The issue that I find most challenging to explain is also the one that could be most beneficial to our city. In simple terms, I want to reduce financial dependence on residents. Currently most of the revenue from our city comes from property taxes, paid for by residents. If we wanted the city to increase the amount that they spent per resident, then residents would be the ones paying for that. This is not ideal. Therefore, I want to utilize other ways in which we can add money to our city budget, and increase our spending per resident, without creating an unnecessary tax burden.
The first way is to use more state, local, and federal grants. Right now, Blaine is in the bottom 5% regarding cities who utilize grant money. This can be compared to Coon Rapids, who has a similar size and is in the bottom ⅓ of Minnesota Cities, however each year they get an additional $4 million a year from state and federal grants. I believe that as a city we can be doing better to use these available resources in order to increase the amount of money we can spend per resident.
Another way we can increase our city’s revenue is by utilizing the amenities and visitors we have in Blaine. Every year we draw large crowds to our soccer and golf tournaments, concerts at the NSC or events from our airport. We need to be using hotel taxes or ticket fees to help ensure that our many visitors are helping to pay for the amenities they use, and the city they stay in. This would be yet another way in which residents would not have to increase their taxes, but our city would financially benefit.
Finally, Blaine is home to a busy regional airport. Although it is a regional asset, it provides no financial benefits to the city of Blaine. Blaine has over 1800 acres of land dedicated to the airport, but this land is exempt from property taxes and therefore provides no financial benefits to the city. Blaine residents bear the burden of listening to airport noise coming from nearly 200 planes a day. I would like to pursue arrangements between the airport and the city of Blaine so that Blaine is able to benefit from being home to such a large asset.
Fiscal responsibility is very important for any city, and as a City Councilmember I hope to ensure that we are utilizing all the resources we can to best support our residents.