By Teri Knight, News Director
T-21, is an ordinance that raises the buying age of tobacco to 21. Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson explains that there can be differences in the wording of ordinances voted on in any municipality, however, “the majority of them are not including language that makes it illegal to possess or use, and some are also not making it illegal to purchase, technically it’s only illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under 21”. Northfield’s ordinance, written by the City Attorney, along with input from Council and Nelson, DOES make it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase tobacco. The goal of T-21 is to reduce access to kids under 18 therefore not giving them an opportunity to start. Nelson said, “because studies show that the younger you start using a chemical, but especially tobacco products, nicotine, the stronger the addiction, the harder it is to break that habit”. There was some discussion around raising the age
to 25 but 21 would be easier to enforce by matching the alcohol law. President Trump signed it into law on December 20th. Local retailers are confused as some of their distributors are telling them to stop selling to those under 21, however with all the paperwork and notifications, the enforcement of that law won’t go into effect until September. Local police don’t generally enforce federal laws. In the meantime, you can expect more educational opportunities and the 2nd reading, ironically, at Northfield Council’s January 21st meeting. It must then be noticed and could become effective in late February.
Nfld could see 1/2 cent sales tax on ballot
The recent park survey the City of Northfield is asking the community to fill out has a question regarding ½ cent sales tax. Mayor Pownell said they need 3 to 400 responses to say that the survey is statistically valid. It’s due today. Administrator Martig said the sales tax would likely add over $600,000 to the City coffers with the money dedicated to parks and recreation. He said, “the alternative we have is basically property taxes. And we’ve struggled to be able to find dollars to even maintain the system that we have. We’ll have more information coming out on that, but we have a very vast system”. That “vast” system is aging. He added that the council met in closed session prior to the meeting to discuss buying property, saying, “we are continuing to have discussions about potentially looking into a park on the north side of town. And it’s kind of in conjunction with serving an underserved area of our community”. It would serve Northfield Estates and Florella’s Mobile Home park. HCI, Healthy Community Initiative, received a grant for about $300,000 for that area specifically, Martig added, “so the City Council talked about a few properties that they might be exploring to acquire. So this could move fairly quickly depending on how discussions go”. That might be putting the cart before the horse without citizen approval yet of a ½ cent sales tax, which was voted down in 2018 along with an ask for dollars for a new Ice Arena. Questions regarding an ice arena are also on the survey. Pownell and Councilors Zweifel and Peterson White provided some perspectives, thoughts and ideas that Fieldstone Research used in the final survey development. Council must decide whether to request sales tax authorization from the state of Minnesota by Jan. 21. If approved, it would be on the ballot in November. There are some caveats to using those dollars including the need to identify five specific projects and having regional interest. 1 – Parks_and_Rec_Survey Northfield (1)
NAFRS Board to meet quarterly
The NAFRS Joint Powers Board held a special organization meeting yesterday. They passed a resolution to meet quarterly rather than monthly and elected Elizabeth Haase as the new Chair and Brad Ness as Vice Chair. Their next regular meeting is January 16th at 8am, those are open to the public and held at the Fire Station. Chief Franek and Haase will be in studio January 23rd to recap the meeting.