Whether or not I am the mayor …. City government will continue to function …. Whether or not we have a sand mine …. Life will go on ….
BUT …. If it’s decided to pass on this mine, then we will have missed the best opportunity for job creation that’s been presented to this City in the past 30-40 years! The mine will provide 40-60 jobs paying in excess of $50-60,000 annually. Folks, this is a living wage without having to commute an hour each way to Eau Claire or the Twin Cities. And the mine just may be the catalyst needed to attract other manufacturing and industry to the community.
Glenwood City’s Schools do a terrific job of educating and preparing our kids …. only to see the best and brightest graduates move away because there are no jobs for them here. This makes no sense at all.
Quite frankly, we’re also talking about the economic survival of our City. When I was initially elected as your mayor the City was overspending its budget each year and had exhausted its reserve funds. The City was broke. Balancing the budget required the City Council to make some very difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. Eliminating the 3rd police officer was not a popular decision. Reducing the library’s budget was not a popular decision. But, they were decisions that needed to be made!
Keeping the City’s budget balanced will only become more and more difficult! The State of Wisconsin has imposed strict limits as to how much taxes can be increased. However, the City’s operating costs will continue to increase! Wages and benefits, energy costs, insurance costs, equipment costs, etc. will continue to increase. The only answer will be to make even further cuts in programs, possibly eliminating some. Will we cut the budget for fire and ambulance protection or the library? Do we cut the budget for police protection or the community center? Do we cut snow plowing or the pool and summer recreation program? These will be very difficult decisions but they will have to be made.
However, there is an answer to this dilemma. If the mine property is annexed into the City it will generate between $100,000 – 200,000 in additional revenues, each year, for the City. This will be in the form of additional real estate tax revenues and royalty payments, based on the number of tons of sand mined. This mine would allow us to avoid the unpleasant and unpopular cuts to many important programs and instead be able to think about possibly building a new library, a new city office building and senior citizens center, improving the little league ball fields and swimming pool, additional playground equipment in the city parks, contribute more to help the annual Rustic Lore Celebration, developing a new industrial park…. things that will be difficult, if not impossible, to do without the mine.
The sand mine is an incredible opportunity!!!!!! History will judge us poorly if we refuse to take advantage of it.