FFM Bulletin 11/11/11

Referenda and election results roundup

Voters in 114 school districts across the state went to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of their districts’ operating levies. While nearly two-thirds of the proposed levy renewals passed, voters were far less excited about approving new taxes.

In total, 90 school districts passed an operating levy while 24 districts’ proposals failed, a 79 percent passage rate. Yet almost two-thirds of the operating levies that passed were levy renewals, meaning residents would not see a property tax increase. Of the 62 districts that asked solely for levy increases, 35 were successful.

See the full rundown on our website.

Nowthen weighs the need of police patrol at $250,000/year

Anoka County Sherriff James Stuart recently offered residents of the new Anoka County community of Nowthen a stern ultimatum:  Pay at least 25 percent more in property taxes or lose police protection as you know it.

The rural city of 4,400 is the only one in Anoka County without a contract with the county sheriff’s office for law enforcement. Sherriff Stuart has threatened a cutback in patrols without a contract, leaving residents with the bare minimum of public safety service required by state law. A contract with the county would cost Nowthen taxpayers $250,000, nearly a quarter of the city’s current budget.  Either way, any contract (whether through Anoka County or a less expensive proposal from a neighbor) will be a tough sell for residents of the rural town.

Nearly 150 residents turned out to a community forum last week to learn more about the issue.  Said Nowthen resident Marlene Ortman: "It feels like you're trying to scare us into thinking we're in the new crime capitol of the north. You know, people move to the country, they don't expect everything to be like it is in the city."

The Freedom Foundation recently reported on the City of Foley’s decision to hire a private security firm in lieu of the traditional patrols from the Benton County Sherriff’s office.  As local governments search for responsible and creative ways to live within their means, it’s becoming clear that all options should remain on the table.

Help us promote FREEDOM in Minnesota!

While liberal activists, organized labor, and anti-capitalists of all stripes continue to “occupy” tent cities across the country, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota is taking a different approach.

To celebrate Give to the Max day on November 16th, we will be “occupying” the bar area at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Minneapolis from 4:00-6:30pm to celebrate our many freedoms. Freedom Foundation supporters attending this exciting event will be joined by special guests and more. (Click here to see our invitation.)

Bring a friend and help us continue our mission of making Minnesota a freer, more prosperous place for businesses and families!

Northern Lights Express: On track or going nowhere fast?

The proposed 155-mile Northern Lights Express rail route from Minneapolis to Duluth is making big promises, including providing $2 billion in economic development and “encouraging” (Editorial Note: their word, not ours!) nearly 14,000 new jobs. All the while, multiple reports have shown ridership projections may not be enough to receive a worthwhile return on this major taxpayer-subsidized investment. So with a price tag anywhere from $650 million to $1 billion and a Congress ready and willing to derail high-speed rail projects, what does the future hold for NLX?

Read our latest Accountability Alert for more on the high-speed rail showdown in Minnesota and Washington.

Short Takes

The Congressional Research Service recently released their report titled “Background and Issues for Congressional Oversight of ARRA Broadband Awards.” The report highlighted several broadband projects around the country, including Minnesota’s own Lake County Broadband project. Unfortunately for taxpayers, the project was listed under the subtitle “Problems with Particular Awards,” as it described the complaint filed with the US government calling for an investigation and suspension of the $66.4 million award for construction of the Lake County Fiber Network. As they say… “Oops.”


When you hear the words Minnesota tourism, I doubt that the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities comes immediately to mind. But that’s the impression one firm hopes to change in their taxpayer funded marketing campaign. Nine metro cities must decide if they will move forward with the proposed budget increase to fund the newly formed “Twin Cities Gateway” organization. Stay tuned for any news from the nine-city coalition. We’ll let you know when to pack up the cooler, too, as you drive the Family Truckster to Friendly Fridley.


A recent report from Minnesota 2020, the St. Paul based “nonpartisan, progressive organization,” (i.e. a liberal think tank) concluded that rural airports are “under threat“ from decline in passenger counts and airline cutbacks. The report released at a press conference at the St. Cloud Airport recommends that the state should reduce aircraft registration fees and- you guessed it- raise fuel taxes.

The folks at MN2020 seem to be forgetting that Delta pulled service from St. Cloud in late 2009 because of weak customer demand, and that despite a recent $5 million terminal renovation and $750,000 boarding bridge to nowhere (built with federal funds), the airport is still without commercial service. Maybe taxing and spending isn’t the answer this time.


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