The Chamber wants voter approval for Safety Center financing. I do, too.

In Saturday’s Nfld News: Chamber board wants voter approval for Northfield Safety Center financing:

Northfield ChamberThe Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce board believes voters should decide whether to use bonds to finance a new Safety Center. Failing to do so, says board President Rick Estenson, could completely derail the project, in the works for more than four years.

The board, according to Estenson, will submit a letter to the council Monday, detailing its concerns about the vote set for Tuesday night. If the council agrees to finance the project with Capital Improvement Bonds, voter approval isn’t required. The bonds do allow for taxpayers to weigh in however, by calling for a reverse referendum. A referendum could come if opponents of the proposed bond issue get 398 registered voters to sign a petition calling for a referendum.

See pages 155-184 of the Council packet for Tuesday’s Council meeting and public hearing:

Public Hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan (Bonds);

b. Consider Approval of a Resolution 2012-054 Giving Preliminary Approval for the Issuance of Capital Improvement Plan Bonds (not to exceed $7,280,000)


  1. victor summa said:

    I’m not surprised at the Chamber’s reaction or yours, Griff. This process, while riddled with alleged transparency, has been a convoluted mess for five years. We’ve been at this precise juncture no less than 15 months ago, but that effort was slowed to a stop within weeks. In the interim virtually nothing has truly moved forward – good or bad. Just sat there and sulked.

    Well that’s not entirely true. They’ve spent more staff time and money — paid for more consultant time and money, and passed on two (count them) two pieces of property offered for a dollar each, one, about a block south of the current site to be purchased … and it even has signal light access to Highway 3. The other, a spectacular building with space to handle multiple city needs.

    Take heart. In the manner of the reverser referendum stopping action on a City Hall makeover in 2008, a citizen group has been meeting, prepping for the petitioning process to seek a reverse referendum on the Council’s decision to bond for a largely undefined capital improvement project.

    That’s bond, for a Police facility … leaving the possibility open for another CIP bonding project to renovate – improve – expand who knows (???) the existing facility at 3 and fifth street, for a Fire Barn … a site which incidentally we have been repeatedly told was underwater … so to speak.

    Evidently the water’s receded.

    UP DATE” Last Friday a letter was delivered to the City Clerk addressed to the Northfield City Council. Here’s the text of that letter written on the letter head of Grundhoefer and Ludescher, P.A. over the signature of the law firm’s associate, Matthew Rich.

    Mr Rich’s short letter reads as follows:

    Dear Northfield City Council:

    “I have recently been contacted by a group of local citizens concerned about the possibility that the Council intends to move forward with a plan to issue Capital Improvement Plan Bonding to fund the construction of a new safety center in Northfield.  I write today to inform you that should the Council pass a resolution authorizing the issuance of said bonds, the coalition of concerned citizens is prepared to meet the statutory requirements to force a reverse referendum on the issue,  A draft copy of the proposed petition is attached for your review.”

    This note and the draft form were deposited with the City Clerk on Friday 6/1/12 at about 4PM CDST.

    You will have another say. And, you may add your voice, for or against, at the Open Mic on June 5, 7PM.

    June 4, 2012
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Victor.

    Might I inquire as to who it was who delivered the note and the draft form with the City Clerk on Friday? 😉

    June 4, 2012
  3. victor summa said:

    Yeah. I sort purposefully moved past “who” leaving out specifics. There are reasons – first I’m not sure the main carrier would want to be identified – may file for office. Second, the other person has a lot of baggage, that might taint the momentum.

    I can tell you this; attendees to the Reverse Meetings was a cross section of interested and informed people. Although who, is really not too significant, It’ll come out after tomorrow’s filing closes and the Public Hearing is history. But this group plus the Chamber and the NDDC influence might yet win the day. And as always, others are welcome to chime-in … so attend the Public Hearing.

    June 5, 2012
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News: Financing for Northfield Safety Center a done deal

    In a surprise move, the city council tonight approved $7.28 million in Safety Center construction bonds — a financing decision that can’t be undone by the voters. The bonds essentially have another city entity, such as the Economic Development Authority, construct the facility while the city leases to own the building.

    The bonds carry a slightly higher interest rate than other bonds the council considered. They don’t, however, require voter approval and aren’t subject to a reverse referendum.

    June 5, 2012
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    The Nfld News article now has much more info.

    Zweifel, Councilors Betsey Buckheit and Ivan Imm and Mayor Mary Rossing initially supported the use of bonds that don’t require voter input, but the motion, which needed a 2/3 majority, failed. A prior motion to send the question to the voters also failed 3-3. Councilor Patrick Ganey was absent.

    * The article doesn’t say who voted for/against sending the question to the voters (3-3 vote)

    * The article doesn’t say who voted for/against the lease revenue bond

    And does anyone know why Patrick Ganey was absent for such a critical issue?

    June 6, 2012
  6. Jane McWilliams said:

    Voting for sending the question to the voters: Pownell, Nakasian, Imm. Voting against: Rossing, Buckheit, Zweifel.

    Voting for the lease revenue bond: Rossing, Buckheit, Zweifel, Imm. Voting against: Pownell, Nakasian

    Voting in favor of the CI bond: Buckheit, Zweifel, Imm. Voting against: Rossing, Pownell, Nakasian.

    June 6, 2012
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Thank you so much, Jane.

    I see your LWV Observer summary is now posted to the LWV blog:

    Northfield City Council Meeting – June 5, 2012

    And I would agree with your comments in the 2nd paragraph at the end:

    The lease revenue bond decision, like others the council has made, while it might make sense in the long run, seemed impromptu. Several councilors seemed unprepared for this outcome. One wonders whether all members of the council had time to seriously consider the merits and shortcomings of this funding mechanism. There definitely was a sense that several of the councilors were not in favor of letting the public decide. That seemed the primary goal and justification for the selected bonding method.

    June 6, 2012

Leave a Reply