Author: Renee Schmid, former Finance Director, Shakopee Public Utilities
In 2015, I was the finance director for the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission and had served in this role for eight years.
At that time, some Shakopee residents were upset that Mayor Tabke and his council were entertaining expansion of the Shakopee Community Center without voter input via a referendum. Concurrently, Bill Mars was preparing to run for election as Mayor of Shakopee. He was also the sitting president on the SPU Commission.
Then Mars had an idea to boost his campaign.
Mr. Mars requested a meeting with the SPU utilities manager and me, as the Finance Director. During that meeting, Mr. Mars suggested that SPU should donate two million dollars to the city to pay for the Shakopee Community Center. He said he would use that information in his platform to run for mayor as a way to solve the community center issue.
Both the SPU utilities manager and I responded that that was not a decision we could make for four reasons:
- It would need to be brought before the Commission.
- This was the ratepayers’ money for operation and expansion of the electric and water utilities.
- The SPU Commission had other goals and priorities, including keeping rates low for all ratepayers and reducing the amount of outstanding debt.
- SPU was already contributing a significant amount to the City of approximately two million dollars annually.
SPU ratepayers include customers who are not Shakopee citizens, such as those in the adjoining townships and parts of the City of Prior Lake. SPU does not control how the City uses the SPU contribution.
Mr. Mars was not pleased with our response and has been on the warpath ever since to get his hands on the fund balances at Shakopee Public Utilities. Contrary to what Mayor Mars claims, it is and always has been about the money for him. He even went so far as to try to use it as a means to get elected.
Mars used his position as President of the Commission to attempt to advance his mayoral campaign.
The City does NOT have the citizens’ and ratepayers’ best interests at heart in their campaign to take over the utilities. Please VOTE NO, and keep the Commission.