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From the Mayor’s Desk – 1-30-2013

by Mayor John Larson

Well, Congress has avoided the fiscal cliff. They’ve kicked the can down the road again and delayed things for another 2-3 months. It seems that raising the debt limit has been mostly a matter of routine under presidents of both parties for decades. The opposition would make a big show of wringing its hands over the nation’s finances and then the majority would find a way to pass it. In 2006, then Senator Obama voted against raising the debt limit calling it “a sign of leadership failure.”

So what’s the best way to address this predicament? The solution from the far right is to slash spending and shrink government, despite the fact that growth in the elderly population is a big reason for rising entitlement costs, particularly Medicare. The response from the far left is to tax the rich, despite the fact that you can’t pay for everything on the back of a small number of people.

Many budget experts recommend a combination of tax increases and spending cuts so no one group of people is disproportionately burdened. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “To have a substantial budgetary impact would require large numbers of people to pay more in taxes or receive less in government benefits or services.”

According to the latest long-term fiscal outlook from the Government Accountability Office, by 2026 – just 13 years from now – if Congress acts as it has in the past on the budget, the Big 4, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and interest on the debt could suck up all federal tax revenues. In other words, by 2026 there could be nothing left to pay for anything else. Like defense, education, veteran’s benefits, medical research, food safety or national parks. You name it!

The longer we wait, the worse the picture gets. According to GAO simulations by 2032 – just 19 years from now – the Big 4 could cost 121% of all federal revenue projected to come in!

Congress needs to come together NOW! It needs to ACT! The medicine will be bitter and everybody will feel the pain. But continuing to kick the can down the road will only make the problem worse!

I’m sure many of you have noticed the old greenhouse on Syme Avenue was recently enclosed in blue plastic tarps. St. Croix County now owns the property. They acquired it by Tax Deed (delinquent real estate taxes). The county is in the process of having the property appraised. It will then be advertised for sale with the county accepting bids. It is my understanding that an acceptable bid must at least equal the appraised value. If no bids are received that equal or exceed the appraised value then the county will rebid. This second go-around the county can accept bids for less than the appraised value. Potential investors and builders may want to be alert as the bidding process will probably start within 90 days or so. This would be an ideal location to build 2-3 new homes.