ness appeared as the guest of Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, who authored a bill to grant the city’s request for the half-percent tourist tax. He said Duluth’s proposal has been held over along with several other communities’ local requests for consideration at the next meeting of the subcommittee.

“Procedurally, it’s exactly what we wanted to have happen today,” Reinert said.

 If the request passes out of the Senate Tax Reform Subcommittee, it could be rolled into the latest Senate omnibus tax bill.

Similar legislation also is advancing in the House.