In the coming years, the City of Minnetonka will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s City Council and mayoral candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- How should Minnetonka balance fiscal responsibility with the need to provide quality city services?
I believe the city has an excellent track record on being fiscally responsible, providing great services at a good value to our residents and businesses. The effort we take in doing long term planning including the ability to repave or reconstruct our city streets, when needed, without specially assessing those costs is a major value to our citizens that they typically are not aware of unless they were hit with a high special assessment in the community that they moved from. I would focus on maintaining the current approach to fiscal planning.
Minnetonka’s City staff has implemented long term planning with strong fiscal responsibility under the direction of the City Manager. Our parks are on a funded renewal schedule. The recent remodeling of Williston Center resulted in increased membership numbers. I reviewed the City’s budget proposal and I believe that Minnetonka is providing services with value. Some opportunities may exist for increased value or better utilization of existing services. The new food court area in the Ice Arena is a wonderful example of a revalued use of public space. The Lindbergh Center’s memberships may be an area that is currently underutilized.
At Large Seat A
I will continue to challenge City staff to look toward “zero based budgeting”, i.e. examine each department and program and assess it’s value compared to it’s cost. It is in this way that I can balance fiscal responsibility with the quality of City services which our citizens receive.
Minnetonka has been for very good at balancing as demonstrated in part in the recent Preliminary Levy and Budget. Services for the most part are good. Roads, roads and roads are the subject brought up more than other issues as I talk to city residents during my campaign. Farmers Almanac predicts we are going to have a very snowy winter so look forward to a big plowing bill plus more road damage by spring. Residents recognize the need to address these issues realistically and fairly especially when they are handled well and communication is good.
At Large Seat B
I believe it is important to adequately address the needs of all of our citizens while continuing our city’s tradition of strong fiscal responsibility. For 2013 Minnetonka enacted one of the lowest property tax levy increases among comparable cities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, while our city services continue to be some of the most highly rated by our residents as surveyed in the Minnetonka community survey and compared metro-wide. Our city has also been successful at leveraging partnerships with outside agencies and organizations to accomplish more than we could with just our city’s resources. As your city council member, I will continue managing our limited dollars responsibly while maintaining our excellent city services.
The quality of service provide by government has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. No matter what service is being provided by city government, Minnetonka residents should expect and receive quality service.
One of the reasons I am running for City Council is to bring a common sense approach to non-essential spending. I’m troubled by how often our city leaders portray themselves as offering a budget that reveals fiscal austerity when in fact over the last 10 years, Minnetonka’s city budget has shown year over year increase to its expenses and taxes. This is not fiscal austerity.
If elected I promise to bring the energy to tackle our budget challenges. City leaders recently cited that this year’s tax increases were partly the result of a growing pension program. We cannot keep increasing taxes while refusing to deal with pension programs and non-essential government spending. We must find a better equilibrium.