Savage: 'One of the best' or riddled with faults?

  • Article by: DAVID PETERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2013 - 3:00 PM

Candidates for City Council seats are grousing about some of the very points Money magazine praised.

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Some of the candidates aren’t sold on Savage’s new sports dome. “These sports facilities have shown to be a boondoggle in cities all over the state,” Jeremy Seykora said.

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The powers that be in Savage were thrilled this summer to learn that on a national ranking of the nation’s best small cities, theirs had jumped from 51st place to 21st, making them one of just three Minnesota communities among the top 50.

But the fall elections for city council in Savage are shaping up as a test of how happy the residents are with some of the very points raised by Money magazine.

There are four outside challengers for two council seats, ranging from longtime residents to new arrivals, and they are raising questions about the way the city does business, from its $5 million sports dome to its ownership and investments in a restored downtown train station.

“I noticed that Chanhassen finished way above us, even though its taxes aren’t as high,” said candidate Chuck Boisvert. “Apparently you don’t have to tax as much as we do to be a liveable city.”

In the last election, some of the same issues were raised — and in a tough, spirited way by a man with inside knowledge. The incumbents prevailed. So it’s not clear that the majority of residents are all that displeased. Surveys, too, have suggested that lots of taxpayers wouldn’t mind more amenities, even if it costs more.

The general election is Nov. 5, pitting six can-

didates for two seats — those held by Gene Abbott didates for two seats — those held by Gene Abbott and Jane Victorey, who are both in the running.

Among the issues challengers are bringing up:

SPORTS DOME

The Savage council was clearly skeptical when youth sports activists came to them seeking city financial guarantees for a $5 million seasonal sports dome. But in the end they did approve it, and Money magazine singled it out as a new civic amenity.

But the challengers are uneasy about the venture.

“We’ve been told that the sports dome will pay for itself,” candidate Jeremy Seykora said. “If that is the case, why didn’t private investors make it happen on their own? Why were taxpayer dollars needed? These sports facilities have shown to be a boondoggle in cities all over the state.”

Candidate Josh Welter is concerned to hear reports that the Burnsville School District is considering building its own dome and reaching out to youth sports groups, saying existing domes are full. Edina is also mulling the idea, and if this proliferation continues, he said, the financial structure of the project could weaken.

“I would reach out to Burnsville and say, ‘Hey, we have one not far from you, let’s work on the traffic lights on 42 so you’re not stopping for every one,’ and have them use ours.”

Incumbent Victorey said she voted against the project and shares some of the same concerns, but added: “It’s here now and we need to do all we can do to make it work.”

TAX BURDEN

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