My trip home takes me along roads throughout Ramsey. 167th is one of them and is really in need of some work. That won't happen until 2023 and it will cost $1,463,000. It is considered an "active" road. I'll say! And where will that money come from?
Infrastructure maintenance is an absolute must in a thriving city. But how does it get paid for? It needs to be budgeted and will always become more expensive. That's the nature of growth, the more people driving these roads, the more maintenance is needed.
The franchise fee that was approved by the City Council in 2020 is a solution. This fee ensures that any Ramsey resident that pays a utility (i.e. Connexus and CenterPoint) bill will be sharing that burden on those bills. I believe that paying for road repair through assessments is a large burden for property owners. Remember that $1,463,000 for 167th? I think that the franchise fee is one way to make it fair for everyone who uses Ramsey's roads.
Do I believe it was the only way or even the best way? I trust the city staff and the city council. I know that alternatives were looked at and studied for years before the decision was made. As a council member, I would have looked at the alternatives, researched what other governments have done, listened to the experts and...most importantly, listened to what my neighbors in Ward 1 would have to say about it. Ward 1 is fairly low density population, and I believe that they would feel similar to me, but it is a question I plan on asking a lot. What are your thoughts on the franchise fee?
A thriving community has a good balance of businesses and residents. Businesses are attracted to locations that have higher populations. More people result in higher retail and entertainment sales as well as a bigger employment pool. Also, more people can lead to challenges with the infrastructure and natural resources of that community.
I believe that Ramsey has struck a good balance with having lower density residential areas on the northern side of our city and higher density residential areas on the southern side of the city. Centering most of the retail businesses in the higher density areas allows those businesses to thrive with a higher volume of customers. As you move further north through the city, the population density decreases, allowing for a more rural feel, but still having access to the retail businesses within a short driving distance.
One of Ramsey's Comprehensive Plan's strategic goals is "A Balance of Rural Character and Urban Development". I believe it will continue to be a challenge to maintain that balance, but that strategic goal is one that I will refer to as I work with my fellow council members during my time as your city council member.