We all need to save money, probably more than we currently do. We’re a society obsessed with consumption – we’re referred to as “consumers” after all – and accumulating all those material things and other possessions we need, want, and convince ourselves we need...well, that costs a lot of money.
We want our community’s leaders and the people we elect and the people who determine how much we’re going to be taxed to be especially smart with their/our money, and here in Crookston the argument that our City leaders wildly spend their/our money is a pretty weak one. Simply put, our City’s finances are solid.
But are they too solid? Are the reserves piled too high, especially when local taxpayers are subjected to tax increases every year? (For 2019, a 7.5 percent levy increase is being proposed at this “preliminary” juncture.)
The City currently has around $3 million in reserves, but as things stand at this moment, $350,000 is going to be taken from the reserves in order to keep next year’s levy increase at a more manageable level. And, as of a city council vote last week, another $350,000 is going to come out of the same reserves and be given to Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) Executive Director Craig Hoiseth and his Board of Directors to see if they can invest it wisely in things that unmistakably benefit the Crookston community. Will it be more housing rehab? A child care center? More workforce development? Land purchases for new businesses?
We as Crookston residents should feel pretty good about this development, because Hoiseth and his crew know they’re going to have to produce, i.e. spend the money on things that will bring a significant return on investment. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to spend the money just for the sake of spending the money.
The state auditor not too long ago said the City of Crookston had too big of a budget reserve. Since then, it has been whittled down, but City leaders still look, perhaps wisely so, to, at the same time, bolster it whenever they can. City Finance Director Angel Weasner and City Administrator Shannon Stassen came out against the $350,000 for CHEDA last week, saying the City would be less well-positioned, as a result, in the event of some kind of catastrophe.
Hey, we get it, it’s a legitimate concern, and we want the watchdogs of our hard-earned dollars constantly on guard. But, what catastrophe? If something happens with the levees, we have well into seven figures reserved for just such a problem. When there is an opportunity to make good things happen in Crookston, the argument that we need to not spend money in case a catastrophe happens comes up short.
Let’s see what Hoiseth and the CHEDA Board come up with first, and go from there.