By Linette Matheny
St. Cloud City Council, Seat 2
For years the St. Cloud City Council has annexed without properly examining the impact on City finances or our quality of life. One of the reasons I ran for office was to reform that process. In my first year in office, I have fought to create a process for critically examining any potential annexations. And just last week I made the motion to table the proposed enclave annexations because the ramifications of adding those areas to the City were still undetermined. I would like to publicly thank my fellow Council members for supporting that motion. I hope the Council will back me in adopting a sensible, formal process for evaluating annexations to use in the future.
I am also currently advocating for the creation of a Citizens’ Committee to review annexations and to help us craft a better annexation ordinance. New residents should have their way of life improved, not diminished, when they join the City. Those that have enjoyed a rural lifestyle should be able, within reason, to appropriately raise livestock and participate in 4H, along with other beneficial activities. A citizen advisory board could help us work thorough these thorny issues and provide the voice of experience and expertise directly from the community.
In addition to more closely evaluating annexation, I have worked hard to promote management of St. Cloud’s growth. That is why I led the effort to put in place higher impact fees on new development. I believe developers and new residents should bear the cost of the impact they will have on the City, not those of us already established here. Getting the fees on developers passed was a close vote, and I want to thank Deputy Mayor Askew and Mayor Blackwell for having the courage to vote to require that developers pay their fair share.
We have accomplished so much in our first year, but we still have a long way to go. We need to address our too-high water fees. We are working to enhance design and architectural standards to improve the quality of new housing in our community. And we must build on the economic development gains we have made over the past year in order to diversify our economy and bring in more commercial development.
Even though our challenges are great, I am confident St. Cloud has turned a corner and is on the right path. We have a terrific new City manager, dedicated and talented staff, and now, together, we can build a great future for St. Cloud.
As always, I want to hear from you, St. Cloud’s residents. Do you agree we should have a process to thoroughly review annexations? Do you agree new development should pay its fair share? Do you want to see enhanced design and architectural standards? Do you believe we need more commercial and less residential growth? Maybe you disagree or have other suggestions. No matter what, your opinions matter to me. Always feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.