Baker said several retailers commented that they would be more supportive of the sales tax if online retailers were also required to collect sales taxes. Businesses would also be more supportive if there was uniformity in sales taxes between Blue Earth and Nicollet counties.
"We don't want to have significant disparities with cities just across the river," he said.
As the county explores the sales tax idea, the plan is to involve the Regional Economic Development Alliance to get a wider perspective — including from Nicollet County and North Mankato.
The board is also very interested in using a portion of any sales tax revenue to offset part of the road and bridge property tax levy. Bruender said his potential vote for a local sales tax would be contingent on property taxes falling as a result. He also indicated he would be more likely to support a tax that was somewhat less than the full half-percent allowed by law.
"If you coordinate the two of those together, I might support some of this," he said.
Board Chairman Will Purvis said property tax relief would be key to his willingness to vote for a sales tax. Commissioner Mark Piepho said only that he wants to see the details of how the property tax reductions would be accomplished. The wheelage tax, which would generate roughly $500,000 a year in Blue Earth County, appears to have much less interest among board members.
With at least the prospect of majority support for the sales tax, Meyer said staff would spend the time and effort to look at the sales tax idea in more depth.
"Now we'll jump into the planning process," he said.