Citizens of Sun Prairie, I was recently asked by a prominent fellow citizen to reconsider the claims I made in my previous Letter to the Editor.
It was felt that I mischaracterized the citizenries’ opinions on low income housing. I simply stated what I read in the Community Survey Results from the city’s ongoing Comprehensive Plan update.
In fact, this pertains to question 20 of the survey, which reads: “Please indicated your agreement or disagreement with the following statement: There is a need for more housing in the City of Sun Prairie affordable to working families and individuals.”
This is a poorly worded statement because no matter what socioeconomic class people are in, most everyone thinks housing is too expensive. The findings were 53% of homeowners and 27% of renters either strongly disagreed or disagree with the statement, and 46% of homeowners and 73% of renters agree or strongly agree with the statement.
I put more weight on the homeowners because they have skin in the game, renters not so much. I stand with my previous letter and would rather error on the side of the homeowner.
But my previous letter did not solely focus on this question alone, it also took into consideration the recurring comments posted with the questions throughout the survey. For example, in Questions 11/12, 13/14, 15, 20, 26 & 27 the recurring comment of Too many apartments was listed.
Questions 20, 26, 27 No more/too much low income housing was also listed. Again, this is what is coming from the city’s own survey.
Another response from this survey was about taxes being too high (Q 24 & 48). In looking at the city’s financial statements (Change in Net Position) for the year end 2012 it shows Property Tax revenues of $21,686,361 and for year end 2017 it shows $24,821,551 -- an increase of $3,135,190 over this five year period.
I would think that a large portion of this revenue increase is from the commercial growth on the city’s west side (this would not include the tax revenues from Mendards, Hilton Garden Inn, TJ Maxx as they were not on the tax rolls at the time of this reporting).
This leads me to ask, why do are our taxes keep increasing? It’s not like these commercial users are sending kids to our schools or the city is picking up their garbage.
In my opinion, we should be experiencing tax decreases with all of the new commercial tax revenues. The current city council likes to spend a lot of money, on a lot of things.
Past council budgets were knowledge and needs based and I feel today’s council's budgets are based on feelings and wants and not on what the residents elected them to do.
If the city’s leaders want to help out a segment of our population, how about giving relief to those who are retired or elderly living on a fixed income, instead of using this new tax revenue for things such as adding sidewalks where we already have them or using YOUR tax dollars to create an Affordable Housing Fund (Comprehensive Plan Section 7, Vol 2, action #9) to subsidize housing and the developers who build it.
Is this what the city wants? I urge the citizens of Sun Prairie to read the Comprehensive Plan and make up your own minds. Call or email your city Alder or voice your thoughts at the July 9th Plan Commission or the July 16th City Council meetings.