2/21/2013 9:29:00 PM CF mayor gives "State of the City" talk to chamber
by Ken Haggerty
The state of the city continues to be strong, Mayor Robby Robinson told a Cannon Falls Chamber of Commerce breakfast crowd on February 14. The Mayor says the City is diligently planning, is fiscally responsible, provides excellent services and is a great place to live and raise a family.
The Mayor looked back over his four years in office, noting tough times with the economy, overseas wars, and natural disasters. Robinson said uncertain times require cities to become more cautious when planning budgets, projects and programs. He said Cannon Falls has done this, but by working together as a community "we have been able to get through these tough times without having to cut services or raise the levy."
Robinson noted this has been done while the State cut Local Government Aid by $550,000 since 2008, with another $40,000 cut possible.
Robinson said budget cuts have been made with no major effects on city services. The city tax levy was reduced two percent in 2010, kept level in 2011 and 2012 and lowered by 1.3 percent for 2013. Robinson acknowledged that residential property values have dropped 15 percent, resulting in higher tax burdens on commercial and business properties, but said he thinks residential property values have now stabilized.
While cutting budgets and lowering the levy over the last four years, Robinson highlighted that the city has moved forward with large capital projects including a remodel and expansion of the fire hall, purchasing a ladder truck, new street and utilities work on the West Side, and has plans to do street and utility work on the East Side in 2013 and is a partner in the Hwy. 52 interchange project that is supposed to start in 2013.
The Library project was also highlighted by Robinson. He thanked the library foundation, library board and library building committee for a building "the city can take pride in."
Looking forward, Robinson noted two year agreements are in place with city employees that offer "reasonable pay increases and address health insurance costs by capping city contributions."
The city's healthy fund reserve of 57 percent will allow the city to continue with some capital purchases and help keep future levies low, said the Mayor. The city maintains a AA- bond rating, which helps save on bonding cost for infrastructure projects, said Robinson.
In looking at city business activity over the last four years, Robinson highlighted getting Twin City Container into the Midwest Distribution Center in the industrial park and getting Progressive Rail in the Malt House property.
The Mayor also noted industrial park expansion by Lorentz Meats in partnership with Organic Valley and possible future growth by Robinson Outdoors and World Food Processing in the industrial park.
Looking at 2012 and the City's Economic Development Authority activity, Robinson mentioned Cannon Valley Winery buying the Lee Chevrolet property; Jeff and Bobbi Thomas purchasing, renovating and opening the Quik Stop convenience store on the North Side; Gemini building a new warehouse and planning for future growth; ArtOrg buying the former bowling alley by the VFW/Legion for locating their operations; and Karl Molenaar's new clinic off of Hwy. 20 on the North Side.
Other city business building projects from 2012 that came through the Council or EDA noted by the Mayor include Strike Tool, Cannon Power Sports, Casey's General Store, Chugger's and the Cannon Falls Agri-Center.
Looking at 2013, Robinson said the City is working to facilitate Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls with plans to build a new facility on the south end near Hwy. 52 in 2013 and to redevelop the current Mayo site, possibly as residential use.
Robinson said reviewing tax values in the industrial park, as established by Goodhue County, is a 2013 priority, as are efforts to develop around the new interchange and hospital and the downtown area.