Editorial: Reconsider franchise fee issue in Willmar
The Willmar City Council will face a simple decision Monday -- to reconsider the proposed franchise fee on natural gas to fund storm water and flood control projects or keep ignoring the flooding issue with their heads stuck in a flooded Willmar ...
The Willmar City Council will face a simple decision Monday -- to reconsider the proposed franchise fee on natural gas to fund storm water and flood control projects or keep ignoring the flooding issue with their heads stuck in a flooded Willmar street.
The flooding issue has been around for years and the city has never adequately addressed the problem. Granted that this is not an easy problem to address, the fact remains the flooding in southwest Willmar needs to be addressed.
The proposed natural gas franchise fee would raise an estimated $250,000 per year.
The current proposal includes a sunset provision which would end the franchise fee once the flood control projects are completed. A sunset provision must be included in the franchise fee. This is similar to the sunset option utilized on the city sales tax funding the library project.
With declining Local Government Aid funding from the state and increasing budget demands, the city of Willmar does not have adequate funding to address the storm water and flood control issues.
The City Council faces tough decisions every year on budget decisions and spending priorities. One good example last year is the Willmar Public Library budget issue -- increase the city's library funding or cut library hours.
The natural gas franchise fee is the best option available at the present time to fund storm water and flood control projects to meet the needs in southwest Willmar.
The City Council on Monday should vote to reconsider the franchise fee issue and then approve the ordinance for the next step of a public hearing in December.
It is time Willmar and its City Council get its collective head out of the water and start addressing the storm water/flooding problem.