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NORTH MANKATO — Area residents can air their views on a proposed half-percent food and beverage sales tax with the North Mankato City Council next week.

The council will hold a public hearing on the proposal, which could offset operating costs at Caswell Park and a future fieldhouse, during a public meeting 7 p.m. Monday at North Mankato City Hall.

Council members are not scheduled to vote on the tax Monday.

City officials have worked to bring the food and beverage sales tax to fruition since 2017, which would offset operating costs at Caswell Park.

The Legislature included the city’s request for a 1% tax in this year’s tax bill, which the city requested to mirror Mankato’s existing food and beverage sales tax.

Mankato approved a 0.5% sales tax in 2008 to fund operating costs at the Mankato Civic Center. North Mankato’s sales tax is estimated to bring in about $50,000 annually.

The council is split on the sales tax, however. North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen and Council member Diane Norland support the tax, while Council members Jim Whitlock and Sandra Oachs oppose it. Council member Billy Steiner opposed the sales tax earlier this summer but has since said he’s undecided.

Steiner’s vote could decide the issue. Oachs, who owns Spinners Bar & Grill with her husband, would be directly affected by the tax — meaning she may abstain from a sales tax vote.

City officials say the sales tax spreads the burden among visitors to the community to help maintain Caswell Park and a future indoor recreation center, rather than just levying the tax on property owners.

Oachs and other critics say the tax would harshly affect area restaurants and bars, as owners often operate on thin profit margins. And the tax would likely be passed onto customers through raised prices.

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