City Services: I believe the core services to be police/fire, roads, sewers, storm-water runoff, water/electric, and the general administration that goes along with it. Planning both short and long term is also important to prevent tax-rate spikes. Many other services exist that enhance the community from parks and recreation trail systems to the many natural resources available. To manage these services, it is extremely important that we prioritize them and have an accurate gauge of the taxpayers’ willingness to fund these services and at what levels. I prefer taxpayer participation and approval via referendum for large none-core service expansions. I also support creative public/private funding partnerships and collaborations between governmental agencies to minimize duplication and reduce costs.
Transportation: Transportation is an important aspect to many facets of a community. Completed items include 17th Ave E. re-aligned to County 16, downtown Hwy 101 reconstruction, Hwy 21 from Southbridge to Hwy 42. Soon to be completed is the I-169/69 interchange in late 2013 or early 2014. Completion of Hwy 101 across river above flood plain, 2014. Vierling and Marshall Rd. intersection safety improvements. Marshall Rd. 4 lanes from 17th Ave to Hwy 42 in 2014. Valley View Rd extension from Sarazin Street to west of Marshall Rd. connecting to 17th Ave. County Road 16, 4 lanes from Hwy 83 to Hwy 18.
It's obvious that past and present councils, along with Scott County and the state, have been proactive in transportation improvements in Shakopee over the last 5 years. While highway construction causes inconveniences, we try to minimize the impacts recognizing the end results will be major improvements to you, as taxpayers, and the community's overall health and functionality at large. I am committed to continue seeking the other jurisdictional funds needed along with the planning processes required to continue getting our fair share of investment dollars our taxpayers paid back into our community’s systems.
Economic Development: Typically, a growing commercial/industrial tax base helps lower the cost to residential properties. Today, this is not the case. Currently, many new businesses are receiving tax abatement meaning they pay no new taxes for 9-15 years. So why would a city do this? Simple! We want the jobs and future taxes these businesses will eventually pay providing they stay around long enough. State law does not allow the city to require 10-20% of the jobs be filled by Shakopee citizens, and realistically, we have no guarantee anybody from Shakopee will get a job from our tax abatement processes. While some companies have opened their books to show a real assistance need for expansion, others have refused and still others have shown massive profits and still ask that Grandma foot the bill.
I am not opposed to tax abatement to grow our commercial industrial base, however, the taxpayers must receive a benefit as well as the business. I support a policy that helps those that show a need, a policy that requires a percentage of jobs go to our citizens, and a percentage of taxes that pay for core services so the general taxpayers are not paying more while receiving less. At a workshop June 25 2013, our current Mayor suggested the city buy the K-mart 1,000,000 square foot warehouse located on Hwy 83. Tear it down, and resale the land. I ask, who pays to purchase, who pays to demolish, and who pays the loss in current tax dollars received on the parcel? You do. I completely disagree with the proposal. The Mayor stated the city should buy properties on 1st Ave, leasing them back to the current businesses. This approach, as well, costs taxpayers the purchasing price, the lost taxation, the code updating expenses, and will result in higher leases, closed businesses, and demolishing expenses only to end up with a barren area in hopes of a future investor. This is a very expensive and risky use of your tax dollars not to mention a morally and constitutionally questionable approach. As I stated earlier, growing commercial/industrial base is good providing the taxpayers get a return on investment. I serve you the taxpayers not special interest or big business. We need a policy that makes sense for the taxpayers not the non-taxpayers.
Taxes: The absolute necessary evil. I was taught in school that anything over 33% taxation was communism. Today, we can't argue that because the tax bill is split between so many different governmental agencies that none of them takes over 33% but when added all together, its painfully well above 33%. My goal and commitment to you is to make sure the city portion of your tax bill is stable, reasonable, and justified. That we, as a city, do our very best to make sure a portion of your tax dollars that go to the state, county, and feds, comeback to our community in the form of cost sharing on projects, grants, and jurisdictional collaborations that reduce your taxes with the savings. A low stable tax rate helps families stay in their homes, gives them spending money to put back into the local economy, and helps homes for sale become sold. This should also apply to businesses. A low and stable tax rate should attract businesses without offering them no taxes for years. I am not anti-tax, I am opposed to wasting taxpayer money.
I would like to try a different approach, a calm, collected, experienced, common sense approach to placing the people we serve first in all decisions. Please consider voting a piece of yourself for Mayor. Vote Matt Lehman for Mayor.
This site prepared and paid for by Matt Lehman, 815 8th Ave. East, Shakopee, MN 55379