On Wednesday, Aug 30, the City of Golden Valley launched BuildingForwardGV.org, a website designed to inform voters about the proposed sales tax referendum of $105 million to help build new Public Works and Public Safety buildings.
During the general election Nov 7, Golden Valley voters will consider whether to approve a 1.25 percent local sales tax to finance the building projects over a 30-year period, which includes the $105 million for the projects, plus interest and the costs of issuing bonds. The website provides information on the proposed plan, the community engagement process, the cost of the project, and other details.
The City put forward the investment plan because the buildings housing the Public Works and Police and Fire Departments can no longer adequately support modern service delivery and emergency response. The aging facilities are too small and fail to provide equitable and safe working conditions for all employees.
“This is a plan about safety and efficiency,” said City Manager Tim Cruikshank. “As we look to the future of Golden Valley, our facilities must evolve to ensure we can deliver the services that residents expect and deserve.”
The City’s Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining and improving essential public infrastructure and services, including road maintenance, park and trail maintenance, snow removal, and water, sewer, and stormwater systems. The Department’s operations are spread across three different buildings with limited space and mobility, meaning City personnel must often move from one building to another for various elements of their jobs and to access equipment. Multiple assessments concluded the buildings are inefficient and waste time and resources.
The Public Safety building, which serves as headquarters for the Fire and Police Departments, is not designed to support modern fire and police training, rapid response, and other vital functions. Facilities lack proper air quality, places for safe equipment storage, and equitable and inclusive restroom and locker room spaces.
To address the challenges, the City is proposing a long-term investment plan, called Building Forward. As part of the plan, the City would acquire land outside of downtown for the construction of a new Public Works building. The City would then build a new Public Safety building that would serve as the City’s Fire and Police headquarters at the site of the current Public Works buildings.
Golden Valley residents played an important role in helping shape top priorities for new investments in these public facilities. From community meetings to a citizen task force to survey responses, residents said the City should prioritize investments in essential services provided by the Public Works and the Fire and Police Departments.
“We definitely listened to what residents envisioned for our public facilities,” Cruikshank said.
During the 2023 legislative session, state lawmakers determined the projects met their threshold for offering regional impact and approved the City’s proposal to present a 1.25 percent sales tax option to Golden Valley voters.
The City Council approved the sales tax option because it spreads the cost of the projects among residents and nonresidents who purchase goods and services in Golden Valley. Nonresidents are expected to contribute 61.6% of the $105 million in sales tax revenue, according to research by the University of Minnesota. That means nonresidents who purchase goods and services within the City will contribute approximately $64.7 million toward the projects.
The plan will be presented to voters in three ballot questions:
- Question One requests to use the proposed 1.25 percent sales tax to generate up to $15 million to acquire land outside of downtown Golden Valley that would serve as the location for a new Public Works building.
- Question Two requests using the same tax to provide $45 million to build the new Public Works building.
- Question Three requests $45 million to build a new Police and Fire headquarters building on the current site of the Public Works buildings.
The sales tax rate remains the same if one, two, or all three questions are approved. When including interest and other financing expenses, the total cost of the Building Forward plan would be approximately $190 million spread over 30 years.
If Golden Valley residents approve the sales tax referendum, the City will move forward with design and construction work. If the sales tax referendum is not approved, the City Council and staff will explore other ways to address the challenges with the City’s aging facilities.
“This is an important community decision about the future of our community and the public services the City provides,” Cruikshank said. “We encourage residents to learn more about the proposal at BuildingForwardGV.org.”
The referendum website will be updated regularly. Residents can ask questions or provide feedback through the Connect page on the website.