by Rebecca Noecker, St. Paul City Council Member
I love the possibility of a fresh start. At home, I clean my basement, take stock of my boys’ clothes, make to-do lists. At work, I clean my desk, wipe off my project tracker, talk with my team about what we want to make happen and how we’ll work smarter than the year before.
The start of a new decade and a new term brings with it more than the usual sense of potential — and pressure to seize the moment. In the spirit of sharing my goals so that you’ll hold me accountable, here are a few of the things I resolve to work on in 2020.
Big solutions for big problems:If you ask the average St. Paul resident to name our city’s biggest challenges, affordable housing, street maintenance and high taxes are likely to make the list. But solving these problems is too expensive for the city’s budget alone. To rebuild our roadways, create the housing we need and keep taxes manageable, we need more local government aid from the state and more authority to create dedicated revenue sources such as local sales or entertainment taxes. I’ll be working in 2020 to build a stronger partnership with the state to better meet our city’s needs.
A focus on our youngest residents:We know that 90% of brain development occurs between birth and age 5, and quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds can help keep this development on track. For the last two years, I’ve been working with a collaborative of community leaders to develop a city-wide early learning initiative that would make preschool free for children with the highest need and subsidize tuition on a sliding scale for families earning more. Following a model used in dozens of cities around the country, this program would allow families to choose between school-based pre-K, child care centers or family child care, and would allow more parents to join the workforce. I’m looking forward to continuing this work in 2020 to make St. Paul the best city in the world to raise a family.
Economic growth for long-term success:We need to attract more commercial development to St. Paul if we want to meet our long-term needs without large property tax increases. Businesses create more vibrant, walkable neighborhoods and they bear a larger share of the tax burden than residential properties. I plan to be more engaged this year — as a Council Member and as a board member of the Downtown Alliance — in helping employers find their place in St. Paul.
Accountability for getting results:Government should work hard and get things done. When programs are working well, we should scale them up. When they’re not, we should redirect our dollars where they’ll do more good. Our City Charter gives the City Council the authority to audit City departments and programs to make sure they’re getting results, but unfortunately, recession-era staffing and budget cuts forced that work to the wayside. Last year, I co-chaired a committee that recommended restarting this important auditing function and I’m eager to take that work forward in the year ahead.
I’d love your feedback on these priorities. Please join me at a neighborhood meeting in the New Year to share your goals for our ward:
- January 10, 8-9:30 am, Capital View Cafe, 637 South Smith Ave.
- January 14, 12-12:45 pm, Virtual Lunch with Rebecca, Facebook.
- February 7, 8-9:30 am, Uptowner Cafe, 1100 Grand Ave.
- February 11, 12-12:45 pm, Virtual Lunch with Rebecca, Facebook.
- March 6, 8-9:30 am, Claddagh, 459 7th St. W.
- March 10, 12-12:45 pm, Virtual Lunch with Rebecca, Facebook.