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Rail tax plan aimed at improving safety

Lead Summary

If a proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton to put an additional tax on railroads is passed Swift County could receive nearly $123,000 annually to address crossings safety issues.
The City of Benson would receive more than $27,000 each year while Appleton would get $35,472.  In all, Swift County’s eight towns would receive $91,437 a year to improve the safety at crossings in their communities.
In all, Dayton’s proposal would spend $330 million over the next 10 years to provide safer rail crossings. He is also recommending $3.1 in funding for a new training facility at Camp Ripley to provide hands on training for emergency managers and first responders regarding oil train derailments and other hazardous material spills.
 “Improved crossings will mean fewer chances for train and wheeled vehicles crashes, which will mean less likelihood of derailments,” MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle said. “If an incident does occur, well-trained emergency personnel will be better able to protect the citizens and communities that lie along rail lines.”
However, Dayton’s proposal is a long way from becoming law and even if approved by the Minnesota Legislature, it is sure to face legal challenges from the railroad companies. It also faces opposition in the Republican-controlled Minnesota House of Representatives.
Revenues from
Dayton’s Tax on Railroads
Railroad tax revenue Swift County
Swift County    $122,945
Rail tax revenue Swift County cities
Appleton    $35,472
Benson    $27,352
Clontarf    $3,949
Kerkhoven    $11,891
Holloway    $5,505
Murdock    $3,099
DeGraff    $2,182
Danvers    $1,987
All cities    $91,437

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