Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stillwater has troubled waters

Early this year I posted a commentary about the City of Stillwater, Minnesota raising the property tax on Loome Books in Stillwater by 50% thus forcing the store's owner to close one of his two stores since his budget did not plan for such a substantial - unjustified if you ask me - property tax increase. At the time I called this action the "worst form of government book burning" because tax policy forced a book store to close thus reducing the availability of books/knowledge.

So today's newspaper brings incredible news from Stillwater, Minnesota. I am amazed how government works (doesn't work in this case) as evidenced by the news that the Stillwater Library plans to "cut hours to save money" ( .

So the city government-operated library which is funded by property taxes taken from businesses like Loome Books is now cutting its business hours to save money even though Loome Books was given a 50% property tax increase. So the vital question here is -- "where the hell did all the tax money go that the city raised?"

Mayor Ken Harycki of Stillwater is quoting saying, "We spent many millions of dollars building a first rate facility, and it seems a shame to close it." A shame indeed but who did the budget planning for this facility? Even worse from a local business impact perspective is news from the library's director, Lynne Bertalmio, is says they will pursue new rental revenues to meet their budget gap by renting out the library for "weddings, graduation parties, birthday parties.." in direct competition with local venues that offer such services I am certain.

Bottom line -- the residents of Stillwater have a local book store (not one of those hated "big box stores" but a main street business taxed out of business to raise more funding for the city government only to see their library's business hours reduced.

A double loss,


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