To the Editor:

When you see elected officials dancing (metaphorically) but you can’t hear the music, you might think there’s something wrong. In St. Louis Park, there is. The officials found a taxpayer-costly way to secure a public-service legacy for themselves. After all, they are overworked, underpaid and have an otherwise thankless but necessary job.

Unfortunately for the city’s renters and taxpayers, a majority of the St. Louis Park City Council couldn’t find the fiscal prudence path to a valued legacy. Instead, they found the path called “Spend for Costly ‘Legacy-Wants’ and Send the Bill to the Taxpayers.” They’re probably dancing (metaphorically) to distract the voters from noticing the higher property tax bills coming due. Members who resisted this strategy were outvoted.

The problem with their legacy-spending strategy on recreation and nature centers is that their legacy-wants don’t serve all of our city’s residents and taxpayers well. Oh those legacy-wants are open to all residents all right, but are they used or felt needed by most of the residents? I don’t think so.

The council could have earned a better and cheaper legacy by curing a defective public policy, a problem of widespread and substantial unfairness. Only about half of the city’s public sidewalks are cleared of snow at the public’s expense using very efficient industrial-grade snow-clearing equipment while the other half are cleared of snow by the unpaid, involuntary, inefficient and health-risky efforts provided by the abutting property owners.

In other words, the council voted to “socialize” the means of funding its legacy, and voted to “privatize” the means of funding some of the public’s needs. It makes all the taxpayers pay for its legacy and makes some of the taxpayers pay taxes twice, by forcing the out-of-favor property owners to pay a special kind of “tax” to clear snow from public sidewalks that their property just happens to abut.

This problem has a simple and low-cost cure. The city can clear all the sidewalks they want cleared, and clearing the remaining sidewalks by individuals can be optional. Fairness and equity won’t prevail in St. Louis Park until we change some minds or change some council members.

Dale Anderson

St. Louis Park

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