Ok, so what do Streetlights, Airports and Rock n Roll all have in common?
They are 3 things subjects that “will never die”. (By the way, it’s taken me two days to come up with a way to tie these together!)
Let’s start with streetlights. Oh it just wasn’t that many months ago that people were lined up in front of the podium at the Bemidji City Council meeting one Monday night absolutely having a fit about paying a $2 fee per month to keep their streetlight shining. How could our elected officials think of such a plan? After a little debate and several letters to the editor, that “hot potato” got dropped quickly.
Well lo and behold I came across several articles this week. Brainerd made news by testing shutting off 27 streelights during a six month period. Their city council will vote on the proposal Nov. 2nd. It will be a combination of using timers to shut off lights late and completely keeping off others. Estimated savings is $3400, which comes to $21 per light per month. The City will be working closely with police to see if there are any upticks in crime due to the darkness.
On October 27th, the Rochester Post Bulletin ran a piece titled “Rochester Residents To Pay To Keep Streetlights On”. The article states that streetlight expense in their city is $1.4 million dollars annually The proposal would charge residences $2 per month, and commercial and industrial property $4 to $11 per light depending on size beginning in the year 2011. It would free up much needed funds after several very tight financial years.
Finally, another article in the Star Tribune titled “Streetlight Fees? Some Cities are Pondering It” dated September 19th talks about over 20 Minnesota cities have passed or are considering these fees. Forest Lake passed their streetlight fee last year. They charge EVERYONE a fee, whether you have a light or not on your property, using the logic that “everyone benefits from a well lit intersection”. Brooklyn Park has had a streetlight utility fee since 2003. Richfield is currently considering a $20 to $24 per year fee to raise $317,000. South St. Paul charges $22 per household. Minneapolis this month began charging a fee for streetlights, but only to entities that do not pay property taxes.
Bottom line: It’s coming. Cities are capped on the amount they can raise property taxes, and streetlight fees are a permissible “service charge” that cities can impose legally to put money into their general funds which are strapped. Bemidji was ahead of the curve. Its coming. It’s either going to be PAY UP or LIGHTS OUT.
Speaking of airports, about 2 blogs ago I mentioned the amount of government money being pumped into airports across the nation. How timely the St. Cloud Times article of October 23rd was in announcing that Delta would be discontinuing air service to the St. Cloud Airport at the end of the year. The richness of this is the fact that in April of this year the airport unveiled a $5 million dollar, 9000 square foot terminal expansion with seating for 200 people passengers. The article states that the project was built “with Federal Aviation money and city funds”. Nothing is even mentioned of the earlier improvements made to the airport including building a control tower. The city is negotiating with another carrier hoping to lure them into service direct to Chicago. I sincerely hope and believe that Bemidji is “safer” with their air service and their upcoming terminal expansion project than St. Cloud was with theirs.
Finally, I came across 2 YOU TUBE videos featuring one of the real great rock and rollers of all time. Del Shannon’s song RUNAWAY during its peak sold 80,000 records A DAY. The first video is a black and white of him singing the hit in1966 on the show HULLABALU. The second video is 20 years later in 1986 on a very early David Letterman show singing the same RUNAWAY song accompanied by a young Paul Schaefer. His other hits included “Hats off to Larry”, “Keep Searching” and “Little Town Flirt”. After a lot of success, he suffered from alcoholism in the 70’s and fought depression in the 80’s. He joined The Traveling Wilbury’s after Roy Orbison’s death but committed suicide in 1990. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Many said he was always true to his music and had one of the best falsetto voices in rock music.
Some things never die….especially with You Tube.
1960’s Black/White Video:
1986 Letterman Video: