Open Forum for week of April 4

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letters will be accepted for the Open Forum for publication in the next available issue after receipt. Letters may be sent to Forest Lake Times, 880 SW 15th St., Forest Lake, or by e-mail to [email protected] Letters should not exceed 250 words and must be signed with the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Deadline is noon Monday. The newspaper reserves the right to edit letters and assure that rules of libel and good taste are not violated.


Extension Not Earned

Recently our mayor and city administrator asked the Minnesota House Taxes Committee to extend TIF District 21 for 10 more years.

Not widely understood, the purpose of a TIF district is to pool property tax money that would otherwise be distributed proportionately amongst our city, county and schools into a fund specific to that district. This fund is then managed by the city and is to be used to spur development within that specific TIF district.

One area that is within TIF District 21 is the Northland Mall site. After collecting TIF money for 23 years the city now wants to collect it for another 10. As taxpayers we should be asking, after 23 years of the city collecting funds to develop this area, what do we have to show for it?

The promise to taxpayers when advocating for TIF is that once it expires there will be a viable, high-property-tax-paying development in that area. When it comes to the Northland Mall site we rather have an undeveloped mall slotted to become a non-revenue-producing municipal campus.

So where did the money go? The city will tell you that everything is above board because the county and school district have given their blessing. However both these entities have the power to levy higher taxes to cover their losses to TIF districts. I commend Councilman Ben Winnick for testifying against extending TIF District 21. It is time to hold our local government accountable for its spending.

Cassi Piper
Forest Lake
(Editor’s note: The writer was a plaintiff in the lawsuit involving the city’s acquisition of the Northland Mall site.)


Necessary Spending?

Senator Nienow is on record as being very concerned about government waste and excessive spending. All those that drive to work in the metro would not have had the opportunity to see him driving to the Capitol to do our business, because he is billing the Minnesota taxpayers $12,700 for him to have an apartment in the cities for the whole year, while his residence in Cambridge is 53.64 miles from the Capitol!

And this is a legislature that meets less than half the year and this is a senator who has many neighbors and constituents who work in the cities but drive home every night.

Historically, for the last 20 years none of our area senators took the lodging allowance, and in Sen. Nienow’s first term, he did not take the lodging itemization.

I wonder what has changed? It might just be he is being hit, just like the rest of us, and figures he is entitled for us to pay for an apartment in the cities to represent us.

Except, of course, many people believed his statements on accountability, and now we pay for his accountability by this questionable lodging expense.

All the Legislature’s expenses are public record. Look it up and then ask why he needs a year-round apartment that we pay for when he lives under 70 miles from the Capitol and most workers in the Senate District commute to work.

M.A. Madden