New Hope To Double Down on Bad Decision

February 9, 2018 at 1:59 pm Leave a comment


Green Step

by Jason Bradley

Ok, it’s no secret that we rarely agree with much of anything New Hope does. From a $25 million bond for the new police station/city hall project, to giving a developer a $6.574 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district over 23 years and a $350,000 loan for a single luxury apartment complex, to major property tax increases annually, to assessing franchise fees, to refusing to allow a citizen to sit in the “citizen seat” on West Metro Fire, to… well, we could go on forever. This city wouldn’t know a good idea if there was grant money attached to it.

That brings us to another beaut of a decision. New Hope is discussing increasing its involvement in the MN Green Step Cities program. You can read the article I saw in the Sun Post here. Here’s a little history: New Hope joined Green Step back in January of 2015. They are at step three of five, and looking to advance to step four. They have completed 76 actions. There are a whopping 120 out of Minnesota’s 853 cities that are involved in Green Step. That’s 14% of Minnesota cities, not a great percentage.

First off, somebody needs to create a BINGO game for our blog and podcast. One of the spaces would certainly be “City Staff Pushes Idea”. Well, guess what? You can mark that square. Another space would be “decided in a work session”. If you were next to the free space, you are already 3/5 of the way to BINGO! Are work sessions a bad thing? Not necessarily, so long as there is a record of the discussion. New Hope does put their packets up on their website, but you have to physically attend the meeting to know where elected officials really stand on issues, and catch it early enough to give feedback to the city before decisions are already made. Maybe someday recorded work sessions will be an expectation in most cities.

Green Step is often referred to as a “free and voluntary” program. Maybe it is to join, but that’s the end of it. MN Green Step Cities are much like the Columbia House or BMG CD Club. Remember that? You can get 10 CDs for a penny, and all you have to do is buy eight more at $20 a piece over the next two years. Not every step in Green Step is bad. Like this one: “Efficiently use existing fleet of city vehicles by encouraging trip bundling, video conferencing, carpooling, vehicle sharing and incentives/technology.” Less wear and tear on city vehicles will save money in the long run. When cities join, they often have already met some of the criteria, and can find themselves completing eight actions to get to Step Two quickly. But once they get you in the door, that’s where the “free” ends. How free do these steps sound? “Provide a financial or other incentive to private parties who add energy/sustainability improvements, meet the SB 2030 energy standard, or renovate using a green building or energy framework.” “Replace city-owned parking lot/ramp lighting with Dark-Sky compliant, energy efficient, automatic dimming lighting technologies.” “Modify a street in compliance with the city’s complete streets policy.” There are plenty more just like those. You have to complete 70 steps to get to Step 3. That’s a bit of an investment. There are plenty of restrictions and mandates listed in those steps, as well. It really is not free in any sense of the word. See all New Hope’s actions on the Green Step website.

How do you get to Step 4? New Hope will have to implement additional steps, but agree to keep metrics on those steps as well, with reporting to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. With those steps come massive restrictions and regulations. They measure things like: City Population: Vehicle miles traveled per person, per day; new affordable housing units as a percent of all new housing units; Residential gallons of drinking water used per person per day; or Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from travel, Tonnes CO​2e. But hey, I’m sure It’s still free and voluntary to maintain this level of membership. New Hope estimates it will take 100 staff hours to complete this step (also not free), and are inclined to do this incrementally over time, rather than make a big push. Isn’t 100 hours over time still 100 hours? Won’t 100 hours cost more over time with staff pay raises and benefit increases?

We have always asserted that this program is the local Cap and Trade club. I’ve made the case above. Judge for yourself. Listen to our podcast on the subject. Here we have a city that hasn’t ever met a regulation or a spending project that they haven’t liked. Yet, not one person in the City of New Hope wants to throw their hat in the ring and do something about it. You have a city just to the east that has made a stand to become debt free, put hidden taxes into public view, eliminate outdated and restrictive regulations… and New Hope keeps doing things as they always have.

If you live in New Hope and are sick and tired of this, there are two seats up for grabs this year. You know were to find us…

 

Jason Bradley is an entrepreneur in the music industry (Jason Bradley Live and Paper Lanterns Intl) and owns a consulting/advocacy/education firm that specializes in non-partisan politics (Community Solutions MN). Jason Bradley helps others to reach their goals in music and reduce the size and influence of government.

Jason on Google+

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