Skip to Content

UNP Expansion Process has Stalled - July 15, 2018


When I look back over my calendar for the last few weeks I can see that a lot has been going on. Sometimes I get so focused on my own challenges as a Mayor, I forget how many important activities that simultaneously impact our residents lives. We have high expectations for the services we get from our municipality, and I think this is something many of us take for granted.
Every day our staff of 865 employees make sure you have safe clean water 24 hours every day, roads are repaired, trash and waste are removed, parks are improved, and police patrol. You can be assured that if you have an emergency someone will be there to help you within minutes. After having travelled in a number of other countries, it seems that overall we have better and more reliable city services than most and with very little effort on the residents part, so I! want to recognize our city employees that come to work every day and work hard and take pride in what they do and say thank you!
These services come at a high cost. We have been cutting spending and holding back on hiring, except that mandated by Council, for several years now. Yet, we continue to struggle with our General Fund which is not keeping pace with population growth, inflation, mandates, etc. The challenge in recent years has been looking for ways to cut without impacting core services. Our department heads are currently combing the budget for cuts of $695,000 in order to make next year’s budget. That amount is what Council mandated to be cut in a last minute amendment the night the budget was approved. Finding another $695,000 to cut is a really tall order. While I understand the Council concerns, I personally feel the budget originally presented to the Council worked better. We had sufficient reserves to ! cover our expenses, but the majority rules in Council decision making.
The big issue that has gotten the most press lately concerns the UNP TIF Arena/ Entertainment proposal. We have been looking at various proposals, studies, and data over the past year. Recently we requested an independent analysis which we received from HVS Consultants a few weeks ago. The study looked at a selection of data and information that the Council had been considering as part of their decision making process. While HVS analyzed previous data and did projections on costs and revenues, it did not provide information specifically on the net new growth and the impact of the development on the rest of the City’s economy. That evening the Council agreed that we needed this final information to make an informed decision and move forward. However, at our meeting Tuesday night, the majority of the Council voted not to do the final part of the study. For now it looks like the whole process is stalled.
Another big issue I continue to get questions about is what we are doing about the storm water issue. Since the utility failed at the ballot box in 2016, we have been working steadily on it. Our Storm Water Citizen Committee has finalized their report and given it to Council. Citizen Committee representatives are now hosting Open Houses in various parts of town to get input from our residents. We have had three so far, the last was held at the Central Library downtown. We have had good crowds and a lot of good questions.
The committee recommendations included both a bond issue component for infra! structure and a utility to pay for prevention and maintenance. The bond! issue component has received a pretty positive response, and there have not been many questions about the proposed business utility rate. Most of the questions have been focused on whether there should be one flat fee for residents or have some variation of a tiered rate structure. If you are interested in giving input, come to our next Open House which will be scheduled sometime in August. I continue to emphasize that no final decisions have been made and we want to hear from you!


When I look back over my calendar for the last few weeks I can see that a lot has been going on. Sometimes I get so focused on my own challenges as a Mayor, I forget how many important activities that simultaneously impact our residents lives. We have high expectations for the services we get from our municipality, and I think this is something many of us take for granted.

Every day our staff of 865 employees make sure you have safe clean water 24 hours every day, roads are repaired, trash and waste are removed, parks are improved, and police patrol. You can be assured that if you have an emergency someone will be there to help you within minutes. After having travelled in a number of other countries, it seems that overall we have better and more reliable city services than most and with very little effort on the residents part, so I! want to recognize our city employees that come to work every day and work hard and take pride in what they do and say thank you!

These services come at a high cost. We have been cutting spending and holding back on hiring, except that mandated by Council, for several years now. Yet, we continue to struggle with our General Fund which is not keeping pace with population growth, inflation, mandates, etc. The challenge in recent years has been looking for ways to cut without impacting core services. Our department heads are currently combing the budget for cuts of $695,000 in order to make next year’s budget. That amount is what Council mandated to be cut in a last minute amendment the night the budget was approved. Finding another $695,000 to cut is a really tall order. While I understand the Council concerns, I personally feel the budget originally presented to the Council worked better. We had sufficient reserves to ! cover our expenses, but the majority rules in Council decision making.

The big issue that has gotten the most press lately concerns the UNP TIF Arena/ Entertainment proposal. We have been looking at various proposals, studies, and data over the past year. Recently we requested an independent analysis which we received from HVS Consultants a few weeks ago. The study looked at a selection of data and information that the Council had been considering as part of their decision making process. While HVS analyzed previous data and did projections on costs and revenues, it did not provide information specifically on the net new growth and the impact of the development on the rest of the City’s economy. That evening the Council agreed that we needed this final information to make an informed decision and move forward. However, at our meeting Tuesday night, the majority of the Council voted not to do the final part of the study. For now it looks like the whole process is stalled.

Another big issue I continue to get questions about is what we are doing about the storm water issue. Since the utility failed at the ballot box in 2016, we have been working steadily on it. Our Storm Water Citizen Committee has finalized their report and given it to Council. Citizen Committee representatives are now hosting Open Houses in various parts of town to get input from our residents. We have had three so far, the last was held at the Central Library downtown. We have had good crowds and a lot of good questions.

The committee recommendations included both a bond issue component for infra! structure and a utility to pay for prevention and maintenance. The bond! issue component has received a pretty positive response, and there have not been many questions about the proposed business utility rate. Most of the questions have been focused on whether there should be one flat fee for residents or have some variation of a tiered rate structure. If you are interested in giving input, come to our next Open House which will be scheduled sometime in August. I continue to emphasize that no final decisions have been made and we want to hear from you!