Golden Valley voters approve sales tax increase for public construction projects
10:45 pmTuesday, November 7, 2023
Voters in Golden Valley chose to support a sales tax increase to fund public construction projects, approving all three questions on the ballot.
Golden Valley officials said the 1.25 percent retail sales tax increase is necessary to minimize the impact on property taxpayers, while addressing what they described as a “dire” need to replace aging infrastructure.
The “Building Forward Golden Valley” investment plan will direct funds to build a new public works facility and a new public safety building for police and fire services.
For Question 1, the vote was 53.3% in favor (3,053 votes) to 46.7% in favor (2,675 votes) of using the 1.25% retail sales tax to purchase land for a new public works building.
Question No. 2, applied to construction of the new public works facility, was approved by voters by a narrow majority of 51.5% to 48.5% (2,936 votes in favor and 2,763 votes against).
Regarding Question No. 3, the decision to build a new public safety facility with the tax came with a majority of 3,081 votes, or 53.9 percent, in favor, and 2,635 votes, or 46.1 percent, against.
Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green pointed to the cramped spaces and inadequate locker rooms at the current police station during an interview with “The Connection”‘s Jenna Globe.
“This women’s locker room does not meet the standards of what we would like to see our female police officers come to work wearing overalls,” Green said. “It’s a very small, confined space, and there’s very limited space when it comes to showering. So this sales tax initiative would go a long way in improving conditions for both men and women.”
Green believes the new facility will meet the growing demands of the police department and provide more space for officers and storage of evidence and property.
Concerns addressed to firefighters and public works
Meanwhile, firefighters demonstrated how a new public safety facility can help the city support the 24/7 crew model.
“Our facilities here in Golden Valley do not have any rest or sleeping areas,” Golden Valley Fire Chief John Creeley told Gloeb. “We have set up cots in the offices that we use for all our daytime activities here, which is far from ideal.”
Creeley raised concerns about the ability to attract and retain firefighters if the referendum is not approved.
“We recruit and compete against other fire departments. We have firefighters changing clothes next to trucks that are emitting exhaust, which is unsafe.”
A new public safety building will change that. The new facility will eventually be built on the site of the existing public works facility downtown. Construction will take place as soon as the new public works facility is ready for use.
Tim Keifer, Golden Valley’s public works director, said the current facility is too cramped for its modern fleet of plows.
“You can’t open the door when all the plow equipment is on,” Kiefer said.
Kiefer also stressed the need to move the Public Works Department out of the downtown area to minimize disruption to nearby residents, especially with the department’s 24-hour operations.