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Thumbs up to 1% sales tax in DL

There were no upsets when it came to the Detroit Lakes City Council race Tuesday, but the food and beverage tax question barely squeaked by with voters.

The food and beverage 1 percent sale tax passed with 51 percent in favor, or 1,369 votes, and 49 percent opposed, or 1,322 votes.

"I'm happy it passed," Mayor Matt Brenk said Wednesday morning, but admitted he wasn't so sure it was going to pass Tuesday night, watching results come in.

"These projects are ones we really need to keep Detroit Lakes a destination," he said. "It's hard to ask people to pass a tax in these economic times, but I think it'll take some pressure off the property taxpayers."

Money raised from the food and beverage tax will go to four specific things - control of flowering rush on Detroit Lake, public parking facilities, bike trails and the downtown crescent area.

The tax will be collected on any food and beverage sold in restaurants and bars in the city. It will not apply to off-sale liquor or groceries. The tax will generate roughly $225,000 for the city, based on 2007 Department of Revenue numbers.

Brenk said it will take four to five months for the tax to be put into place due to working with the Department of Revenue. Before then, he said he'll likely call a special meeting for the council to determine how the money is going to be divided between the projects.

A deferred item from the October council meeting, the Pelican River Watershed District is asking the city to contribute $90,000 over three years for research being done on controlling flowering rush.

The request was deferred until the Nov. 9 council meeting, and Brenk said it's possible the aldermen will agree to fund that research with the food and beverage tax money without going through the special planning meeting first.

As for the alderman races, incumbent GL Tucker ran unopposed for Ward 3, and newcomer Dan Wenner ran unopposed for the Ward 1 seat.

In Ward 2, incumbent Dave Aune beat out challenger Doug Friendshuh 577 votes to 292, or 66 percent to 34 percent.

For Alderman At Large, incumbent Madalyn Sukke took in the largest amount of votes with 1,756, or 43 percent, and newcomer Al Brevik came in second with 1,322 votes, or 32 percent.

Former alederman Walt Tollefson was also listed on the ballot, but passed away before the election. He received 996 votes, or 24 percent.