I support responsible budgeting to prudently maintain quality services while planning for growth. This is especially important as Washington County anticipates an unprecedented demographic shift of older adults and increasing diversity with projected population growth of more than 100,000 new residents by 2030. An aging demographic will place increased pressure on safety net programs, and an emphasis on serving diverse populations will also be needed. I care deeply about community stability and protecting taxpayers through sound fiscal management and reducing bureaucracy without cuts to essential services. Given the projections for continued growth; the potential need for new facilities, programs and services is expected to be part of future County Board deliberations.
I pledge to continue to protect the AAA bond ratings assigned to the county that reflect the strong fiscal discipline of the County Board, while providing safe and productive communities for families. And I continue to support an affordable and stable county property tax rate by targeting specific services in a coordinated way, such as reliance on the wheelage tax to lower the property tax levy by the same amount. Additional strategic investments in transportation infrastructure will attract and retain businesses that grow our tax base, provide jobs and increase revenue without increasing property taxes.
I will continue to prioritize safety and capacity investments in transportation infrastructure in my district, while ensuring existing county roadways and bridges are maintained. My focus is to proactively work with community partners to deliver multiple projects while cutting costs, such as upgrading storm water run-off systems to conserve natural resources installed at the same time as other planned capital improvement projects. A recent example in my district was to complete expansion along County Road 19 (add two lanes of traffic and two roundabouts within the existing right-of-way), while concurrently adding new storm water infrastructure in the corridor to redirect water runoff high in nutrient content for irrigation of two local golf courses. The collaboration with the watershed district saved taxpayer dollars by adding the improvements together, cut phosphorus levels in Colby Lake below impaired and reduced groundwater demand from the aquafer for commercial use.
I pledge continued efforts for investments in multimodal transportation systems to empower citizens to make their own mobility decisions and add value to existing places with transit. Weak investment in transit can lead to economic disadvantage. Specifically, the Gateway GOLD Line Bus Rapid Transit project will deliver a much needed transportation option that will require experienced leadership to ensure the unique needs of my district are met as work transitions to a state agency. As chair of the Gateway Corridor Commission since 2011, I am uniquely qualified to make critical decisions during the next phase of study and pledge ongoing public engagement. Construction would not start before 2019.
Protect and Preserve the Environment
Ensure the cleanup of PFC contaminated wells and groundwater continues in a quick and orderly fashion. Continue to support the Washington County Environmental Center in Woodbury, including more hours and expanded material drop-off. Ensure the $20 million that was given to the county following passage of the county-wide Land and Water Legacy Act referendum continues to be spent wisely. Consider recommendations from the Park & Planning Commission on how these dollars are spent on parkland and development rights purchases (willing sellers only), to conserve open space. Continue to leverage money from other public and private entities to stretch our dollars as far as possible and ensure that only the best parcels (good criteria are already in place that includes a priority for public access) are selected, negotiated and finalized. Follow THRiVE 2040 new equity goals to connect new transitway service to county regional parks whenever possible.