Per this memo from Richard Freese, the 65th street interchange is essentially dead in 2012. Of course, since I see this as unneeded pork that takes away from the real needs at 55th street, I am just fine with that. My prediction is that just as the $82 million that taxpayers spent on 40th and 48th Streets South failed to produce a net increase of jobs, so too will this boondoggle fail. Sure there will be new jobs, but just as sure jobs will be eliminated elsewhere.
Because the Minnesota state legislature including several local legislators saw fit to micromanage the local proposals, we will be unable to have a vote for a continuation of the sales tax in 2011 and must wait until November of 2012. Every local option sales tax that has ever been put to the voters of Rochester has passed by overwhelming margins.
Because of the delay in voting, projects that might have completed in 2012 will not be considered until 2013. 65th street is one example. We may also see higher construction costs as a result. There is not a chance that this will go forward unless some other level of government is paying. While there might be a state bonding request, the Mayo Civic Center renovation remains our #1 bonding priority.
There was a request made at a recent meeting for us to try to fund the $12 million project without sales tax. The irony is that this is the same meeting the council choose not to fund a $23,000 request for our community owned Art Center. So the message was clear. We can’t find $23,000 for public art, but lets find $12 million for developer pork.