Like you, I received a notice that my property taxes went up. I’m sure that news was just as welcome in your house as it was in mine. What you may not know is that the City Council already signaled property taxes will increase again this year by 4.9% and 3.9% in 2019.
The news may be even worse than that. The stated reason for the tax increases is to pay for overdue repairs to our water treatment facility. The real reason is lack of budgeting for routine expenses.
When you have a building or machinery it’s no surprise that sooner or later you’ll need to make repairs and eventually replace it. Normally, you set aside a bit of money each year for repair and replacement costs so you have the funds when they’re needed. This is a normal business practice which Burnsville seems to have ignored for the water treatment plant and also for other necessary infrastructure. What happens when those repairs come due?
Once we know what the real budget situation is – then we can address it. Or we can keep getting surprised and repeatedly raise taxes. I understand taxes maintain valuable city services, all I’m asking is that we have an honest budget which includes all our expenses to avoid any more “surprises.”
Allowing residents to be good residents
There are times that regulations and codes hamper residents from engaging in beneficial activities. When that happens, government needs to change. If residents or businesses wish to install grey water systems, which filter and recycle water which can then be used in toilets, they should be allowed to do so. Not only does this minimize water use, it cuts down on the wear and tear on our ailing water treatment facility. Likewise, if a neighborhood wishes to convert an unused volleyball sand pit into a community garden, and are willing to cover the costs, they should be allowed to submit a plan.
Burnsville faces a few challenges with housing. There isn’t enough and our population’s housing needs are changing. We could add in more business area with condos in the industrial area on the river. This requires a zoning change. We can also partially solve a few challenges with one solution. Our older residents would like to stay in their homes, but need some assistance. Younger families would like to buy a home, but finances may be a bit tight. Empty nesters are seeing a return of their adult children, often with with a spouse or child along with them. Burnsville could allow accessory dwellings to solve these situations. No matter if you call them tiny homes, mother-in-law apartments above the garage, or granny pods these smaller living areas would allow our seniors to have a relative live on their property and help care for them, give young families much needed extra income, and allow boomerang adult children a place of their own.
Burnsville’s current zoning isn’t just out of date, it’s hurting our city. While the city was debating how many liquor stores could be allowed in the city, Amazon was partnering with a Minneapolis liquor store to deliver liquor to your doorstep in 2 hours. In that moment zoning used as a tool for protection of local businesses became obsolete. Instead of a local business, or businesses, delivering goods for Amazon, Surdyk’s got the bid. We can either pretend the market isn’t changing and continue to hamper our local businesses ability to adapt to the new markets and thrive, or we can help our community adapt in ways that preserve our community.
Likewise, our most beautiful property in Burnsville is zoned industrial only and sits empty. Rezoning the area on the river for mixed purpose would open it up to retail areas for small businesses with condos on top. Instead of empty warehouses, it could be a lovely neighborhood, attracting new residents to Burnsville.