Excessive Bloomington Franchise Fees "Tax" Everyone

In Part 1 of our coverage of Bloomington’s newly-imposed gas and electric franchise fees, we wrote that Bloomington has justified these fees based on a projected shortfall in city revenue for street and trail maintenance. The projected 2016 shortfall was $550,000.  The City expects that the annual income from the fees will be $4.9 million. 

road-703804__180.jpgThe Bloomington city government had estimated street and trail maintenance costs at around $1.5 Million this year and $2.3 Million for 2017.  The City appears to be anticipating an exponential increase in street and trail maintenance costs, even though the key raw material in pavement repair is petroleum.    A review of the City’s cost projections appeared to be based on historically high petroleum costs.  Those costs have now dropped, but the City staff was unable to indicate what the impact of those lower costs would be on their projections.

The City’s Pavement Management Program has previously covered a majority of these estimated costs (the street maintenance portion).   However, the City is not offering any property tax reduction in light of the significantly higher income anticipated from the franchise fees.  Rather, the City is simply saying that property taxes will now not need to be raised as much as might otherwise have been required.

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Gas Tax? We All Need Good Roads

DFL targets metro drivers for $300 yearly tax increase

gas_pump_handle.jpgProposed new taxes would cost the typical metro driver an additional $24.50 a month (almost $300 per year), according to the Star Tribune. The Dayton/DFL transportation plan raises taxes by $11 billion over 10 years.

A new 6.5% gas tax would increase as the price of a gallon of gas increases. One-half of one percent would be added to our metro sales tax for transit. 

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Bloomington Imposing Franchise Fees for Road and Trail Maintenance

Everyone wants well-maintained roads and public walkways. The support for bike trails, while not universal, is vocal and gaining some popularity.  So you would think that these services might be a priority use of current Bloomington tax funds.

However, you’d be wrong.  The Bloomington City Council recently singled out a specific portion of Bloomington street Bloomington_St_Maint_1.pngmaintenance (street overlays) and all of its trail maintenance for new funding above and beyond the current city budget.  They decided to impose a flat monthly $3.75 per meter /address “city franchise fee” on both Xcel Energy (electricity) and CenterPoint Energy (natural gas) bills, starting in March 2016. These get directly passed along on the billing statements, so this adds up to $90 more per household (more for businesses, churches or nonprofits) per year in taxation hidden as a fee.  

Say, What??  Those new “franchise fees” that will be added to your gas and electric bills have got nothing to do with natural gas or electricity production or delivery of services.  They are a tax increase masquerading as a utility fee.

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Max Rymer Supports a Trash Collection Referendum in Bloomington

By Max Rymer

"Trash Hauling in Bloomington" - now there's a phrase I didn't think would come out of my mouth in any serious manner.

But serious is exactly what's happening right now. Bloomington's City Council, in essence, is deciding for its people that garbage hauling should be left in the hands of city and state governments.

Without the voice of the people in the form of referendum, or the possibility of choosing a type of garbage hauling service from the many capable small businesses that could do it, the Bloomington City Council has decided it will make the choice for its people.

This means: your voice is being silenced within your own community, government is attempting to overtake another role of small business (in a less efficient or cost-effective way, undoubtedly), and - potentially - you will be forced to patronize a single multi-region or multi-state hauler chosen by the city council. Not you.

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Does Edina's Grandview Development need TIF?

Congratulations, Edina.  Your taxes have been increased, again, by a secretive and anti-democratic administrative mechanism known as Tax Increment Financing (TIF).  Like public financing for all of our local sports stadiums, TIF allows public funds to be paid to the few, mostly large corporations, by the many, in this case the tax-payers of Edina.  Earlier this month, the Edina City Council voted to grant a future developer of the Grandview site a get-out-of-tax-free card for a minimum of 26 years.

A bit of background about TIF is in order.  The concept of TIF has been around since the late 1960’s but was first codified in Minnesota in 1979.  The concept began benignly enough: encourage the development of environmentally or economically “blighted” property through the use of tax incentives for the developer.  The original idea was that an inner city property owner would use tax funds to clean up contaminated property and would then return the formerly blighted property to the tax rolls, resulting in a net increase of taxes. 

Sadly, the idea has been so twisted and abused by city governments like Edina that it bears little resemblance to its original purpose. 

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Primary or Caucus? How about both?

The record-setting turnout at caucuses around the state has people talking about changing Minnesota’s system to hold an all-day Presidential Preference Primary vote.  MN Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey wrote a thoughtful article last week outlining the benefits of having both a primary and the caucuses.I_VOTED_graphicjpg.jpg

For SD49, our caucuses this year were crucial to connecting with interested voters and volunteers.  More than 1500 voters attended a SD49 caucus for the first time. This included dozens of voters new to our area.  They got to meet neighbors who agree with their GOP Principles.  

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Is a Referendum on Organized Trash Collection a Lost Cause?

Bloomington Council Ignores Petitions, Proceeding Without Vote

In its February 11 edition, the Bloomington Sun Current reported that the “effort to put [organized trash collection] to a vote of the city’s residents appears to have been a lost cause.”

This statement may be a bit premature.  The reporting was certainly incomplete.

The Bloomington City Council adopted its organized trash collection ordinance in mid-December on a simple vote of the city council members.  By the City Charter, residents had 30 days to petition the city to put the question to a vote of citizens.  Less than 1,250 signatures were required; approximately 1,400 were collected prior to the deadline. 

On January 15, a representative of the petition drive met with the City Clerk to discuss the Charter requirements and to review and turn in the petition. The clerk did a cursory review and indicated that the petition forms looked good and the quantity of signatures looked sufficient.

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Letter from Erik Paulsen on the 2016 State of the Union Address

January 15, 2016

Tuesday was a historic day for our country - it was the final State of the Union address by Barack Obama.

We are all aware of the disastrous impact of the President's tenure on America's leadership and our economy - it's real and significant. There is a decline in the belief of the American Idea. Today, only 27 percent of Americans believe that their children or future generations will achieve the American Dream.

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Racism in Schools is Overstated

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By Mitch Pearlstein ** November 8, 2015

I won't say it doesn't exist.  I will say that an excessive focus on it is an obstacle in addressing very real achievement issues.

When people say they believe a particular institution is racist, or are convinced that they their children or others have been treated unfairly for reasons of color --by educators or the police or anyone else -- I'm in no position to disagree with what's in their hearts.  My history is not theirs; their shoes are not mine, and if that is what they sincerely believe, that is what they sincerely believe.

What I can do, however, if I disagree with their views about the presence or power of race in particular situations, is to explain, with full appreciation for centuries of sinful American history, why I believe their arguments are faulty on the facts or excessive in gravity.

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Early Learning Scholarships vs. Universal Pre-K: Addressing the Education Gap

Special Report ** November 14, 2015

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”  -Vladimir Lenin

Like Comrade Lenin, Governor Dayton understands that the key to controlling the hearts and minds of Minnesotans to is control education and that the longer the government can control education, the “better”.  In that vein, Governor Dayton, with the committed support of SD49 Senator Melisa Franzen and Representatives Paul Rosenthal and Ron Erhardt, has been working tirelessly to expand the size and scope of Minnesota’s government, insisting that we all provide what he calls “free” education to younger and younger Minnesotans.  Governor Dayton, of course, prefers to claim that he is trying to close the “achievement gap” and that he is doing it “for the children.” In truth, he and his legislative minions are trying to move Minnesota even closer to Lenin’s paternalistic dream of cradle to grave big government.   

In 2014, the legislature, at Governor Dayton’s urging, voted to dramatically expand the role of government in the lives of our children by providing “free” all-day Kindergarten for all Minnesota children.  Previously, Minnesota families had the option to choose either all-day or half-day Kindergarten for their children and only 54% chose to send their children to all-day Kindergarten.  Beginning in 2014, the first year of implementation, our Big Government liberals took away this choice, herding all of Minnesota’s children into all-day Kindergarten.  In 2014 these new mandates drove 99.6 percent of all Minnesota Kindergarteners into all-day Kindergarten.  Governor Dayton is very proud of this, as are his supporters in the education unions.

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