Four are running for two seats on Burnsville City Council
Redevelopment, taxes, landfills and a brand new hole in the city’s upcoming budget were among the topics discussed Monday at a Burnsville City Council Candidates Forum.
Three-term holders Dan Kealey, Jim Bradrick, Ryan Fagan and Vince Workman are running for two four-year terms. Fagan did not attend the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce sponsored forum at the Diamondhead Education Center. Bradrick and Workman are past chairs of the Burnsville Planning Commission, on which Workman still sits.
The candidates agreed that the city’s main problem was shutting down and moving the trash into the old freeway landfill west of Interstate 35W and south of the Minnesota River before mining at proximity does not cease in many years and the water table does not shift, threatening to contaminate groundwater that comes into contact with garbage. The closure of the Superfund site will also leave developable land in the large area known as the Minnesota River Quadrant, which officials want to redevelop.
As city, state and federal authorities have been fighting over the freeway dump for years, an impending waste slowdown from the Burnsville active sanitary landfill west of the freeway poses a new challenge to the finances of the city.
Owner Waste Management wants to allow more municipal solid waste to landfill because there is much less demand for the space allocated to it for construction waste. Under current permits, the company has around three years of capacity for municipal waste and may have to start diverting waste to out-of-state landfills from next year.
That could reduce hospitality costs for the city’s landfills by around $ 520,000 in 2019. The city now receives $ 1.3 million, including $ 1 million in the general fund, Kealey said.
Having already approved a maximum levy increase of 4.9% for 2019, the council cannot raise taxes to fill next year’s hole. The loss of revenue would continue over the years until the landfill obtained a new permit.
âThe solution is going to be a mix of (spending) cuts and looking at other sources of revenue,â Kealey said.
He indicated his support for an increase in the city’s utility franchise fees, which are levied on all properties whether or not they pay property taxes. Kealey called the franchise fee a âuser feeâ.
Bradrick has agreed to review the franchise fee, which he says is used for the recently completed police station renovation and will be used to replace Fire Station 1.
The budget hole “can affect services and not,” Bradrick said.
Workman said he wanted a new tax base to cover the shortfall, not higher property taxes or utility charges.
âI would love to see an economic renaissance in Burnsville, where people are knocking on our door to rebuild,â Workman said. âUnfortunately, I don’t know what’s going on right now. What we need to do is look in the mirror and understand why.
Kealey said: “Development will come, but it won’t come fast enough to save us this year.”
The chamber asked candidates for their position on adding a local option sales tax, which the board began discussing this year and is expected to resume next year. The chamber opposes the tax, which would require voter approval in a referendum and empowerment of state law.
Kealey and Bradrick too. Workman said it deserves further study, noting that West St. Paul was putting a local sales tax question on its November ballot to raise money for the Robert Street reconstruction.
In Burnsville, council member Dan Gustafson suggested considering a sales tax to fund more aggressive economic development efforts.
âIt certainly wouldn’t be my first option when looking at economic development,â said Workman, âbut I think we need to spend more time determining if this makes sense for Burnsville.â
The tax would hurt retailers in Burnsville, which is a short drive from other towns with many of the same department stores, Kealey said. Bradrick noted that state law requires local sales taxes to be tied to a specific investment project, which may not be the situation in Burnsville.
The candidates trumpeted a new era in development and redevelopment, thanks in part, Kealey said, to the 2016 election which defeated the council’s long-standing majority against new apartment projects in Burnsville.
âAnd so the policy fell and the floodgates opened,â he said. “There are six (apartment) projects coming up.” Totaling over $ 150 million, they offer plenty of gear that is appealing to millennials and empty nesters, Kealey said.
Workman touted his “independent voice” as town planning commissioner, including a minority vote in June against the denial of a senior housing developer’s request for a siding material waiver. The board ultimately sided with him and the developer, saving up a $ 24 million project, Workman said.
“I will be fighting very hard for more development in Burnsville and redevelopment, and I am ready and eager to work with the candidates to find common solutions, which will ultimately benefit the City of Burnsville,” he said. . .
The area of ââdowntown Burnsville and the still unfinished core of the city are also new development opportunities, the candidates said.
There are “opportunities galore in this parking lot around the mall,” Kealey said. “It might be an impermeable surface now, but I envision a lot of exciting buildings.”
Kealey, 60, touted several accomplishments during his tenure including spearheading the city’s economic exit from running the GARAGE teen center to an after-school partnership with the YMCA and school district 191; his work in bringing the annual Heart of the City run to Burnsville; and challenge municipal rather than private management of adult recreational leagues. His proposals didn’t work with the rest of the board, but the investigation still resulted in annual savings of $ 50,000, said Kealey, director of marketing and new business development for Rixmann Cos.
Bradrick, 53, said he has run businesses that mirror the size of Burnsville government for 28 years. He ran for the board in 2016 and sits on the boards of the Fire Muster and the Burnsville Community Foundation. He is a member of the city’s Mobile Volunteer Network.
âI don’t have a problem to fix,â said Bradrick, director of operations for Branson Builders and Contractors. âI think the city is well run today. But I think we have quite a few tough decisions to make in the near future, and I bring my 28 years of business experience, successes and failures to the stage to help me with those decisions.
Workman, 32, is the owner of Workman Insurance Agency in Burnsville and the son of former board member and current Dakota County Commissioner Liz Workman. He sits on the Fire Muster board and has said he spearheaded the decision to make admission free. He sits on the chamber’s public policy council.
âBurnsville is a place that I have called my home all my life,â Workman said. âI biked here, went to church here, played sports here, graduated from high school in Burnsville. I bought my first home in Burnsville with my beautiful wife, Andrea, and we are raising two boys who will be students in our schools in Burnsville. Burnsville is our home.