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Blue Zones, Micro-Enterprise could eat away city general fund reserves

This news story was published on December 16, 2012.
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MASON CITY – As the City Council continues to ponder potential major tax revenue losses from a very real possibility of commercial property tax cuts initiated by Governor Branstad, at least two projects this city council launched have a strong chance to eat away at the city’s reserve funds.

According to this week’s city council meeting packet, the Blue Zones innitiatve is “100%” over budget and “no budget was set” for the project.  The city continues to pay wages for employees serving the project as well as costs for supplies and other needs.  For example, in November, the city spent over $1,000 at D&D Sales on office supplies for the Blue Zones program.  No council member has publicly addressed the costs associated with the Blue Zones project, nor asked for firm answers on what the total costs will be.

Additionally, the council will seek to pursue a bicycle and pedestrian master plan that is a requirement for the city to become a certified Blue Zones community.  The cost is projected to be $45,000.  City staff is proposing that this item be paid for through local option sales tax revenues.

Another project this council strongly pursued is Micro-Enterprise, a partnership with NIACC’s Pappajohn Center, to aid small businesses in Mason City.  According to the packet, the program is 19.46% over budget at this time as the city paid “start-up” costs for 3 local businesses.  General fund reserves will be used to pay the costs.  In the check register section of the packet, a payment of $2,602.67 under Micro-Enterprise was made to Oak Leaf Comics.  The city has paid Jumper Fitness $3,450 for sidewalk repairs.  The city also made at least two payments to Roller City for $1,981.53 and $1,752.09.

At a council goal-setting session held last week, council members indicated they are strongly considering creating a list of departments or services that could be cut so that they are ready to deal with the state government’s possible commercial property tax rate cuts.  Those cuts could amount to $200,000 the first year they are in affect, and then $400,000 the second year, up to $1,000,000 or more as the years progress.

Council member Scott Tornquist suggested a list $600,000 deep, which could include Highland Golf Course, Mason City Human Rights, and more.  The council may ask for input on what might be on the list.

Watch council discussion on December 4th of the cost of the Blue Zones initiative:



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10 Responses to Blue Zones, Micro-Enterprise could eat away city general fund reserves

  1. Avatar

    Katie Reply Report comment

    December 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Governments have no business being involved in projects like Blue Zones. Projects like this need to be funded and run by foundations, not governments. These types of projects are NOT the purpose of government and neither are the placement of sculptures. Government has gone so far off the path of what it what it was created to do. It needs to get back to basics and get rid of the frills. We can’t afford them.

  2. Avatar

    Tell the whole story Reply Report comment

    December 17, 2012 at 10:08 am

    First off a commercial tax cut will include funding for local governments if revenue is lost. Seems to me Mr. Tornquist is trying to bandage something that has yet to bleed while forgeting the wounds that they already caused. Second if the rate gets cut then maybe they should be looking to attract business not discourage by cutting service and amenities.

    • Avatar

      LVS Reply Report comment

      December 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

      @Tell The Story-are you suggesting that Turncoat could have another agenda altogether and might, just might, use this as a excuse to get rid of departments and other things he personally doesn’t like or understand? Would Turncoat do anything like that? In my opinion of course he would, if his master “the fat man” told him to.

      • Avatar

        a citizen Reply Report comment

        December 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

        @LVS – For once I am really surprised. You may not like or even respect Mr. Tornquist or Mason City’s mayor. But I believe it was beneath you to disrespect them the way you did in your article. I may not agree with all you write, but you have always been courteous, insightful and objective. And for these qualities, I have always held you in the highest regard. That ends here.

      • Avatar

        LVS Reply Report comment

        December 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

        @Citizen-sorry you feel that way, but you can tell by my post that I have absolutely no respect at all for Totnquist or our mayor. They are both proven liers who will do or say anything to get what they want and I don’t like them. If you no longer hold me in the highest regard I am sorry but I can not help the way I feel about these people. I have lived in this town for close to 70 years and we have had some self serving and even crooked city leaders but this bunch in my opinion is right up there with the worst of them. When the start doingthe job they were elected to do and quit showing favortism for the elite I might change my mind. Until then, I have seen enough. Sorry for the rant.

      • Avatar

        LVS Reply Report comment

        December 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

        @Citizen-see there. You got me excited and then I satrted making typos all over the place. I meant “Tornquist” of course. And again, I am sorry you feel that way but this is my opinion.

  3. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    December 17, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Matt-Thank you for the information. Obviously, there was nothing on this in the GLOB or on KIMT as they support all of the wasteful spending of our city council. And, Thank you Sandy for asking the tough questions. It could not have been easy for you to get up in front of that bunch of elites. This report does not surprise me at all. I have been accused of being negative but there is a hard and fast reason for my negativity. It is called experience. Watch out now. They will want to cut back on services to fund their pet projects.

    • Avatar

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      December 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

      It has always been NIT’s role to report what the Glob and the TV station masquerading as a news outlet will not. You will notice that the same news item may be covered by NIT and others, but our story is always a stark contrast. That is because we report the truth and include as much information as possible. We are trying to inform the public with real facts, with no cover-ups for the elite. Appreciate your readership.

  4. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 17, 2012 at 8:02 am

    You will have blue balls working to pay for your eleite BS . It’s all smoke and mirrors or rusted worthless statues – take your pick and buy some tar and feathers.

  5. Avatar

    sandy servantez Reply Report comment

    December 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I went to the city council meeting the first of Dec and told the council they had a lot to answer for when it comes time to do the budget for the next year. How many things are going to be cut so they can have what the wanted. I brought up the Statues and the Blue Zone. Everyone on the council got what they wanted at the expense of the tax payers. Now the hard part comes they are going to start telling us what is important and what isn’t and are hands are tied. I no know one whats to talk about elections this soon after the one we just had but I hope you keep in mind that less than a year from now you have a chance to let your voices be heard because they are not being heard now.