Mary Kay Huhne
A roundtable discussion on a proposed land expansion to offset a tax base shortfall was a major focal point of a recent St. Joseph City Council work session.
The city’s largest employer, the College of St. Benedict, has the least vested in the city’s tax base. About 28 percent of property in St. Joseph is tax exempt. Yet their influence in the development and makeup of the city’s housing has much influence. An example of this was just recently the CSB/SJU students did research on parking downtown and development of East Park. Now it will be presented to the boards, but maybe more local involvement and voices should be heard!
Local planners are re-imaging land use by using a boilerplate on sustainability to duplicate cities into regions with less local oversight and more regional influence from the county and state. There are discussions of a $5 million request for state funding to build a main sewer line that would serve as a catalyst to expand industrial/business development and workforce housing.
Throughout the state this agenda for expansion of workforce housing is being discussed to increase housing density and the local tax base. The expansion of the main sewer system would more than double St. Joseph’s development area from 2,000 acres to about 4,100 acres. That would result in a need to increase its tax revenue, thus increasing a tax burden on home owners and local businesses.
Local voices need to be heard! The planning commission is looking for three residents to join the commission. They need a full commission in January; please consider getting more involved. Residents need to start paying attention to what their local officials are doing for them. Attend meetings whenever possible, go to ww.cityofstjoseph.com and look at the agenda for the month before you lose your voice and all decisions will be made by regional planners!