Here's the latest email from Jerry Williams regarding the local-option sales tax. Again, I don't post these to endorse approval of the tax -- I think these are interesting notes on the issue, and frankly if they're going out to a big email list of promoters, they should be widely available beyond that.
Friends, Colleagues and Fellow Citizens:
We had a vigorous debate with the opposition this past Thursday evening, and the next event is a public forum this Wednesday evening, September 19, in the auditorium at the Rochester Public Library at 7:00 p.m. It will be different from the debate in that after a couple rounds of opening comments by both sides, the audience will be led by facilitators in further discussions on the merits of the renewal. I would like nothing better than to see many of you in attendance and speaking to the importance of renewing the local ½ cent sales tax.
At the debate, I felt we were effectively able to get across several of our key points, including:
· This is not a new tax but a renewal of our current one.
· Renewing it supports a vision and legacy of our community going forward into the future.
· Past projects have been very well done and contributed to our quality of life for many years.
· It minimizes increases in property taxes with up to 50% of the revenue coming from visitors.
The partnership between the Rochester Senior Center and City Parks and Recreation Department is an excellent one and is included as one of the projects to be funded. This is, in total, a $20 million item: $8 million to remodel the Recreation Center, built in 1974, and $12 million to build a Senior/Community Center addition onto it. This will increase the space for our seniors from a very crowded 16,000 sq. foot area in the ‘Castle’ downtown to an approximately 60,000 sq. foot area that more appropriately reflects the lifestyle of seniors now and into the future.
Based on recent census data, between the 2010 and 2030 censuses, the population of citizens in our area over the age of 60 will increase by 94%! What are we doing to prepare for that? This is a powerful way to do something about it as well as provide the learning and wellness opportunities so prevalent with today’s and tomorrow’s seniors. What a great venue this can be that not only provides greater parking, a community gathering place but also improved opportunities for our youth and seniors. It’s a legacy that says a lot about our willingness to support those who have given so much over the years and those to whom we expect so much in the future.
Throughout the state and our area, communities support their seniors with contributions from city budgets. For example, Albert Lea spends $5.27 per capita; Austin spends $3.24; Farmington $12.74; Northfield $3.50; Owatonna $6.46; Winona $16.31 and Rochester $.70. That’s right, 70 cents. That figure comes from the $75,000 in the 2011 City budget to support seniors. They raise all the other revenue for operating the senior center. We can do better than that, and supporting this project as one on the list for renewal says we care.
At the debate, I was asked, what question was most often asked as I have gone out and spoken to many, many groups? The answer: “Why would anyone oppose this?” In other words, it makes such good sense (cents!) considering the success of past projects and the well-thought-out future projects that support a powerful vision for our community’s future. These projects were all approved and supported by a citizen committee prior to going to the City Council and the Legislature. They are locally grown and will be locally administered, with all the revenue staying here. What a strong message that sends.
For more information, check out our website: www.commoncentsrochestermn.com . Spread the word, feel free to forward this email to others, and ask them to support this effort by voting ‘yes.’
Thank you for your support, and if you would like a lawn sign or presentation to a group, please let me know. We’re only 50 or so days from the election, and although we’re feeling a lot of momentum on our side, we are not going to relax. Remember: It’s Common Cents! Please Vote Yes!