County on track to pay off ballpark earlyby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Hennepin County says it has saved nearly $54 million in interest and is on track to pay off its debt for Target Field years early.
The Twins ballpark in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis cost $555 million. Hennepin County commissioners just barely approved a sales tax to help cover their part of the tab -- $350 million. The 0.15 percent sales tax amounts to about 3 cents on every $20 purchase that isn't food, clothing or car-related.
Hennepin County originally planned to pay off the debt by 2037. But county board Chairman Mike Opat said it has already prepaid $31 million to save nearly $54 million in interest, and he said that trend will likely continue.
"Although the economy has been slower than we thought," he said, "interest rates have been lower than we thought. So the combination of those has allowed us to save some money for future capital expenses and then begin paying down the debt."
Opat said that paying the debt off early means more money stays in taxpayers' pockets.
"We've been able to do this despite what many of the critics said at the time. We were regularly criticized for proposing a sales tax, but we did it because it was predictable, because we could budget to it," he said.
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