Golden Valley Voters Approve Sales Tax Increase for Public Building Projects
Voters in Golden Valley chose to support a sales tax increase to fund public building projects, approving all three questions on the ballot.
Officials in Golden Valley said the 1.25 percent retail sales tax increase was needed to minimize impact on property taxpayers, while also addressing what they describe as a “critical” need to replace aging infrastructure.
The “Building Forward Golden Valley” investment plan would direct funds to construct a new public works facility and a new public safety building for police and fire services.
For Question No. 1, the vote was 53.3 percent in favor (3,053 votes) to 46.7 percent against (2,675) to use a 1.25 percent retail sales tax to buy land for a new public works building.
Question No. 2, applied to building the new public works facility, which voters approved by a narrow 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent margin (2,936 votes in favor to 2,763 votes against).
For question No. 3, the decision to build a new public safety facility with the tax was 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 out cramped spaces and inadequate locker rooms at the existing police station during an interview with “The Connection’s” Jenna Gloeb.
“This women’s locker room doesn’t meet the standards of what we would like to see our female police officers coming into work getting dressed for work,” said Green. “It’s very small, a confined space, and there’s really very limited space when it comes to even taking a shower. So this sales tax initiative would go a long way in improving the conditions for both men and women.”
Green believes that a new facility will address the growing demands of the police department and provide more space for officers and evidence and property storage.
Concerns Addressed for Firefighters, Public Works
Firefighters, meanwhile, showed how a new public safety facility would help the city support a 24/7 duty crew model.
“Our facilities here in Golden Valley do not have any accommodations for rest or sleep,” Golden Valley Fire Chief John Crelly told Gloeb. “We’ve set up cots in the offices that we use for all our daytime activities here, which is far from ideal.”
Crelly raised concerned about the ability to attract and retain firefighters if the referendum wasn’t approved.
“We recruit and we’re competing against other fire departments. We have firefighters changing into their gear next to trucks emitting exhaust, which is not safe,” he said.
A new public safety building will change that. The new facility will eventually get built on the site of the current public works facility downtown. Construction would happen once the new public works facility is ready for use.
Golden Valley Public Works Director Tim Kiefer said the current facility is too cramped for its modern fleet of plows.
“You can’t open up a door when all the plow equipment is on,” said Kiefer.
Kiefer also stressed the need for the Public Works Department to relocate from the downtown area to reduce disturbances to nearby residents, particularly given the department’s around-the-clock operations.