A big thank you to all the Minnetrista residents that came out to the party caucuses last night! A special shout out to all the conveners, those that volunteered at the high school and middle school, and those elected as delegates and precinct officers. It was great to see so many in our community that want to be involved!
Yes, there are caucuses tonight for Minnetrista! Below are the major party caucus locations for Minnetrista, February 25, 2020 at 7pm. If you’re not sure which precinct you’re in look it up here (or click above caucus finder) so you can find your room. There are usually people at the door to point you to your precinct room.
Minnetrista DFL Caucus: Mound Westonka High School, 5905 Sunnyfield Road E, Minnetrista, MN 55364
Minnetrista GOP Caucus: Grandview Middle School, 1881 Commerce Blvd., Mound, MN 55364
Delegates will be chosen for upcoming party conventions to endorse various candidates for state and congressional offices. Get involved!
The politicization of the Minnetrista city council meetings are in full swing. Mayor Whalen, in an unprecedented breech of civil decorum, decided to turn the February 18
council meeting into a political attack on her opponent for the Minnetrista mayoral seat by reading a personal blog post outlining why the Minnetrista 2020 election is important. Yes, this was at a public council meeting, paid for by taxpayers, to attack a political opponent. I’m not making this up.
First, I should thank the mayor for sharing the blog post and giving it more visibility. The fact our city is being run by outside interests is real. What is more disturbing, however, is how anyone expressing an opinion that differs from those outside interests is targeted.
These past months I’ve had personal social media accounts disabled twice because of pressure from these interests that donated to the mayor’s previous election campaign. I’ve had to fight battles to have official minutes reflect what actually occurred instead of what these interests wanted in the public record. Outright blatant lies have been circulated in the community alleging illegal campaign contributions on my part that never happened. I’m sure there is more to come.
It appeared the most troubling aspect of the post, to the mayor, was about “instilling a service-oriented culture” at city hall. Apparently she doesn’t feel a need to address that and didn’t like hearing that people in the community do.
I’ve always tried to “leave my stuff at the door” when I attend council meetings. Council meetings are for getting the work of the city done, not to intimidate or shame those you disagree with. Using a public forum, paid for by taxpayers, is an inappropriate venue to wage political warfare. But apparently not in Minnetrista.
I’ve been meeting with residents in Minnetrista neighborhoods over the last several weeks and invariably someone always asks “What’s so important about this year’s city election?” The answer: Outside interests are running the city and none of them live or pay taxes here in Minnetrista. Outside consultants, contractors, vendors and organizations put pressure on the council to serve their interests ahead of yours. Consequently, taxes go up every year and will continue at an even faster pace going forward. We are growing and have important decisions coming up next year that impact your property rights, taxes, fees and freedoms.
I am also hearing from residents frustrated in their dealings with the city as they seek permits, variances, or access to information. Rather than having an excellent experience they often leave irritated and angry. Instilling a service oriented culture at city hall is important for residents to be treated with respect and for staff to understand their purpose is to serve the community. Unlike private sector businesses that know their survival depends on treating customers well, public sector organizations can become complacent knowing their “customer” has nowhere else to go.
The November election in Minnetrista is of paramount importance to every Minnetrista resident. Unlike the national elections where partisan politics divide the country, every Minnetrista resident can agree that outside interests should not continue running our city.
There is a big risk factor looming in November that could profoundly impact the direction of our economy. Minnetrista will be relying on revenues coming from current and future water users to finance a new $2.3M water tower in the southern sector and while we’ve been enjoying a robust growth period with a booming housing market, what if all that comes to a halt? We’ve seen what happened in 2008 and elections are known to impact the economy in profound ways.
The city council has heard from financial consultants, engineering firms, and staff urging
the city to act now but none of them are Minnetrista taxpayers. They are stakeholders benefiting, directly or indirectly, from issuing the bond, constructing the tower, or growing the city’s debt and size of the city’s budget. That’s just a fact, but an important fact to consider. They are all competent and good at what they do but their interests are, understandably, their interests.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to build the water tower and we need to do it soon. Our growth numbers show that by 2030, if growth continues at the current rate, we won’t be able to service the southern sector adequately. But it takes about 2 years to get a water tower online and there is no imminent crisis, despite what some stakeholders may assert.
There are two possible ways, with some very important differences, to finance this project. The council, however, was advised Monday night to consider only the first:
- General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds – Pledge the full faith & credit of the city and require the city to use whatever means possible, including increasing the citywide tax levy, to cover the debt. These are called “General” obligation bonds because they are typically used to finance projects that benefit the general community at large, not just a sector of it. In this case, however, this project only benefits city water users. With a G.O. bond the entire Minnetrista tax base assumes the risk of whether our housing growth and associated water revenue increases at a sufficient rate to cover the bond.
- Revenue Bonds – Finance income-producing projects and are secured by a specified revenue source, in this case water fees and new connection charges. A revenue bond would rely solely on the revenue coming from water fees to pay for the bond without putting the “full faith & credit” of all Minnetrista taxpayers on the line. That means the city would not be required to increase the tax levy to cover the debt if, for any reason, future water fees weren’t enough. Revenue bonds put the risk on the investor purchasing the bonds rather than all Minnetrista property owners, regardless of whether they’re on city water.
My preference was to hold off on authorizing the bond issuance until after the November elections when the risk associated with our growth projections might be better understood. If it appears the economy will remain on track going forward, a G.O. bond may be a good option then. Considering the economic uncertainly that lies ahead I am not comfortable pledging the full faith and credit of the entire city on a G.O. bond today. A revenue bond wouldn’t do that and is the only responsible choice today, in my opinion, to protect Minnetrista property owners.
Unfortunately the council succumbed to the pressure and voted 4-1 Monday night to pass a resolution (pg 57) amended to provide for the sale of $2.5M in G.O. bonds ($2M for the tower; $500K for CIP) with plans to award the sale of the G.O. bonds on March 9, 2020.
I’ll need to update this debt chart:
*The narrative in this post is publicly available by viewing the Monday 2/3/2020 council meeting video and listening to the 2/3/2020 work session recording.
I think some clarification is in order here.
Mayor Whalen states on her new blog “When determining our levy one of the things we look at is growth. The County Assessor estimated that we saw a 2.0% – 2.5% overall new home growth. If you subtract that from the final levy increase (over 2019) of 5.66% it leaves an increase of approximately 3.2%-3.7%”
That’s assuming, incorrectly, that for every percent in growth the city needs a 1:1 ratio increasing the tax levy. That’s simply not true. First, the 2-2.5% referenced here is the increase in the city’s total market valuation from new homes, not the number of new homes built. That could be a very small number of expensive homes or a lot of inexpensive homes. There is no correlation between market valuation increases and a need for higher taxes.
The tax levy should only be increased because of increased costs (plus inflation) due to growth, not simply because of market valuation increases. Theoretically you could have one home built that accounts for the entire 2% growth…which wouldn’t justify any tax levy increase at all. I’m not implying that is the case, just using an example that makes the point.