By ROCHELLE OLSON
Ramsey County’s third effort at a viable financing plan for a new $1.1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium won’t be ready too soon, Commissioner Tony Bennett said Monday.
“We’re working on it. It won’t be early in the week,” he said, adding that the plan might not be ready until next week.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R- Fairmont, gave the county a deadline of last Friday to present a new plan. County officials couldn’t work that fast and plan architect, county finance director Lee Mehrkens, was off late in the week.
The county last summer put forward the first plan: a proposal to increase the county sales tax by a half percentage point to support the issuance of $350 million in bonds. St. Paul City Hall didn’t like the plan, nor did legislators who wanted a citizens' referendum. A referendum is likely to scuttle the project.
In December, Ramsey County floated the idea of a 3 percent food and beverage tax, but tax-increase averse legislators didn’t like that either.
Bennett and fellow stadium sponsor, Commissioner Rafael Ortega, repeatedly say they are waiting to see a detailed plan from Minneapolis, which is competing with Ramsey County to build a Vikings stadium. Bennett and Ortega noted the county submitted a 148-page proposal earlier this month when Minneapolis provided one that was substantially less detailed.
Bennett also has questioned why Minneapolis would be allowed to extend the current convention center taxes in the city when Ramsey County can’t use food and beverage taxes. Either way, he said, the taxes wouldn’t be there but for the stadium.
Stadium supporters repeatedly have said they want to get something done sooner rather than later in the legislative session, which began last week, and a working group is to meet again this week. If the Ramsey County proposal gets pushed to next week, that could further bog down discussions.