Golden Quill: Port Authority is in systemic failureChange is hard for everyone when the status quo seems such a safe haven. Hard economic times call for tough, timely decisions.
By: Bill Federbusch, Red Wing,
To the Editor:
Change is hard for everyone when the status quo seems such a safe haven. Hard economic times call for tough, timely decisions. Most of us cling to snippets of good news, work hard to keep our jobs, trim expenses and just hang in there.
With mounting liabilities that include assessments, infrastructure, and property taxes on unsold land, the Port Authority is in a no-win situation to reduce its debt. Even if the city passes pending Resolution 6040 to raise the port’s levy to its maximum $325,000, that only reduces the debt $30,000 per year – a drop in the bucket of the $1,200,000 of debt already accrued.
What are we taxpayers paying for? A reduction in the port’s debt, or an effective economic development?
The port’s proposed five-step plan is plainly unrealistic. The City Council and Port Board should have the courage and vision to execute tough changes.
Here are some options:
A. The port must to be prepared to take positive, decisive actions now, before the economic recovery is fully under way. Red Wing must stay ahead of other Minnesota towns vying for precious new development by aggressively marketing land the port owns.
B. Dissolve the port and start with an altogether new economic development authority. Divide the new EDA into two major functions, much like the Albert Lea model — one acting as a real estate developer, the other marketing new developments. This new structure would create clarity of purpose, better accountability, more transparency, and easier oversight.
C. Reshape the port’s current structure and establish a development consortium, one comprising representatives from the port, chamber of commerce, downtown council and the Visitors & Convention Bureau, agencies which currently spend thousands on their individual marketing agendas. By aggregating financial resources and manpower, we would create a stronger, more effective development team.
D. The port needs to put more emphasis on proven business retention and expansion strategies, such as those offered by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, to focus on both short-term and long-range objectives. These objectives would provide unified community support for local businesses, help increase their competitiveness, and establish a communitywide strategic plan for business development.
According to recent census figures, Red Wing is not growing. If you want our town to increase its tax base, improve employment opportunities, and encourage new business expansion, now is the time for change.
If you don’t think you can make a difference, just ask if getting involved didn’t affect the last election. Get in touch with your City Council member today. .