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Letter to the editor: Council unresponsive to BSC-taxpayer questions

I emailed Woodbury City Council members respectfully asking about the funding for the Bielenberg Sports Center (BSC). The city information on funding and taxes for the project is literally only a paragraph. I received no response so I emailed City Administrator Clint Gridley my questions and got an informed response.

I mentioned how the project costs have increased from $16 million in 2010 to now $22 million and questioned the funding source, voter approval, and if new taxes are going to be required. Mr. Gridley said the original BSC isn’t paid off yet; however in 1994 and 2005 voters approved referendums to pay for the original building and the land.

On Jan. 23, the City Council approved extending the existing levies, without voter approval, to pay for the project. “G.O. bonds called tax abatement bonds are being used to fund the project,” Gridley said. Apparently voter approval is not required for such spending. The city administrator said $16.1 million in debt from these bonds will fund the project and the remainder will be funded from capital improvement and park dedication reserves.

So no increase in taxes is required (yet). As with the original sports center user fees aren’t going to pay for this sports center. I asked the mayor and City Council members if they thought this was fair and mentioned other parks that charge user fees and got no response. The county park in Lake Elmo charges an admission fee for visitors and has individual user fees on top for those who decide to camp.

Apparently City Council would rather ignore questions from taxpayers; bypass a vote from taxpayers on funding the project in favor of going deeper in debt; and pass nearly all the costs for the BSC on to the taxpayers whether they use it or not.

Matt Behning - Woodbury

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

(651) 301-7867