This is an example of how TIF districts can fail and leave the public with a big bill effectively subsidizing development. The stormwater work needed to be done, but unfortunately because of a lack of insistence in smart growth principle citizens will likely end up pay the bills instead of those that profited from the development.
As City Administration and Finance staff have recently been reviewing the status of the various TIF Districts in the City, one thing I want to point out for informational purposes, relates to a likely shortfall of tax increments to be collected to cover the costs associated with the construction of stormwater improvements back in 2002, at the time this area was being developed.
By way of background, back in 2001, when the area was proposed for development and the TIF District was being considered, there were concerns expressed to City staff by both County Board members and neighborhood property owners regarding stormwater runoff issues in the Rose Harbor area. As a result, the City agreed to construct a stormwater facility south of 15th Street SE, and placed it in the 2002 CIP with a proposed cost of $300K. In reality, over $460K was expended for the stormwater improvements. The funding source was an interfund loan from the Flood Control account to the TIF District # 20-1, with collected tax increments used to reimburse the Flood Control account.
TIF District # 20-1 is a housing TIF District, which consists of 21 single family dwellings in Rose Harbor Estates, and the duration of which can be up to 25 years. At that time, staff felt that there may not be enough tax increments collected over the life of the district to cover all the stormwater related costs, but we didn’t have a good grasp as to how much we may be short, because at that time, the Legislature was making some tax class rate changes, and the market values of properties were escalating pretty rapidly.
Subsequently, the market values have flattened out and the city also has 10 years worth of tax increment collection behind us to help give us an idea of how much we may be short. Based upon our most recent amortization schedule calculations, it appears that there will be approximately $230K that the TIF District will be short at the end of its duration in 2028. This is 16 years out, but I wanted to make sure it is “on the radar” so to speak.
At the end of the TIF District duration, the City will likely need to transfer funds from a source such as the Stormwater Management Enterprise Fund to the TIF District, to cover the remaining portion of the interfund loan from the Flood Control account that funded these improvements back in 2002.
Tags: Accountability, Development, Taxes, Transparency
Posted in City Council | Comments (0)
Great note about our Rochester Fire Department!
Chief Martin, I am just writing you a thank you note for what one of a couple of your firefighters did. We were down in Rochester at Mayo for a procedure for my son who is 3 on Wednesday the 22nd. After his procedure we had to go over the Target off 41st Street. One of your truck pulled in behind us after we got my son out, who had already had a long day, and he saw the firefighters getting out of the truck. They stopped and could tell that he was not having the best day because he still had a tube coming out of his nose for a test that he was having. They stopped and went back to the truck to try and find him a sticker. They couldn’t find a sticker but instead found a stuffed animal for him. They also found a stuffed animal for my 8 mo old daughter. They also invited us to tour the station if we wanted. It was something that was able to put a little good in a very hard morning. I do not know who the 2 guys and 1 gal were but they should know that we really appreciated it and would like to say THANK YOU! Sincerely, XXX
Tags: public safety
Posted in Community | Comments (0)
Another sales tax message from Jerry Williams
Friends, Colleagues and Fellow Citizens:
While reading some material on leadership the other day,I was reminded of a statement I saw some years ago: “A business [or also inthis case a community] without a vision, has no future”…..or at least a very limited one. In other words, I view this½ cent sales tax renewal initiative as one way in which this community lays out for the next several years its vision about what it wants some areas of itsfuture to look like. So instead of sitting back and letting the future happen to it, the community is making a bold statement about moving forward, continuing the successful momentum derived from past local sales tax projects.
One way it has done that in the past and seeks to continue to do so in the future is in the area of education. Through past uses of the local sales tax, the community has made investments of over $28 million in higher education together at RCTC and UMR. There is no questionthat the $11.3 million of that amount to bring the University of Minnesota here was money well spent. This is a first-class health careers facility that has become a model of teaching and learning as well as local partnerships to advance its mission.
Enrollment this September in the undergraduate program is expected to be 525 students, and the economic impact is significant. For every 100 students, that’s a $2.5 million boost to our economy. The $14 million requested in this vote will be broken down into $10 million, which will be leveraged with other funds to construct an estimated $60 million core academic facility in the Broadway and First Avenue Southwest area and $4 million that will be used through public/private partnerships to construct additional support facilities to further UMR’s growth.
Another area that I’m very pleased is included is the addition of a Career and Technical Education Center (C-TECH) onto the Heintz Center at the University Center Rochester campus. This $6.5 million facility will provide a location for 10 – 12 grade students to begin to engage in hands-on vocational technical classes that conclude in licensing opportunities and entrance into the workforce. I’ve said to many groups: “As a forty-one year educator, I believe that every student who graduates from high school should go on to a post-high school education program, but not everystudent who graduates from high school needs to go into a baccalaureate degree program.”
C-TECH will provide a workforce-readiness program for those students who want this type of training. I also believe it will keep a lot of students from dropping out, give many of them a real purpose for going to school, provide great job potential and significantly delay the need for a fourth public senior high school in our community. Also enticing is that this facility is paid for with sales tax dollars rather than being put onto school property taxes. It’s a great educational opportunity to offer to an important part of our student population, and we can continue our commitment to education.
Other comments/questions that occasionally come to me:
- The total cost is too big. Well, we’re a big city that is getting bigger, and we have increasing needs. In the early 80’s when the local sales tax was initiated for flood control work,the population was about 58,000. The 2010 census has us at 106,769, and I’m sure it’s even larger now.
- The list of projects is too broad. Big cities and those that are getting bigger and want to have a strong quality of life have broad needs. We can’t just sit back, do nothing and pretend those needs don’t exist. That’sa head-in-the-sand mentality, which some espouse, and is not a vision for ourfuture.
For more information, check out the website: www.commoncentsrochestermn.com. Spread the word, feel free to forward this email to others, and ask them to support this effort by voting ‘yes.’
I’ll be back in a few weeks with another message andremember, It’sCommon Cents! Please Vote Yes!
Tags: education, sales tax
Posted in Community, Issues | Comments (0)
I love it when other people do work and I can just plagiarize it. Thank you to Randy Staver.
I have a couple of short items today I thought you’d like to be aware of.
- Stonehedge / Rocky Creek Signal Light:
You’re probably aware of the work that has been going on over the past few weeks to install a new traffic signal at the intersection of Rocky Creek / Stonehedge / Circle Drive East. That work is moving to the final stages to be completed before school starts.
Winkels Electric will be installing traffic signal poles and mast arms at the intersection on Tuesday, August 21st , 2012. Most of the work, on East Circle Drive NE, is expected to take place in the early morning hours, with work beginning around 5:00 AM, with all roadway closures on East Circle Drive being complete before 6:30 AM. During that time, short term roadway closures maybe encountered, while the signal mast arms are bolted to the traffic poles. Roadway closures are anticipated to last no more than 15 minutes for any direction. Various lane closures may occur throughout the day as other work is being complete.
- Forum: Working with Your City
Maybe your neighborhood has had an opportunity to work with the city as part of a larger development project. Or perhaps you’ve read about projects in other parts of the city. Either way, it can be an involved, confusing process if you’ve never gone through it before.
RNeighbors is hosting a community forum entitled ‘Working with Your City’ to be held on Wednesday, September 26th from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. It will be held in the Rochester Public Library auditorium and is free. A panel, consisting of members from planning, building safety, city attorneys office, city council and other areas, will first give a brief overview of their respective area as it relates to the process. Then, representatives from five neighborhoods will give an overview of a project that has happened or is happening. Included will be Badger Hills, Historic SW, Indian Heights, Kutzky Park North and Slatterly Park Neighbors. In each case we will have some dialogue about the process – what worked and what could have been improved. A nice opportunity to learn more about how these sorts of activities are handled in the city of Rochester.
Tags: public works, RNeighbors, Staver
Posted in City Council, Local Government | Comments (0)
I put up a post on Facebook and I got a few comments back on the topic of local businesses so I figured I would take a couple of minutes and elaborate.
Those of you that have connected to me on FourSquare know that I created a list of truly local businesses that I recommend. What I have certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but many great places. Here is what I look for on my list. The list is aimed at visitors to the city, and I have gotten feedback from visitors that they appreciated the list.
- Absolutely no big chains, this list is intended for local businesses. Some of these might be chains but are basically in the region.
- Don’t do naughty things. The property of local landlord Dennis Weestrand, who I fought last year and finally pressured into shutting down a house of prostitution and human trafficking, did not make the list. Though there are some great businesses who just lease from him (and help shut the aforementioned place down).
- Nothing against local franchises (I know some great local franchises like Great Harvest Bread) but this is to give truly local businesses an edge.
- The other side of the equation is have you have a corporation based locally, you get profits from elsewhere (thanks THINK, Mayo).
Local businesses keep money local.
- Corporate chains take profits from us back to where the corporate offices or large shareholders are. Further they are far less likely to use local suppliers, further taking money out of the community.
- Franchise fees also take money out of the community and frequently require supplies that are provided at a corporate level.
- Corporate advertising also take money that could be used in out community.
- Local affiliates also do little to help, while Charter Communications and CenturyLink may do some nice things in the community, the reality is the PROBABLY take a large net amount of dollars out of the community. I did pressure a rep from Charter Communications to provide me that number but he politely declined.
But being a local business does not make you infallible. On the City Council side we never want to make a poor decision based solely on someone being local. Lets say (entirely hypothetically) that we had a service provider that came in a distant last place in a multiparty competition judged by an independent committee and cost (oh I don’t know, lets say) $2 million more. It would be foolish to pick that company just because they were local. As a community leader my philosophy (where applicable) is that all things equal (or close) you chose the local company.
I do note the slight hypocrisy that was pointed out about my championing of the merger between Peoples Food and the Good Food Store Coops. In that case we are still community owned and I suspect that within 5 years Rochester residents will be the majority revenue base and owners of the coop. BTW, the new coop building going up is one of my proudest moments as a community leader. Much of the opposition has died down. The coop is being run better than ever. And one year from now we will have one of the most amazing coop facilities in the US.
There is my brain dump for the day.
Tags: buy local, Local Government
Posted in Community | Comments (0)
A number of cyclists will be leaving Rochester this Saturday from the Douglas Trail lot near Valleyhigh and West Circle Drive at 12:30. We will ride out to Pine Island to greet Dr. Ring and ride with her back to Rochester at about 2 PM. I will try to attend, and hope you can too.
Doctor bicycles across United States to warn of health dangers from climate change.
Tuesday July 2, 2012 BAYSIDE, CA- Doctor Wendy Ring, a 56 year old family physician, is riding a bicycle across the country this summer to talk to people about the health effects of climate change and the need to speed transition to renewable energy. Climate change is already affecting health in the United States; resulting in thousands of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths from a variety of respiratory, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases. Medical professional organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Practice have all issued warnings that climate change is harmful to the health of the American people and called for the rapid reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Doctor Ring and her husband are riding a tandem bicycle with camping gear across the northern states, giving talks at venues ranging from hospitals to house parties. They started from Oregon in July and aim to reach Washington DC by the end of September. Doctor Ring states: “I’m deeply concerned that our government is not responding to the alarms being sounded by the medical and scientific community with policies that go far enough or take effect fast enough to avert a public health catastrophe. Our country has the resources and technology to rapidly lower CO2 emissions but lacks the political will. In medicine there’s a time period called the Golden Hour, when care must be given to critically ill or injured patients if they are to survive. In the case of our planet, the Golden Hour is almost over and we still haven’t provided proper treatment. The International Panel on Climate Change and our own federal agencies such as NASA, the EPA, and the CDC predict that if we continue “business as usual”, global temperature will increase 7 to 11 degrees by the end of the century with drastic consequences for human health.”
“I’m not a climate scientist, but twenty five years as a family doctor have taught me how to translate science into plain English and help people make changes to improve their health. In the absence of leadership from above, citizens must organize from the bottom up and build a movement to demand government action. So, in the tradition of Paul Revere, my husband and I are riding around the country to wake people up to the danger we face and move clean energy to the top of our national agenda.”
Dr. Ring is a graduate of Yale and Columbia Universities and holds a Doctorate in Medicine and a Masters Degree in Public Health. Formerly the medical director of an innovative mobile clinic in rural northern California, she has been recognized by the California State Senate and Assembly, the House of Representatives, the US Senate, the California Medical Association, and the American Medical Association for her contributions to health care for the underserved. To learn if Dr. Ring will be in your area or invite her to speak in your community please contact Susan Brinton at above email address.
Arcata, CA 95521
Tags: Bike Paths, Environment
Posted in Community, Events | Comments (1)
FYI since I am quoted:
Sierra Club Applauds Public Health Victory in Rochester as Silver Lake Moves Beyond Coal
ROCHESTER, MN – In a victory for clean energy and clean air, Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) announced plans today to retire the dirty Silver Lake coal plant by the end of 2015. The plant’s retirement is a major victory for Minnesota’s economy and public health, as reducing the number of coal-fired power plants will both curb harmful emissions and pave the way for clean air and clean jobs in Rochester. The RPU’s decision to retire the Silver Lake facility comes as the plant faces pressure for putting soot and mercury into Rochester’s air and failing to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air health safeguards.
“This is part of a trend of victories for health and a clean energy future,” said Ray Schmitz, Rochester resident and Sierra Club member since 1972. “Dirty, old coal-fired power plants are no longer able to meet clean air safeguards and compete with clean energy sources like wind and energy efficiency.”
“As a community leader I care about the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of our community,” said Michael Wojcik, RPU board member. “This is a rare decision that can improve all three of these legs of sustainability. It is important to the health and financial well-being of Rochester families that the Rochester Public Utilities board makes the correct decisions for this facility.”
RPU’s Silver Lake facility is the latest in a string of 114 coal plants across the country to opt out of coal burning due to higher fuel costs and stronger health safeguards. Last year, Xcel Energy announced plans to stop burning coal at its Black Dog plant in Burnsville, MN and converted both its metro area coal plants – Minneapolis’s Riverside and St. Paul’s High Bridge – to natural gas in 2009. Dairyland Electric Coop announced retirements of three coal plants along the Mississippi River last month.
The cost to purchase coal to burn at Silver Lake is almost double Rochester Public Utility’s anticipated prices ($4.62 per mmBtu vs. $2.35 per mmBtu). The Silver Lake facility’s boilers have not been able to compete with natural gas and wind on the energy market and operated only 257 hours in 2011, compared to 16,665 hours in 2005. Despite its decreasing operation, the Silver Lake facility emitted dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide into the air in Rochester, putting residents at risk of asthma attacks, severe respiratory problems, lung disease and heart complications.
“This is very exciting news for Rochester families,” said Dr. Barbara Yawn, MD MSc, asthma expert and family physician at the Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester. “The decision to decommission the Silver Lake power plant meets both the health and economic needs of those living in and around our community.”
RPU faces less demand for energy than originally forecasted in part due to energy efficiency and conservation programs cutting more than 45 megawatts of projected energy needed over the past decade – the equivalent of the capacity at Silver Lake’s #4 coal boiler.
RPU will need to plan for new energy supply by 2030. Communities like San Antonio, TX are already demonstrating how smart investments can save ratepayers money while providing them with clean energy. CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal electric company, recently announced plans to build 400 MW of solar, and many utilities are considering expanding solar investments as the price of solar drops every year.
Tags: Environment, RPU
Posted in City Council | Comments (0)
As always I try to set the standard in transparency and make it a point to post my expense reports on my website. Here is the latest. I believe that I am still the only locally elected official in the region to do this. As my most loyal readers know I also frequently share discussion and information from conferences that I attend.
As has been the case all 4 years I have been in office, this year I will spend less on travel that the benefits that I give back to the city. As as an added bonus, you don’t get an uneducated councilman.
Edit: I had some comments that the previous link did not work. I was OK on my system. Here is another shot, but if you would like this document or any others you can email me as well.
Personal Expense 073012 (YEO CED)
Edit 2: I love that I get contacted a bunch of times by people that I don’t know when this is broke, readership justifies the effort.
Edit 3: Still not working, I asked my crack “staff” to take a look.
Tags: Accountability, Transparency
Posted in About Michael, City Council | Comments (0)
Here is a great article with picture that explanis how the build environment affects walk-ability and desirability.
Walk Appeal promises to be a major new tool for understanding and building walkable places, and it explains several things that were heretofore either contradictory or mysterious. It begins with the assertion that the quarter-mile radius (or 5-minute walk,) which has been held up for a century as the distance Americans will walk before driving, is actually a myth.
When people walk more, property values and economic activity go up while obesity and healthcare costs go down.
Tags: Pedestrians, urban design
Posted in Neighborhoods | Comments (0)
Regarding door-to-door solicitations
We have been alerted of several instances of people going door-to-door soliciting donations for Boys & Girls Club. We ask that you decline any door-to-door solicitations made by anyone claiming to represent Boys & Girls Club of Rochester. Our policy is that we do NOT solicit funds door to door. If you believe you are being scammed, please contact the police. We have made the Rochester Police Department aware of the situation.
If we do have fundraisers in public areas (if our teens’ Keystone Club holds a car wash, for example) you will be made fully aware of our involvement through staff presence, signage, receipts, or other methods to show you that your investment will be going directly to Boys & Girls Club of Rochester. If you want to find out more about us or any nonprofit organization, we recommend online resources like Charity Navigator or Charities Review Council to research nonprofits before giving. Charities Review Council has great information here on how to be an informed donor.
We are sorry and disappointed that Boys & Girls Club of Rochester is being misrepresented in this way. We hope that those of you who currently invest in Club will continue to do so with the utmost confidence in our organization. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. We are happy to share with you the great work we do for Rochester’s youth.
Jodi Millerbernd, Executive Director
On a personal note, anytime I have a door to door solicitor, I like to take a picture as I answer the door. Then if they do not have a solicitors license, it is easy for the police to end the practice.
Posted in Community, Issues | Comments (0)