We should not add an extra line item on every receipt for a Blaine City sales tax. This will only make it harder for small business' to compete. A city sales tax on everyday products and groceries will hit lower income families harder. Yes, visitors will have to pay but at a certain point items and services become cheaper elsewhere.
To keep a lid on property taxes, we need to limit our spending. Blaine's budget has increased 8-9% for the past few years, while normal inflation is around 2%. I also want to look at our TIF (Tax Increment Financing) budget. While it's important to grow I think it's time to take a look at why developers are getting hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in tax assistance from money belonging to Blaine taxpayers. While some projects are worth giving money towards, to help Blaine grow, we shouldn't be financing new housing developments, or apartment complexes, with tax payer dollars, when the building would be happening anyways! Blaine's TIF budget is $9 MILLION dollars every year! This is money that comes from our property taxes and goes into big corporate developers pockets. Blaine needs to put property tax money into our roads, schools, libraries, and other essential city budget items.
Not many know, but Blaine is under capacity when it comes to police officers. For a city of 66,000 and growing we only have 6 on duty officers at a time! As I'm writing this I think it may be even less due to co-vid. We need more officers on our streets to minimize speeding, drunk driving, and theft. Part of a safe city is police presence. Hiring new officers is challenging, but as the pools to choose from get smaller it's all the more reason to invest in more police for our future.
As many Blaine residents know, driving on HWY 65 can be a nightmare. What many don't know is that HWY 65 actually has the most high risk intersections of any highway in the state! It is more dangerous than any other road in Minnesota. We need to fix this. MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) is conducting a deep study into HWY 65 through the summer of 2020, and we need to hold them accountable to securing funding to fix HWY 65 for good.
In 2019 and the first few months of 2020 there have been over six suicides at Blaine High School. We need to reach students and families in our community. We need to continue to invest to expand our schools, and getting smaller class sizes so teachers have the resources to reach their students. We need more recourses for school councilors and parents to understand how to deal with students that are struggling.
We also need to ensure our elders are getting the proper care in our nursing homes. The city should be investigating any and every complaint of elder abuse or nursing home negligence in our city.
I want to continue to see Blaine be a business hub in the North. We also need to develop the arts! I would like to partner with our state legislators on ideas to foster growth for artistic business' such as theaters, fine art studios, and even film studios! I also would love for Blaine to get a city bandshell for music and city events in the summer.