Water pipeline could get tax bill help

State lawmakers are considering a last minute tax provision to help complete the Lewis and Clark water pipeline in southwestern Minnesota.

There’s already $22 million for the project included in the bonding bill scheduled for a vote today in the House. But Republicans have said that amount is inadequate to get their votes.

House and Senate tax negotiators are working on an alternative solution.

Senate Taxes Committee Chair Rod Skoe, DFL- Clearbrook, said the local communities already have the authority to raise property taxes.

“We did some runs on that. We think it’s a pretty minimal impact on each homeowner to use that as a mechanism,” Skoe said. “I think there’s been some conversations from the local units that they would prefer a sales tax process. So, we’ll probably give them the ability to do either one.”

Neither Skoe nor House Tax Chair Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, could say how much tax assistance is being considered.

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Lenczewski said the Lewis and Clark fix could be modeled after last’s session’s Destination Medical Center provisions for Rochester and the Mayo Clinic.

“We’ll have a partnership and ask the local folks to chip in,” Lenczewski said.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said discussions were continuing to try to give more certainty to the second and third phase of the pipeline project. He would not say whether the tax fix would bring the needed GOP support to pass a bonding bill.

“It’s part of the overall discussions,” Daudt said. “We’ve got a few outstanding issues, but that’s one of them. We want to make sure that Lewis and Clark gets a little more funding and a little more certainty going forward.”