Why would a Welcoming city want to increase taxes on it's hospitality industry, especially when we are already seeing so many restaurants close? According to Mayor Kleis, the increase in taxes on our local restaurants and hotels will not effect their business. This statement by the Mayor should concern anyone with a very basic understanding of economics. Taxpayers can still be hit with a heavy price even without a line item showing an expense.
This is not just tourism taxation, this will be a further taxation on the citizens of the city of St. Cloud. Tax money that will now be used to upgrade in part the Riversedge Convention Center, which according to the Mayor must be updated in order to bring in corporate partners to purchase the naming rights. OK, Mr Mayor, where were these potential partners when it was newly renovated a few years ago? Why wasn't the city pursuing these opportunities when they were available? If our leadership missed this opportunity, what other opportunities are they missing? Why should the tax payers vote to give you more money when you have missed prime opportunities to safe guard what we have given you previously?
Are you tired of everyone in public office holding the opinion that more tax money solves everything? At what point do we tell our elected officials "NO!"? No more taxes, no more ignoring your current stewardship duties in order to continue to build more thereby creating more to care for, without caring for what you currently have on your plate?
The naming rights should have been secured years ago, even before the work began. A person with the plans, someone who sings the praises of St. Cloud, an attention seeking happy face fuzzy britches persona, could have gone out to businesses and sold the idea. I am personally not a fan of public private partnerships, but as we have already gone down this road, then how about making it work for the people? It is supposed to be a government of, for and by the people, the founding fathers did not mean for the people to just foot the bill. Plus there is the question of is St Cloud in the position to pay another bill especially when we factor in information like this:
While in 2010 St. Cloud had no extreme poverty tracts, one neighborhood crossed that threshold over the past several years. The city’s extreme poverty neighborhood is home to 17.1% of the city’s poor population — the highest rate of concentrated poverty in Minnesota and more than twice the state’s concentrated poverty rate of 8.3%.
While individuals in low-income areas tend to have less educational attainment than those in high-income areas, the presence of St. Cloud State University can help explain the smaller achievement gap between the two demographics in the metro area. Some 24.4% of adults in St. Cloud’s extreme poverty neighborhoods have a bachelor’s degree, nearly in line with the 25.1% college attainment rate outside of the city’s extreme poverty neighborhoods.
Tax increases will cause people to go to surrounding cities and will damage our already troubled hospitality industry. Our current leaders need to find another way, and the next time there is an opportunity make the most of it. It is time for the citizens to elect leaders in St. Cloud to do their job, work for the people and act in their best interests, not elect people to run around having fun and being popular. We have work to be done.
The culture of St. Cloud's leadership must be changed to one of servant leadership. We the people employ them. I am Liz Baklaich, and I humbly ask for your vote on August 14th, in Ward #2, to begin to be a part of the change in culture we so desperately need in St. Cloud.