Letters to the editor

More money for lifeguards?

Does the Minneapolis Park Board really need $50,000 for “more lifeguard hours at city beaches” in 2011 budget? Really?? For the first time in memory our kids had FUN last summer at Lake Harriet snorkeling, tubing, and, God forbid, water guns without being disciplined by bullhorn. Put the money toward plowing my street faster and let the kids have fun at the lake.

Beth Ashbrook

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Can’t buy holiday happiness

I just wanted to send you a quick thank you for [Jim Walsh’s] piece about not relating.

Somehow I thought it was just me, wondering who all these people buying cars/diamonds for their near and dear were. Because it is certainly not me, or anyone I know.

I have my ’96 VW chugging along, making it through the snow, heating still working. It is rusty, but a runner, so I can’t complain.

It just seems like they are trying to set everyone up for a miserable year of comparing gifts and worth. And it can’t be measured with big red bows.

Kellie Cameron
Calhoun

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Praise for ‘Wild City’ column

Thank you for Mary Jean Port’s column “Darkness and Light.” The quality and depth of the writing were the first hints that drew me in.

Then Mary Jean’s willingness to “tell the world” that when she was in her 30s, “still trying to imagine myself into my life,” she lay on the bed gazing out the window at the sky. She admits she lay there for hours, and “watched the afternoon light ever so gradually dim to dusk, then to semi-dark, then to dark.”

For hours she lay in bed and watched. Was this in December? The month of mad shopping, with the added wildness of 17 inches on the ground and more coming! What about moving her car this side and that? What about the children of the Sudan, at least?

Mary Jean, in her 30s, had the need to be contemplative in a world of whirlwinds. She said, “I could say that lying there put me in touch with my animal nature … mostly I was in touch that day with how accessible peace actually is, if I can only open myself to it.”

What if we all had the courage to lay down for a day and allow peace to settle in our bones?

Jan Bucher  
Lynnhurst

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Irked by property tax spikes

I moved to my little cottage house in October, 2006. This has been a very expensive endeavor that continues.

Evidently, I bought when the market was at it height. I wonder about that, for the prices were also going down. I would have to make this house livable, as there was much work that was needed. I did make some small improvements, but never expanded this little house. Yet, my taxes went up, I believe every year since I have lived here.   

I find it unbelievable that when a person improves their property and do what is right — they are penalized. Again, I was really stunned when I opened the tax proposal for 2011. My taxes went up 17.9 percent!  

This is outrageous, especially in these hard economical times, inflation that keeps getting worse, good paying jobs are scarce or outsourced, people are stressed to the max and stretched to the max.

Worst of all, is the government waste. And, many of the wealthy that have created their own tax havens, because they know how and have the connections to avoid paying certain taxes. Why hasn’t this been addressed?

There is a solution, but being taxed to death isn’t one of them. I called and complained about my own taxes. The value of my house has gone down and my taxes raised 17.9 percent. So, I have called and sent an e-mail. Power to the people. Let our people be free from oppression and depression.

Patti Zona
Linden Hillsa

Letters to the editor

Hodges on the city’s budget

I would like to respond to Cam Winton’s Nov. 29th letter to the editor. Unlike his previous letter, Mr. Winton calls for specific cuts within the General Fund. While Mr. Winton’s proposed cuts would not be inconsequential, what additional cuts to make in the 2011 budget is precisely the issue before all of us.

While there may be disagreements about what cuts are appropriate, I have been heartened to hear from many of you about cuts to property tax funded services you would and would not accept. To reduce proposed property taxes, further cuts to core services are unavoidable.  

I am proposing changes to the budget that responsibly reduce the levy and slow the growth of property taxes overall. By the time this letter goes to press these proposals will have been debated and voted on by the Council. While I can’t say what the outcome of that debate will be I have heard and taken to heart the comments I have received from my neighbors. My goal is to reduce this year’s tax burden without compromising our long-term fiscal health.

I would also like to correct Mr. Winton’s reading of the proposed budget. When I say the $17.7 million increase in funding for pension obligations is responsible for the proposed maximum levy increase of $17.4 million that is the truth. The quote from the proposed budget Mr. Winton calls “inaccurate” in fact describes the sources from which those obligations are to be paid. 

The overall point remains, and that’s why I’m fighting hard for pension reform. Because if we didn’t need to pay $17.7 million in pensions, we wouldn’t need to raise the property tax levy by $17.4 million.

Please call me at 673-2213 or e-mail me at [email protected]  if you have any further questions.

Betsy Hodges
City Council Member (13th Ward)

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Another take on taxes

I saw a letter to the editor in your Nov. 1–14 publication by Mark W. Reiling.

His comments and implications that our property tax system is unfair to the commercial sector and that the business community is subsidizing the homeowners, is like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. The taxing of commercial property is very different from taxing the homestead property. The commercial property owners include the property tax liability in their annual business model. The best examples are the tenant leases. All the leases include a factor for property taxes. Most business establishments lease their space and as such do not have to worry about property taxes. Even apartment building owners pass the cost of property taxes to the tenants.

However, the homestead owner does not have the luxury to do the same as the commercial property owners because the home is not a business establishment that can pass the cost of property taxes to any consumer. We have a glaring fact that nobody wants to understand. And that is: Why can every homeowner afford our income tax, but not every homeowner can afford our property taxes? There is a solution for fair taxes on the local level. But that won’t happen until people realize that the present tax base needs to be changed. The local tax will never be fair as long as it is based on the assessor’s opinion. In the same neighborhood where Mark Reiling lives, it is not uncommon to see two households pay $5,000 each in annual property taxes, while one household has $250,000 income and the other only $25,000 income. Who is subsidizing who in this situation? That is not an isolated incidence. It is happening all over where the not so wealthy are subsidizing the wealthy.

Juris Curiskis
Bryn Mawr

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Fired up about taxes

With all due respect, the purpose of my communication, since I could not attend the hearings is to say: Stop the madness!

What I think our City Council members have missed, and was amply seen at the first hearing, is the anger at the city for acting as if our pockets are infinite. I, like everyone who spoke at the hearing, am simply stretched too far to be able to afford this. We the people cannot afford this, we are not getting raises [if any] in income to match what you want to take out of our pockets.

As those who works for my fellow citizens, I will remind you, we “hired” you, and we will, if you do not do the job to our satisfaction, “fire” you when the next elections come around.

Please don’t say, “our job is to run the city, and this is what we have to do, to do so under the current conditions.” Find another way.

Brent J. Christen
Fulton

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Perplexed by property tax hike

I just received my 2011 proposed property tax increase form in the mail this week. It is slated to increase 17.1 percent. Really???!! Like many other homeowners, I’m sure, I have not received a raise at work in two years. Where is this money supposed to come from? I am stretched pretty thin already. I am astounded to think that budget shortfalls are going to be made up on the backs of property owners. Again.

How about something more equitable? Clothing tax anyone? I believe it is unfair and unreasonable to expect the city to “go to the well” to cover budget shortfalls. This homeowner’s well is dry.

Joan Chartier
Fulton

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Compliments for Walsh

Thanks Jim (Jimmy) Walsh, for yet another great, inspiring, heartfelt, uplifting, etc., read: “Enjoy Every Sandwich”! I was just “ruminating,” in a good way about Rilke’s valuable letter to us all, when I caught your column.

Nancy Stege
Southwest

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Nice words for the Journal

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all involved in the Southwest Journal. I am so glad there is a paper out there that reports the good news stories.

I especially enjoy the write-ups of local restaurants and also the information articles that help us know what is going on in our community.

Thanks again.

Mary Knutson
Tangletown