July 20, 2018

MINNETRISTA RESIDENTS WERE PRETTY CLEAR RESPONDING TO THE COMMUNITY SURVEY QUESTION ON COMPLETING THE GUN RANGE IN OUR PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING. OVERWHELMINGLY THEY DIDN’T WANT TAX DOLLARS SPENT ON IT but they did indicate support to finish it if grants or outside funding could be found. What the community survey didn’t tell them was how much the ongoing operation and maintenance expenses would be and where that money would come from. Would they have indicated support if they thought taxpayer dollars would be required for that? How about if they knew the operation and maintenance costs would, over time, be far more than the cost to build out the gun range?

One of the reasons I voted against spending close to $20K (an outrageous amount) on the community survey is it can be used to justify spending on things respondents aren’t fully informed about. The way a question is asked can make certain answers more probable. Leaving out negative information or only stressing benefits about something can quickly make survey results invalid.

I think everyone agrees it would be nice to have a gun range for officer training and public use donated to the city. But unless we can produce a business case showing the revenue from it would cover the ongoing operation and maintenance costs it would be irresponsible to complete it. Right now the city spends less than a couple hundred dollars annually on gun range fees for officer training due to a very generous arrangement it has with a local gun club.

This agenda item will be coming back to the city council soon and I hope we can all agree that the ongoing operation and maintenance costs must be covered 100% by user fees (or other non-taxpayer revenue) in order to approve any proposal to complete the gun range.