Good Evening Mayor and Councilors, thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight. My name is Jessica Paxton and I am an officer on the Board of Directors of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation, a non-profit organization focused on sustaining the vibrancy and vitality of our beautiful, historic downtown.
On behalf of my fellow board members, I want to thank you for holding this Public Forum. Issues like the City Budget are of utmost importance to our community, and we believe that it is essential that our elected officials seek citizen input on matters like these.
As you may recall, the NDDC Board sent a letter to the City Council, dated June 1st, on this very subject. At this time, I would like to reaffirm the NDDC’s commitment to the three points outlined in that letter.
First, it is clear that our current financial challenge runs deep and wide. The budget crisis cannot be solved with quick fixes or minor, temporary adjustments. The City’s response to our current financial crisis must be significant and substantial – based on solid, well-grounded, decisive actions that will take the City beyond the next six or 12 or eighteen months.
Second, the burden of the response cannot be placed on our local business community through yet another increase in commercial property taxes. The City’s budget-balancing solution for 2010 may have produced a 1.2% tax reduction for residential properties, but it caused an 8.5% increase in municipal commercial property taxes. Our so-called Great Recession has pushed many of our local businesses to the brink of extinction – in fact, some have already been forced to shut their doors – they cannot bear any more increases in their financial burden.
Third, and finally, we recognize that budget cuts mean that services will be cut. We believe the services most valued by citizens should be preserved. 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. This Public Forum is an important opportunity for citizens to share which services they value, and which services they could do without. We hope you will listen carefully as the citizens speak tonight.
Thank you once again for this opportunity to speak. The NDDC recognizes the size of the challenges that lie ahead and offers our support in finding citizen-driven solutions.