So it is a touch surprising, and a little disheartening, to read a news story in the year 2021 that reveals the Rochester City Council has no funding plan for the ongoing operation and maintenance of these two public facilities.
Sure, the details are always fine-tuned at this stage of any big public project. But last Monday’s discussion was about some really fundamental questions. For example, whether a new $1.5 million line item in the budget (that’s an estimate -- more on this in a moment) ought to be covered by property taxpayers. Or maybe through city sales taxes. Or maybe by downtown property owners paying their Special Service District fees. Any of these potential payers might have liked to have known their role up front.
The unresolved question of “who pays” prompted some council members to talk about slow-walking the completion of these two projects until the funding sources are determined. So how essential are these amenities, then?
What’s more, it came out in the council discussion that the actual operating costs are still rather unknown.
Yes, it’s true the bill won’t come due until 2023. But significant unknowns such as these, at this stage of the game, do not inspire confidence in city leadership. Thumbs down.
By the book
The bellwether of public attractions in downtown Rochester remains the public library, with close to half a million visits per year, a circulation of about 2 million, and, in a non-pandemic year, about 120,000 people participating in its public programs.
So, when the library contemplates changing its open hours for the first time in 25 years, that’s a pretty big deal.
Thankfully, RPL isn’t going to make a change without consulting you. There’s a survey at the library’s web page, www.rplmn.org, or you can find a survey form in the library, where you were probably going anyway. Thumbs up to the library for involving the public in a major change.
We’re all in favor of kids getting outside, playing and getting exercise. A newly refurbished basketball court at a key location in our area will help allow that to happen.
The location? Prairie Island Indian Community. And the day of its opening? Indigenous Peoples Day, Oct. 11.
Minnesota’s professional basketball teams, the NBA’s Timberwolves and WNBA’s Lynx, donated the money that paid for the upgrade. That’s a good gift, given on a good day. Thumbs up.