Longtime Grand Forks politician and now a columnist for the Grand Forks Herald Eliot Glassheim joins us to talk (1) Federal Assistance after disasters and the requirements that need to go with that aid, (2) what “regular order” means in Congress, (3) the challenge that Senator Heidi Heitkamp ahead of her as she seek reelection to the US Senate and (4) his frustration at the Grand Forks City Council’s decision to have only one polling station for the November 2017 Sales Tax vote.
It’s budget season for municipalities and the City of Grand Forks published their FY 2018 Budget this past week. Dana Sande joined us to discuss the good and the bad of what is a challenging budget due to contracting revenues and infrastructure bills that are piling up. The President of the Grand Forks City Council discusses the decision not to fully fund the City’s Personnel budget and the ongoing discussion with citizens about the upcoming Sales Tax vote.
Sande is candid about the limited options that the Council has if the proposed Sales Tax initiative fails, with water rates and property taxes being the logical tools to service the infrastructure debt that the City will need to service in the upcoming years. A “Road Utility Tax” another option.
Grand Forks City Councilman Bret Weber was a strong advocate for raising the mil levy one half of one mil in order to fully fund the City’s FY 2018 Personnel Budget, a motion which failed on a 6-0 vote; we’ll talk about his rationale for the increase and why he think it failed in such an overwhelming way.
Speaking of mil increases, we’ll also discuss options the Council will have if the proposed Sales Tax measure fails at the ballot box in November, here are three:
(1) Do nothing additional with infrastructure; additional funding for the new water treatment plant collected from water rate increases
(2) Put “band aids” on infrastructure and levy those mils via the property tax; additional funding for the new water treatment plant collected from water rate increases
(3) Fully fund infrastructure mil requirements via the property tax; additional funding for the new water treatment plant collected from water rate increases
Keith Lund is the President & CEO of the Grand Forks EDC; he joined us to talk about an economic development deal that was brought to the Grand Forks City Council — J.R. Simplot’s construction of a new freezer facility north of Gateway Drive, set to open in 2019. He explains the benefits to the City of Grand Forks as well as the costs.
Todd Feland is the City Administrator of Grand Forks, he joined us to discuss and footnote key elements of Mayor Mike Brown’s Sales Tax increase proposal which was unveiled Monday night.
Todd walks us through the plan for infrastructure, to include 42nd St and 47th Ave South, the Plan for Reserves, the plan for existing infrastructure and the plan for use of both mils and sales tax revenue that is currently servicing permanent flood protection debt that goes away in 2021.
We also discuss the Mayor and Council’s alternatives if the sales tax is no approved. If you care to be part of an informed debate on the Sales Tax issue, you must listen to this.
My former Grand Forks City Council colleague Terry Bjerke joined the program to talk the prospects of a new sales tax discussion in Grand Forks. Terry is no stranger to the the details of this discussion and walks us through what he believes to be the basics of the any substantive discussion on additional revenue for the City:
ASSUMPTION: Declining City Sales Tax Revenue & declining State Infrastructure Funding will both return to “historically normal” levels within five years
REVIEW & DEFINE RESERVES HELD IN THE FOLLOWING ACCOUNTS: Loan & Stabilization, Economic Development, JDA, Cash Carryover
DEFINE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS TO BE FUNDED: a finite prioritized list of those projects to be funded by additional taxes levied on the citizens of Grand Forks
With these fiscal pieces in place, Terry believes an empirically based debate can be held on the size and length of additional taxes that the City may need to levy on the citizens of Grand Forks.
Todd Feland, City Adminstrator for the City of Grand Forks joined us to talk about the City’s “Parks & Open Space Plan” in the wake of Jonathan Holth’s call for Grand Forks to create a Grand Plan for art in downtown Grand Forks.
Feland outlines what the City is doing currently which will be presented to the Committee of the Whole this coming Monday evening.
Dana Sande, President of the Grand Forks City Council, is concerned about the situation the City of Grand Forks finds itself in financially as a result of a decrease in State funding of infrastructure combined with a declining City Sales Tax. The Bottom Line – there are dark clouds on the horizon for every local government in the state.
In a pointed interview as the vote on Arbor Park gets under way, Sande expressed frustration over what he believes are falsehoods about the “standard Renaissance Zone incentives” that apply to the Ritterman project that could be built in Arbor Park if approved and emphasized the importance of this vote for much needed tax revenue and as a message to developers that Grand Forks is business friendly.
Steven Schadler was a Grand Forks Park District Horticulturist from 1988 trough 2002. He joins us to discuss the history of Arbor Park, its significance to those who built it and his estimate of the “cost” of moving Arbor Park.
Schadler also discusses his views as a horticulturist on how the City handled the move of Memorial Park when it was moved due to a development and his opinion of what today’s downtowns need to be vibrant.