It seems to be the way to complain these days. Send a letter to a government official as a “concerned citizen” without having the intestinal fortitude to sign your name. That bothers me.
If you have a complaint, step forth and register your complaint, but do not hide behind anonymity. I have no intention of publishing complaints publicly, or bashing anyone wishing to voice a complaint. In fact, I am open to discussing your issues face to face if you wish. Set up an appointment with my office, and we will talk through your issues. If you want your concerns taken seriously, sign the letter.
So why am I irritated about this? Recently I received a letter from a “concerned citizen,” someone who states they have lived in Mitchell for 54 years and had three pages of concerns. As I have no idea who this person could be, I decided to respond via this forum. The letter starts out by asking if it is anyone’s job to try and recruit new businesses to Mitchell. Yes, it is.
The Mitchell Area Development Corporation, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, works on retaining existing businesses, helping businesses grow, and working with new businesses to bring to town. While the general public is not privy to a great deal of this information, I can tell you MADC and the Chamber have some good leads and are working hard to make things happen. Understandably, these companies want to keep information under wraps until it is appropriate for them to announce their plans.
The anonymous letter moves on to empty buildings, on and off Main Street, closing of businesses and asks why the city of Mitchell prefers to see empty buildings rather than help keep buildings occupied and a business open.
Let me start by saying, the city wants every business to succeed. The majority of our revenue comes from the sales tax those businesses generate. Property taxes only account for approximately 22 percent of the city’s budget, we need sales from businesses in our fine city, and we want business to succeed. The city has no desire to own buildings, and we have no part in closing businesses here in Mitchell. Those decisions come from the businesses themselves.
I have no power to tell a business they must remain open, or they have to close; and I do not believe you would ever want a government entity to have that kind of power. The city does, however, require that buildings be maintained and enforces that requirement.
Think of adjacent building owners — Are they not entitled to have property next to them in good condition to prevent losses in their property valuation? What about loss of customers because the neighbor failed in the upkeep of the property?
The concerned citizen mentions specific businesses that are closing or have closed. The city government plays no part in those decisions. In the case of Shopko, the corporation filed bankruptcy, and after attempting to sell the brand, closed due to lack of cash flow. That was a major news story when it broke more than a year ago.
Addressing concerns in the letter regarding the Corn Palace Plaza and events at the Corn Palace I will say, the Plaza has been a great addition to that facility. It has seen a good deal of use with the pre-Sturgis Party, First Fridays, and other events. The addition of the stage should only increase the usage of that area.
Regarding Corn Palace events, we are working to increase what is available for city and area residents to attend. Hopefully, you will find several to your liking. You mentioned the Polka Festival, which has actually been discussed and is not off the table. Keep ideas pouring into the Corn Palace Board, as our city only benefits from bringing more people to town for fun festivities. Please share any ideas you may have with the Corn Palace director.
I know I was not able to answer every point in “concerned citizen’s” letter, but hopefully the high points have been addressed.