City Times Staff
Robert Larson is challenging Ald. Mike Phillips for the city’s 10th district seat. He previously served on the Stevens Point School Board and ran for mayor in 2014 but was eliminated in the primary.
Larson was unable to meet for a one-on-one interview with the City Times staff, but sent a written statement instead. Without an opportunity to ask follow-up questions, the City Times editor has made comments below each of Larson’s statements.
On why he’s running for office:
RL: “I believe if a citizen has concerns he or she should get involved. Since I have many concerns I believe it is important to get involved rather than just complain.”
On the concerns he has for the city:
RL: “Stevens Point owes $35.5 million in general obligation debt — 71 percent of its ordinance limit — with $14.3 million remaining as a buffer. The city has some large projects slated to be implemented in the next few years. If the city does not start to pay down its debt and watch spending it could have some major financial problems. I favor getting this debt under control.”
*Editor’s comments: According to Comptroller-Treasurer Corey Ladick, holding some debt is actually good for the city’s credit rating. Ladick has repeatedly told the city council debt repayment is part of the city’s annual budget.
“In 2005, the Mayor of Stevens Point and all members of the city council, including our current Alderperson, Mike Phillips, agreed to take $6.1 million dollars from the state Department of Transportation as part of a jurisdictional transfer of Business 51 Highway. That decision will now cost the taxpayers of Stevens Point $20-$30 million dollars. However, this project was kicked down the road. This decision will come back to the mayor and city council in 2024. Estimates are that it will cost the tax payers $60-90 million dollars by then. The damage is done; we cannot reverse the poor decision that was made in 2005. However, if I am elected to the city council I will urge the mayor and city council to contact the federal government and get Business 51 de-listed as a highway, so we are not locked in to the federal mandates for federal highways.”
*Editor’s comments: Ald. Mike Phillips was not on the city council in 2005.
BL: “I believe the City of Stevens Point should not sell Edgewater Manor. We need affordable housing for our senior citizens. Our current alderperson for District 10, Mike Phillips, was in favor of selling Edgewater Manor. Currently the city is not selling Edgewater Manor, and if I’m elected I will fight to keep this establishment for our senior citizens.”
Editor’s comments: While there are low-income vouchers available for Edgewater, the only requirement to live there is to be 55 years or older. Edgewater Manor offers market rate apartments and is not designated as “low income”.
BL: “Stevens Point needs stop lights at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Post Road. I will push for stop lights at this intersection as I believe it is just a matter of time before someone gets killed there.”
Editor’s comments: The Minnesota Ave./Post Rd. intersection does not belong to the city, rather it is part of the Plover/Whiting remodel of Bus. 51.