The Sales tax committee issued their final report. I think they did a pretty good job but also came to some pretty head scratching solutions. You can see their report here.
I noted at the time of the formation of this committee that the makeup would not be reflective of the council or the community. When we make our decisions 4 council members will have a majority 57% of the vote. The way that the committee was structured, those same 4 council members had 33% of the input. Further some appointments were clearly political and aimed at appeasing certain interests.
I specifically pick my appointment, Chris Flood (and then begged him to do it) because he was independent and would not be tied to any one interest or project. Plus he is smart and asks tough questions, which I like and the Rochester Area Builders thinks requires an apology…
Here are a few things where i though their recommendations were just silly.
1) The advisers put huge dollars into destination medical community and downtown development but didn’t even think to fund the sewer project that is required for this to happen. Our sewer fund is essentially broke because it is being used to fund 80 Million in sewer subsidies for developers.
2) They ignored the most heavily used and overcrowded facility in the city, our Library. I hope the council had the foresight to fix this error.
3) They rated the new airport terminal project highly. This is absurd, the rational seems to be, it is old therefore we should just replace it. The reality is we have 6 gates of which rarely more than 2 are in simultaneous use. Also there is NO reason to expect that our air traffic is going to increase anytime in the near or even more distant future. Currently we serve a small 20,000 passengers a month. As we improve connections to the twincities via rail this will decrease not increase. This project makes no sense at all.
There were some smart investments proposed. I personally remain opposed to building a $10 million interchange so that we can build a Menard’s and increase our 30 plus year supply of existing developable land, but this may pass.
Overall, the group did a good job, but the influence of some particular lobbies was too great and led to some silly recommendations. I don’t want to bring a list of mediocre projects to the voters that will ultimately decide the fate of these projects.