Mayor touches on snow removal, career exploration and school issues
I have three areas to touch on this month.1. Snow Removal: After spending some time out in the trucks with the street crew while they are plowing these first two snowfalls, I can say that we do a pretty darn good job of removing and hauling snow.I need to remind people that there is a snow ordinance of no parking on the streets from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. for snow removal.If they are plowing snow at night, there will be tickets issued for those cars remaining on the streets.Please do not push or plow your snow into the streets, even if it is along the curb, it is not allowed. Tickets will also be written for doing so.Show some patience for the crew as they remove the snow, they spend a lot of time in the trucks and get tired and can seem rude or cranky, but they are just trying to do the best for everyone they can. If you see them coming and you park your vehicle in the street to clear your own driveway, please move it off the street so they can clear the area, otherwise you run the risk of being plowed in as well.I asked a state DOT person about why it is that as soon as I get my driveway cleared, the trucks come by and fill in the end of my driveway. Then this common sense answer came out of his mouth: because when the truck drives along a curb and then hits an open spot, the snow in the blade has a place to go.If your driveway was still filled in, it would stay in the blade till the next open spot. Well yep, that makes sense so I won’t get as mad the next time my drive is all cleared and it gets filled in at the end by the snow plows. It really isn’t their fault it happens, and yet I was always blaming the plow drivers.The timing of the snowfall makes all the difference in the world for these guys.2. Eighth Grade Career Explorations: The Economic Development team of Tammy and Megan, along with NICC’s Diane Dirro partnered up with Matt Monroe of the middle school and local businesses spending a week with the eighth grade class working with them on how to think about their futures.They showed them how to fill out resumes, how small businesses operate and took them to tour several of our industries and our hospital giving them the opportunity to see how many possibilities each place gives them for employment right here in New Hampton.For many of them it was eye opening to see that a factory wasn’t just line jobs. It is engineers, and business majors and marketing and human relations along with the technical skills such as plumbing and electrical needed to do the job.The hospital demonstrated their needs for a wide variety of education opportunities as well. Whether the student wishes to extend their education two years to a tech school or four years to a university, or if they want to get a job right out of high school, they know it is possible as well and what they can expect.What a great program for our students as it gives them the opportunity to better plan their high school courses in the direction of their interests.3. School Issues: Most of you now know that the school has purchased the former State DOT building for use of a bus barn.School buses are very expensive and shouldn’t be left outside in the elements, so purchasing the property made great sense.The school went a step further and between them and the Street Department, an agreement was made to allow the city to house our sand and salt in one of their buildings in exchange for snow removal for the property by the city.This is a savings for the city budget of $80,000 that we were looking to spend to build a place to keep our sand and salt. This is what teamwork and great use of tax dollars looks like.The school is using their forward thinking along with the School Facilities Committee trying to develop the best school plan and stay fiscally responsible in the upcoming school bond vote.Through the entire process the school board and the committee have been responsive in changing their plans presented to us two years ago in the bond vote to scale back the project from $29 million to $19.4 million with the hopes that the voters will acknowledge recognition of the tax burden the previous plan would have meant and see that we can still afford to invest in our towns, business, but most importantly our children.The overall taxy levy rate will go down from the previous $3.20 per 1,000 of taxable value per year to $1.60 per 1,000.I would like everyone to keep in mind that the taxable valuation of your home is not the assessed value.An example if I use my home: it is assessed at $151,000 but the taxable valuation is $84,050.00 so my increased property tax would be $134.48 per year.Farmers, remember city taxes on my home are the same as rural property assessed at $251,000.00.For owners of multi-property real state, the roll back from commercial to residential should save you the money on your property taxes so you shouldn’t have to raise rent to accommodate the differences. I went to the grocery store and spent $100 and didn’t have anything in those bags for dinner. Imagine if I spent $134.48 and gave the children a competitive education!I know there will be many letters to the editor coming in the next two months as it has already begun, but please do your own research as to the validity of the facts. One of the major uncertainties previously was what was going to happen to our building on the corner of Linn and Main Street.It is such a beautiful school, and that it is. It really is an iconic presence to our beautiful town.The school hopes to keep it intact and by closing off the top two stories of the 1913 portion of the school that does not meet fire standards and by moving students in grades 5-8 grades out to the high school with the proposed plan, we can utilize the elementary building housing students in PreK-4 in that facility and actually have the room to teach our children with our current curriculum.The one thing through all of this is that we may have declining enrollment, but if we don’t do something it is going to keep declining.I have seen the responses to our city when we look to bring in business. They only want to invest in communities willing to invest in themselves. I keep hearing we need another grocery store, and we could patronize more than one in our town when we had the residents.Well, if we want to renew our main street and have what other towns have that we drive to because we cannot find it here, then we need to do what they do and invest in ourselves.We have industries here that have employees driving from other towns to work because of what other towns have to offer, or they cannot find employees because they don’t want to move their families here.We are working on providing walking and biking trails, parks and pools that are enticing to bring families here to live. We are working on building more housing.By providing a competitive school that includes work base learning initiatives, tells our kids that we want to give them every opportunity to succeed in life with the hopes that their education will allow them to continue to live in New Hampton and be successful.There will be plenty of information coming to us all in the near future. I hope with all my heart we can all look at it with open minds and really look at what we can do together.I ran for mayor because I wanted to make a difference, I hope you all will vote yes on the bond issue because you want to make a difference too.Plans are in the Economic Development office for anyone who wants to view them.•••••I hope that the holidays bless everyone with save travels, good health, and an abundance of love with family and friends, but mostly peace in our hearts.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!! Cheers to 2017!!