Lora Walker Updates
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JAIL WILL BE BUILT ASAP!
April 6, 2016 Update -The Chisago County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 (Walker voted NO) to award 32 contracts with various construction firms and begin building the new jail complex and law enforcement center. Sheriff staff in the audience applauded the vote. It is still unknown if the State will contribute any money toward the project. There has been no action on HF 737 or SF 738. Board majority did not hesitate to move ahead, without State funding, to break ground this spring. The financial plan reflects a higher interest rate for the 20-year mortgage than originally planned. Board members praised themselves calling it levy neutral before their re-elections. Mortgage payments will not begin until 2018
Feb. 7, 2016 UPDATE: "Currently, there are about 1,440 vacant beds in Minnesota jails, according to DOC data." Several Chisago County Commissioners plan to build a law enforcement complex this spring, adding 125 more beds (more hotel vacancy), to the statewide jail system. A new state-of-the-art building billed to local property taxpayers.
For your information - A promotional brochure (campaign flyer) attempting to justify building a new jail is being distributed in the community. It was prepared and printed using your tax dollars. However, NO tax funding was used to prepare this document.
Reasons why I voted NO to building an expensive new jail:
Commissioners are counting on you to believe NO levy increases will be required to pay for this project. Decide for yourself.
1. Old Jail should be demolished. This is one thing all commissioners agree. For many years, the old jail building was not properly maintained due to campaigns to build a new jail. It was easier to "justify" building something new if the old structure was falling apart. As a direct result, it has failed to meet the high standards of the Dept. of Corrections (DOC) and has become functionally obsolete.
2. NO outside, independent assessment of options. Jail options were only analyzed by county staff. NO independent review or analysis was conducted. It was agreed, however, that financial misstatements were made but never corrected. This was very disappointing. Treating or affecting all plans equally cannot occur if the only analysis is conducted by an interested party. Anyone who can reasonably benefit from the end result cannot be considered or viewed as impartial to only the facts.
3. Questionable financial plan. The financial plan designed to pay for the new jail could have been approved years ago, but wasn't because it is unwise, and may not cover the debt for 20-years. The plan relies heavily on County Program Aid (CPA) $500,000 per year (represents a 1.5% levy increase) but this historically has been a very volatile source of funding as any local elected official would agree.
There have been years where this funding has been cut significantly to both counties and cities with no other way to pay for service without raising taxes. It is akin to relying on future inheritance, or a gambling jackpot, to pay your home mortgage payment.
If we had approved this in the past, during a year when CPA funding was reduced by over $700,000, a mortgage payment would have required a substantial levy increase. CPA funds will also not be available for other essential services like capital improvement projects for county roads.
4. Mortgage payments cost more than what we were paying for service. The annual mortgage payment for the new jail almost triples our previous budget to $1.35 million. In order to make that large payment, we MUST keep budgeting $500,000 each year (money budgeted last year for out-of-county inmate boarding). The big problem? Seven out of the past eight years* we spent much less than $500,000. *See out-of-county spending below.Read more...
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A proven leader for Chisago County, Lora Walker is committed to providing responsible leadership, guiding Chisago County into the future with vision, while respecting it's heritage.
We should seek to develop; not just grow in size. A delicate balance of affordable homes, provision of services to residents, reliable roads and accessible bridges, increased local employment, schools and retail, are all key to a successful, vibrant community. A community our children can look forward to living in 25 years from now. Working for the common good, as your Commissioner, I will continue to advocate for a community that is balanced and sustainable.
We don't often talk about our County's financial position. I feel we must meet citizen's needs without taxing them out of their homes. I understand the impact of taxes on families and businesses and the importance of government spending within its means, and have worked hard toward that goal.
My work led the way with NO county levy increases 6-years in a row and tax levy DECREASES the past 2-years! My service on the County Budget Committee produced strong fiscal management resulting in our county bond rating being upgraded twice in recent years, saving many thousands of dollars in bond interest payments.
I have supported fiscal policies that cut waste, prioritized needs, and fulfilled State and Federal mandates. We deserve action-oriented, independent leadership; I believe I offer that leadership.
Information contained on this website is provided in real time as events occur, to increase transparency to local government actions, and so taxpayers in our community can easily follow current events. All informative posts are dated and can alter as time progresses and more relevant information becomes available.