Citizen Priorities Should Determine Budget Cuts

The following letter appeared in the June 2nd, 2010 Northfield News.

June 1, 2010

Dear Mayor and Councilors:

The Board of Directors of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation is concerned about the financial state of our City and we wish to share those concerns with the members of the Northfield City Council. With great love for our community and respect for the work that the Council must perform, the Board offers the following thoughts regarding the City’s budget-balancing efforts.

First, it is clear that our financial challenge is substantial and structural. The gap for the second half of 2010 has been cited as ranging from $300,000 to $900,000, depending on the availability of LGA funds. The projected gap for 2011 is even larger. Virtually all analysts, from every sector, have concluded that LGA funds are depleted and are highly unlikely to be made available again. Therefore, the City’s response to our current financial crisis must also be substantial and structural.

Second, the burden of the response cannot be placed on the business community through yet another increase in commercial property taxes. The City’s budget-balancing solution for 2010 may have produced a 1.2% reduction for residential properties, but it caused an 8.5% increase in municipal commercial property taxes, along with a number of fee increases, coming during the period of The Great Recession for businesses. The boom years are behind us, and many analysts suggest that they are not coming back.  Future City budgets must reflect this new reality.

Third, given the size of our financial challenge and the pursuit of cost reduction-driven solutions, we all realize that cuts will not be painless. To that end, the values and priorities of the citizens of Northfield should be the guiding factors in determining recommendations for which services should be maintained and which services could be eliminated. The NDDC requests that a formal, open, two-way process be conducted to provide citizens the opportunity to share their values and priorities for funding decisions that will impact their municipal services.

We hope the Northfield City Council receives these suggestions in the constructive spirit with which they are given. We, the NDDC Board of Directors, also offer our willingness—in fact, our eagerness—to support the Council’s efforts on this matter.


Keith Covey
Board President

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