City Council race in Red Wing

October 26th, 2006


Two candidate forays in one day!

There are times when this all drives me insane and I want to pack up the doggies and split to Costa Rica, where even if it’s as bad, at least I won’t understand it until I”m fluent! This “candidate forum” process, which does not allow for redirect, and lets candidates get away with non-responsive and non-sensical mumblings and strongly worded statements — no follow up at all — aaaaaaagh, it’s just all too much! It was all I could to do keep from jumping up, “OBJECTION!!!” And then there’s “assumes facts not in evidence.”

Yeah, I’ve got a bee up my bonnet. It’s about Utility Personal Property Tax. Why? Well, better read my Primer, which has links to a lot of good information and primary documents on this: Utility Personal Property Tax for Local Governments Because Xcel continues in its dogged persuit of nothing short of elimination of this tax in one way or another. I’ve reviewd this “agreement” between NSP/Xcel and the City, I’ve experienced several other agreements with NSP/Xcel where there was something else, something more, going on. I’ve had numerous conversations over the years with Brad Johnson, former County Auditor, about personal property tax. Earlier this week, I had a good chat with Marshall Hallock after approval of the agreement was delayed because they didn’t have it all there for the public to review for the hearing, all the odd pages were missing! Anyway, my talk with Marshall allayed my fears… until today…
For City Council candidates, here’s what I want each of them to ANSWER, not blather, but ANSWER:

Do you support restoration of Utility Personal Property Tax?

If no, why, and how would you replace this revenue?

If yes, why, and what would you personally do to restore it?

Why am I disgusted? First, when this question is not asked, the implicit assumption is that the tax rates will go down and we’ll get screwed — NSP will again unilaterally finagle this tax cut and leave the City (and County and School District) high and dry. One candidate, Joe Kruger, went so far as to say that he doesn’t know of any other community faced with such a dilemma — EARTH TO MARS — this has an impact on ALL communities across the state, and ones like Becker are affected even more severely than Red Wing! Utilities are regulated, and they generate not just electricity, but profits. More important, they built this nuclear plant after making a deal with the community, that they would pay utility personal property tax. In 1994, they pile people in busses to go up to the capital and lobby and lobby for “keeping the plant open” and “keeping the tax base.” Before the ink is dry on the 1994 dry cask legislation, they’re in court fighting to cut that very same tax. Then over the last decade, they’ve been trying and succeeding in cutting it legislatively, and they’ve been trying and succeeding in cutting it through the Dept. of Revenue rules. Here’s the Rules: Minn. R. Ch. 8100. And once more with feeling, here’s a “must read,” the House Research Primer on Utility Personal Property Tax, written by Mikey Bull, and others (OH, NOOOOOO, it’s been changed, revised, and no Mikey, damn, can’t post his photo with Ray for target practice), anyway, here’s the NEW & REVISED PRIMER ON MINNESOTA’S PROPERTY TAXATION OF ELECTRIC UTILITIES.
What is so difficult to understand about the fact that utiltiies remain regulated? THAT HAS NOT CHANGED!
OK, City of Red Wing council candidates, I’m going to leave messages with all of you to determine:

Do you support restoration of Utility Personal Property Tax?

If no, why, and how would you replace this revenue?

If yes, why, and what would you personally do to restore it?

What’s so hard about these equations:

Plant = Tax

Build Plant = Pay Tax

Extend Life of Plant = Pay Tax

Eliminate Tax = Shut Down Plant

I mean really, who has the power in this situation? They want to relicense this plant because it is very, very profitable for them. What gives them the right to unilaterally change the deal? What will they do, move it somewhere else (please!)? Each time we help them keep it open, help them get more casks, help them relicense, and letting them operate in our community, each time they’re screwing us over by cutting that tax.

Hey, NSP, we do indeed get it. We’re getting screwed, and we’re not getting off!

Nope, this sorry state of affairs will not do!

Now, will these folks collectively stand up?


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