The Truth About Highway 81 Money
By Andrew Richter
Since John Budziszewski is going on about how precious this Highway 81 money is, I thought I’d go through the history of this issue.
Back in 2009 Hennepin County wanted to fix Highway 81. The road wasn’t in good shape and needed some work. However, they refused to fix it unless the city of Crystal pitched in for the cost. Personally, I found this to be absolutely disgusting that a county would try to charge a city with fixing a county road. Of course, it’s all our money, but I still felt this wasn’t right. Instead, of fighting for citizens of Crystal and standing up to Hennepin County, they weakly were going to let the county do this and they were going to levy about $534,000 on Crystal citizens to pay for it. I watched these meetings on TV and went to a few of them and John Budziszewski wasn’t there.
When my friends and I learned this was the council’s intent, we decided to organize a petition to put the issue on the ballot so the voters would have a voice in the process. Mr. Budziszewski didn’t sign our petition, didn’t help us, and wasn’t at any of these meetings.
On September 15, 2009 myself along with my Community Solutions colleague Jason Bradley and several others went in front of the city council and voice our opposition to the tax and the council’s attempt to throw out our petition. The city council and Mayor ReNae Bowman basically told us to go to hell and voted 7-0 to pass the tax onto us the citizens. So, in other words, the Crystal City Council allowed Hennepin County to “levy: Crystal taxpayers to pay for a county road. the tax was to be collected from 2010-2014, meaning they are about to expire in 2015.
John Budziszewski was not at this meeting nor did he speak about it nor did he sign our petition. Where were you?
In 2010 the Charter Commission changed the criteria for a petition which made it harder to do in direct response to our activities. John Budziszewski wasn’t at the meeting event though he was running for the city council at the time.
When I ran for mayor in 2012 one of my pledges was to return that money to the taxpayers. I wanted this for two reasons; I feared the old council would just find a way to spend that money and I thought that money should have never been there in the first place. It’s funny, I don’t remember John Budziszewski telling me he agreed with me on this issue. I don’t remember him saying, “Hey Richter, what a great idea, I agree with you!” No, he supported his liberal buddy Mayor Bowman.
Mr. Budziszewski is now revising history. He’s now acting as if he is the great defender of returning the Highway 81 money to the taxpayers. He claims that the city “promised” top return this money to the taxpayers when the money was levied. I take issue with this. I was at these meetings and I don’t ever remember that and I’d like to see some evidence of it. Like I said, the fact they would spend it was one of my fears. I also don’t ever remember Mr. Budziszewski saying he wanted to return that money to the taxpayers until he was running for re-election and now needs some issues.
Now my gut instinct is still to return that money to the taxpayers. However, their current public works fiasco has opened up my mind a bit. We could use our building fund to pay for the public works building and use the Highway 81 money to rebuild that fund. This would save Crystal taxpayers over $1 million in interest costs because we wouldn’t have to deficit spend (oh excuse me, bond since that’s not debt according to Mark Hoffman). I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on that idea, but I’m drifting in that direction. Mr. Budziszewski won’t even hear of it and won’t negotiate with the council on paying for the public works building. personally I think he should just stay home, why even come to the meetings if you’re just going to sit there and repeat campaign lies?
The bottom line is this; Mr Budziszewski did nothing to prevent the city from levying the Highway 81 money. He did nothing to stop changing the city charter to make a petition harder. He said nothing about the issue until he was up for re-election. So how now has he become the great defender of returning this money?
Again, this guy needs to go…..it’s that simple.