Author: Terry Joos
Yet another inappropriate financial request from Mayor Mars
Bill Mars approached me in the fall of 2018. He was looking for a donation to the City of half a million dollars for naming rights to the new community center pool. At that time, I told him that the utility didn’t have the funds set aside for such a donation. I also said I wouldn’t feel comfortable spending the ratepayers’ money in such a manner.
The beginning of the coup
Then, on an afternoon in 2019, I met with Bill Mars at the Muddy Cow. He wanted to discuss the points of contention between the Commission and the City Council. He presented me with a list of issues dating back to the 1960s. As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, he made a point of telling me that the City had “no intention of taking over the commission.” This comment was completely unsolicited.
I believe this was actually the beginning of the effort to take over SPUC. Mars then suggested he would set up a meeting with the city administrator, utility manager, SPUC president and himself. After Mars made this request, I asked for this meeting 18 times, and each time I was rebuffed by the city administrator.
Giving developers breaks at ratepayer expense
When I was a commissioner, Ms. Mocol approached the Commission and asked us to cut the development fees for Willy McCoy’s. A consultant reviewed our rates at that time and concluded, based on their data, that our rates were in line with the market and with our expenses.
It’s about planning for Shakopee’s future.
It seems politicians believe we have large sums of unallocated funds just sitting around in bags waiting for someone to ask for it – so it can be used for a pet project. This is not the case. All SPU funds are carefully budgeted and allocated so that dollars go in and come out only for their intended purpose.
For example, water capacity charges (WCC) are set aside to provide funds for the entire community. Everyone pays in; everyone benefits. SPUC plans carefully and works closely with the City to understand what their plans are for future expansion so that we are ready for utility demand increases due to growth and expansion.
Another prime example is the splash pad at Lions Park. We were approached to waive the water connection charge – which we did. However, the charges that would have been assessed to the splash pad were charged to the WCC account and have to be paid by someone. The deficit in that fund needs to be made up by either the existing ratepayers or future developers in increased WCC charges.
If you want the money you pay into Shakopee Public Utilities to be used as intended – for quality water and dependable electric services and responsible development, vote NO. If you don’t, be prepared to fund political pet projects.