5.66% Increase in Minnetrista’s final tax levy for 2020

Minnetrista’s city council passed the final 2020 tax levy Monday night, increasing the levy 5.66% from the previous year, on a 4-1 vote. At our work session prior to the meeting I asked the council to consider using the unanticipated higher revenue from the city’s building permits to off-set the levy increase but the answer was a unanimous no. Despite a 43% general fund reserve (healthy by any standard) the council chose to apply the savings to the general fund reserve increasing it to 47%. I was the dissenting vote on the motion to pass the levy increase.

There are other reasons I dissented. Minnetrista has a backwards budgeting process where staff essentially submits a budget to the council and the council usually approves it without much modification. Generally we are given two or three budget options with varying increases (I’ve never seen an option without an increase that is far above our growth rate even considering inflation) and the council chooses one of the options as the preliminary tax levy in September and then adopts the final levy in December, which may vary slightly when year end projections are more certain.

In the private sector, as in many cities throughout the country, the budgeting process is different and begins with submitting the prior year’s budget and then justifying the increases, line by line, before adoption. That has not been the process in Minnetrista and there has been considerable resistance to the idea that it should be. How else can the council responsibly vote to support a tax levy if it doesn’t know what the justifications are behind all the increases? I’d like to see a budget committee comprised of two council members established to do this.

The budgeting process in Minnetrista needs to start out assuming every line-item increase, which isn’t just inflationary, needs justification. Until that happens I will be voting no, as I have in the past, on the city’s tax levy.

 

Shannon Bruce announces bid for Mayor of Minnetrista

I announced my bid for Mayor of Minnetrista today. Please visit www.ShannonBruceForMayor.com to learn how you can get involved in Minnetrista’s future. It’s in your hands. Here is the official announcement below:

Council member Shannon Bruce announces candidacy for Minnetrista Mayor
Bruce pledges to bring a customer service culture back to city hall and end Minneapolis-style top-down governance

Minnetrista Council Member Shannon Bruce announced her candidacy for Mayor on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, citing a need to restore trust in city leadership and refocus city hall on serving local residents.

“Far too often I see decisions being made at city hall without considering long term rubber stampconsequences to residents. Unelected officials from Minneapolis/St. Paul want to tell us how to run our city, and Minnetrista needs a mayor that puts Minnetrista first and won’t rubber stamp their agendas. Under my leadership, I will work with the council to protect our community from decisions that will lead to heavier traffic, more crime in our neighborhoods, higher fees and property taxes” said Bruce.

“I will refocus city government on its core responsibilities: public safety, roads, infrastructure, and zoning. Unfortunately, as a council member I’ve seen taxpayer dollars wasted and special treatment given to vendors and outside interests. As mayor, I pledge to put an end to special vendor relationships and will require open bidding for all significant city contracts, regardless of whether state statutes demand it.

“Minnetrista is a growing community, so we need to have an open dialogue with residents about their needs and adopt an attitude of customer service at city hall. Whether it’s responding to a 911 call, paving roads, or helping a property owner navigate a variance, Minnetrista residents deserve to have an excellent experience every time.”

Bruce also cited election integrity as a reason for running for mayor. The current Minnetrista mayor, Lisa Whalen, was sanctioned earlier this year for violating campaign finance laws. A three-judge panel ruled in June that Whalen’s arrangement with the Our Minnetrista political committee had “corrupted the political process,” in Minnetrista’s elections.

Website: www.ShannonBruceForMayor.com
Email: sbruce@ShannonBruceForMayor.com
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“Windfall” your money or Mound’s?

I serve on both the Mound Fire and St. Boni fire advisory commissions that provide fire service to the city of Minnetrista. Since the Mound fire station was built in 2004 Minnetrista taxpayers have been helping to pay off the bond taken out to build it. Minnetrista annually pays approximately $68K to the city of Mound who will be making their last annual payment of $283K on that debt in 2022.

raining moneyAt the November 20 Mound Fire Commission meeting (Mayor Whalen also serves on the Mound Fire Commission), this money was referred to as a “windfall” amounting to $283K per year that Mound’s supported cities need to decide how, or if, to spend going forward. There appeared to be a presumption at the meeting that the cities would keep remitting their shares of the annual bond payment, even after the bond is retired. This item will be on the January Mound Fire Commission agenda to decide how to allocate this “windfall” and whether or not to spend it on equipment, replenish general fund reserves, or other administrative costs.

I had requested this be put on our December 2 city council agenda for our entire council to weigh in on this decision since this is a significant amount of money ($68K annually x forever). Below is the email I sent to our city administrator (emphasis added in bold). He did not put it on the agenda and suggested, before doing so, that the other council members need to decide if they think this “warrants further discussion.” I, personally, believe this is a decision that belongs to the Minnetrista city council, not the Mound Fire Commission.

From: Shannon Bruce
Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2019 9:16 AM
To: Mike Barone
Subject: URGENT Agenda item for December 2 – Mound Fire $283K bond debt retirement

Hi Mike,

I think the council needs to weigh in on what Minnetrista’s direction to Mound Fire is going to be on the “windfall” resulting from the retirement of the annual $283K building bond payment in 2023. We need to give Mound direction at our January Fire Commission meeting and I’d like to request this be an agenda item for our December 2 council meeting so we can all be on the same page when we respond. This is a significant amount of money especially since it isn’t just a one-time windfall but could continue indefinitely. I also think it’s important it be an agenda item rather than a work session simply because of the significance. Here are some of the options to present to the council:

1) Retire the debt but keep Minnetrista’s future payments the same (allowing Mound Fire to use the annual windfall indefinitely for future CIP, Fire Dist organizational costs, other needs etc.);

2) Retire the debt and reduce Minnetrista’s portion going forward (Mound Fire would need to ask for additional CIP/Fire Dist org costs, other future needs);  

3) Allow using a portion of the first year’s windfall to replenish Mound Fire’s reserves that have been used in anticipation of the coming windfall but otherwise reduce Minnetrista’s portion going forward; or

4) Allow using a portion of the first year’s windfall to pay for Fire District organization costs in addition to replenishing Mound Fire’s reserves but otherwise reduce Minnetrista’s portion going forward.

There are, of course, other combinations of the above we may arrive at but because of the significance I think it’s important to have a vote on this.

Thanks,
Shannon

Minnetrista on top 10 list of safest MN cities, but will we stay there?

We learned at our council meeting Monday night that Minnetrista is #6 on the list of top 10 safest cities in Minnesota according to the FBI’s uniform crime report analyzed here. Aside from an error in our population count (shows we’re over 10,000) the analysis confirms why people want to live in Minnetrista and being safe is up there on everyone’s list.

One of the reasons for our low crime rate is the fact our population is spread out over a large geographical area and we don’t have the density that’s found in cities with higher crime rates. Our population is more educated and our median home values are higher than many of the cities lower on the list. Our public safety department does a great job too.

bad guyLet’s hope Minnetrista can resist the pressures of unelected influences (Met Council, League of Minnesota Cities, MN Dept of Housing) pushing for higher density housing in Minnesota cities that will most assuredly affect not only our crime rate but our traffic volume as well. Minnetrista doesn’t have many options for accommodating more traffic as our land is constrained by lakes and waterways with new or widened routes being all but impossible. High density housing, crime and traffic are things to avoid, not invite.

Minnetrista is a special place, a safe place to raise a family where most people feel comfortable taking an evening walk down a trail without a can of mace in their hand. That could all change.

 

 

 

 

Conflict of interest? Maybe?

WAKE UP MINNETRISTA
Wake up Minnetrista!

CONFLICT OF INTEREST? Ya think? Do you think this guy should be advising the city of Minnetrista on our Comprehensive Plan and the Met Council’s GreenStep cities program? Do you think, maybe, that WSB, the city’s contract engineering firm, might be the company to manage the “best practices” projects recommended by this “green new deal” effort led by unelected officials? Wake up Minnetrista.

consultant linkedin

Only in Minnetrista

Only in Minnetrista can a discussion take place during a council work session and have the minutes actually state the discussion didn’t occur. Trigger warning to “Our Minnetrista” members. Watch your city council in action attempting to leave a back door open for the Met Council to bring the GreenStep cities program back into Minnetrista. During the meeting I honestly couldn’t understand what was going on it was so bizarre. Don’t underestimate the control unelected people in this community have on this council and Minnetrista’s future. The doublespeak and obfuscation is palpable. For your entertainment (approx. 4 min):

Council GreenStep discussion

Minnetrista’s 2040 Comprehensive plan was being discussed, or addressed, or not discussed or not addressed below:

work session minutes.png

Thank you!

I want to publicly thank the many individuals who have reached out to me over the past few days concerning the vicious, libelous attacks from the “Our Minnetrista” political committee. Please understand these attacks are merely revenge over the group being caught at corrupting our city elections. They lost their case in court and now must discredit the person that exposed them. Most of you know better than to believe a group that cheated to win, were taken to court and sanctioned for it. I’m sure the attacks will continue as this election year approaches but at least their tactics have been exposed and that’s a good thing for Minnetrista. Thank you all for your kind, encouragement.