Vote Andrew K. Moller
For Eden Prairie City Council

Conservative Leadership for Eden Prairie
Did you know that with the passage of new U.S. tax regulations in 2017, taxpayers are now limited to a federal household income tax deduction of $10,000 for state and local taxes? It is my belief that most two-income households who own a home in Eden Prairie with a taxable market value above $300,000 will no longer receive a Federal tax deduction for the full amount of their state and local taxes. Since the Federal regulations are now in place, it is paramount that the City of Eden Prairie be extremely prudent with taxpayer money.

As of December 31, 2017, the City had $82.2 million in cash and investments. The General Fund budget for 2018 is $45.8 million, which leads me to ask: What is an appropriate cash balance for the City? The City's cash earns a very low rate of return as Investment Earnings are budgeted at $215,000 for 2018.

The City does have $37.1 million in bond debt, which has annual payments of varying amounts out to the year 2035. As many of you may recall, approximately $17 million of this debt is related to money spent, without a voter referendum, to update the swimming pool and related facilities at the Community Center.

Eden Prairie is a mature city, so I will request that City staff prepare a 10-year cash flow projection to help determine an appropriate cash balance. If a lower cash balance is appropriate, let's reduce the property tax burden on Eden Prairie residents. In addition, lower property taxes will help businesses create more jobs and improve our economy.

Exit the Liquor Business
The City of Eden Prairie should exit the liquor business. Private businesses such as Lund's/Byerly's, Costco, Cub, Haskell's, MGM, Target, Total Wine, and Walmart should be allowed to operate in Eden Prairie. The big winner would consumers with lower prices, better selection, and more convenient locations.

As an experiment, I purchased seven items on a recent trip to Eden Prairie Liquor. I then purchased the identical items at a nearby competitor. For the group of seven items, the total Eden Prairie Liquor price was 43% higher than the total cost at a private competitor in a neighboring city.

The City of Eden Prairie owns the land and building at 8018 Den Road. The building was constructed in 1996 for approximately $2.5 million. The current value of the land and building should be determined by an appraisal. Assuming modest inflation, this location could be worth over $3.5 million today if sold to the highest bidder. The City Liquor Fund had approximately $1.6 million in cash at the end of 2017. Inventory at cost was $1.2 million. If the City liquor stores are closed, it is likely that more than $6 million could be transferred from the Liquor Fund to pay for other city operations.

There is no guarantee that the current operating income level will continue. A full year of Sunday liquor sales in 2018 will increase overhead and competition will continue to take customers. The City generated $621,000 in operating income in 2017. I believe I can find enough other cost savings to replace any operating income lost after exiting the liquor business. Private businesses who purchase the City-owned Den Road location or build new store space elsewhere will pay property taxes. At the end of 2017, the pension liability for EP Liquor employees was $873,000. By exiting the liquor business, this liability will not continue to grow in future years. If $6.5 million were raised by the City in exiting the liquor business, this money could earn interest income. At today's rates, investing that $6.5 million in 10-year U.S. Treasury Notes could earn over $200,000 annually. The Federal Reserve is likely to continue its policy of interest rate increases, so it is possible that a higher amount of interest income could be earned. If the above does not cover the revenue difference and it absolutely has to be replaced, City revenue could be generated by imposing a 1/4 of 1% City sales tax on liquor sold by private businesses. This would amount to five cents on a $20 purchase. Consumers would still win big with much lower prices from private businesses. If $10 million was spent on annual liquor purchases from private businesses, $250,000 would be generated each year.

Term Limits
It is a privilege to be elected by voters to serve in public office. I strongly support term limits for Eden Prairie Elected officials. Three 4-year terms are enough for the Mayor and the City Council to accomplish their objectives. Periodically electing new Council members who have varied backgrounds can lead to innovation and new approaches to creating a more efficient City government.

Maintain the City Infrastructure
In addition to Police and Fire service, maintaining and upgrading our City's infrastructure is one of the Eden Prairie City Government's primary responsibilities. Eden Prairie's population grew from 6,938 in 1970 to 39,311 in 1990, an increase of 467%. Many of Eden Prairie's roads, bridges, water lines, and sewer lines were constructed during that 20-year period and have now, decades later, reached an age where their condition must be closely monitored. Timely snow plowing and pothole repair is important for our roads, and pipe inspection and maintenance is critical for our City's unseen infrastructure.

In 1987, during a 10-inch rainstorm, a city storm sewer that ran through my backyard collapsed. This resulted in significant erosion of the hill in my yard. Due to tight budgets at the time, almost a full year passed before the City was able to make the necessary repairs.

In 2014, a city storm sewer running through the backyard of a house on Burr Ridge Lane collapsed (see photo on right). The house was immediately condemned and the City spent $2.5 million to repair the washed-out hillside. Preventive maintenance of our city infrastructure is an essential City function that must be performed to avoid another costly storm sewer failure.

Preserve our Natural Parklands for Future Generations
Eden Prairie has 1,400 acres of preserved land for open spaces. Some of this land has an impenetrable, messy thicket of buckthorn that threatens the future of our forestland. As mature trees die due to storm damage or old age, new desirable trees have a difficult time growing due to the presence of buckthorn. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has declared buckthorn as a restricted noxious weed.

It is the City's responsibility to preserve our natural parklands for future generations. The City needs to begin controlling buckthorn. Small plants can be removed by hand and will not re-sprout. Large plants can be cut down and the stump covered or treated to prevent re-sprouting. The city of Burnsville uses citizen volunteers to help control buckthorn, while Minnetonka has experimented with using goats.

Other Potential Cost Savings
As a general rule, the people benefiting from a particular service should bear the cost of providing the service. The expansion of the swimming pool and related facilities at the Eden Prairie Community Center was funded with $17 million in bonded debt in 2014. Interest payments on this debt will total $537,162 in 2018. The Community Center has approximately 3,000 members, and I will request that City staff prepare an analysis of Community Center Operations to determine if rates should be adjusted for members and other users of the facilities. Taxpayers who do not use these facilities should not bear the burden of its operational costs.

Over the course of the past three years, the City of Eden Prairie has spent $1.58 million in outside legal fees. Given the size of this annual expenditure, I will request that the City investigate the cost-effectiveness of hiring a full time in-house attorney.

As you can see from the above issues, I have thought extensively about ways to conserve YOUR tax dollars, conserve our city's investment in its extensive infrastructure, and conserve the precious open spaces that make our city a unique and desirable place to live.

I'm a financial expert, a fiscal conservative, and a nature conservationist. I look forward to serving you by bringing these values to the Eden Prairie City Council.

If you agree with some or all of these priorities, please spread the word about me by email, social media, and friendly chats with your neighbors!

Please vote for Andrew Moller on Tuesday, November 6th.

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Prepared and Paid for by Andrew K Moller Election Committee
PO Box 44325, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Phone: 952-294-8057