Opponents of a half-cent sales tax, which is slated to back a proposed $65 million revenue bond issue to help finance renovation of the St. Paul civic center, have stopped trying to place the tax before voters.

Though opponents submitted more than the required 6,476 signatures to put the tax on the ballot, about 1,600 of the signatures were ruled invalid, according to city officials. Earlier this month, opponents told the city they will be unable to meet the requirements to validate the petition.

If the petition had been successful, the sales tax would have been placed before voters on the Nov. 2 ballot in conjunction with the may-oral election.

Moody's Investors Service, the only rating agency asked to rate the bond issue, had expressed concerns about assigning a rating amid efforts to oppose the tax. However, the rating agency on Friday assigned an A rating to the bonds.

The city council approved the sales tax in a 5-to-2 vote in July after receiving approval from the Minnesota Legislature. The city began assessing the half-cent sales tax Sept. 1. Including a 6.5% state sales tax, the total sales tax in St. Paul is now 7%.

Meanwhile, the city council and the St. Paul Housing and Economic Development Committee, which are composed of the same members, are expected to approve the bond issue today, according to Anne Ostberg, spokeswoman for St. Paul Mayor James Scheibel.

The bond issue is scheduled to be underwritten by Dain Bosworth Inc., the sole underwriter. The firm plans to sell the bonds the first week of November.

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