Weekly Memo 10-7-11

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council is also provided on the City Council web page.

WEEKLY UPDATE:

Industrial Park street project

The federal Economic Development Authority (EDA) granted the City authorization to advertise for bids on the proposed industrial park infrastructure expansion project. The federal EDA held the project for well over a year after the EDA awarded a partial grant to the City. The EDHA, on behalf of the City, first applied for the grant nearly three years ago. The proposed project was estimated to be a total of $850,000, of which the local share was estimated to be $175,000. This project will be a gauge to City of how construction prices have changed since early 2009. The project consists generally of adding an additional street and associated infrastructure to the industrial park to facilitate expansion of the industrial park.

Water and Light General Manager receives award

Water and Light General Manager Dan Boyce recently received the LN Thompson Award from the Minnesota section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Dan has been recognized statewide for years as a tremendous resource to his community and to the numerous boards on which he serves. The Water and Light Department is incredibly fortunate to have Dan’s knowledge and expertise. The following is the AWWA’s description of the LN Thompson award.

LEONARD N. THOMPSON AWARD

Mr. Thompson started his career with the St. Paul Water Utility on August 1, 1912 and continued working until June 1, 1964. He served as technical advisor from December of 1963 until June of 1964. Mr. Thompson spent nearly 52 years serving St. Paul. During this time he spent countless hours on the American Water Works Association work, both for North Central Section and on a National level. He twice served as Section Director and was President of the American Water Works Association in 1945.

Leonard Thompson served as General Manager of the St. Paul Water Utility for nearly 34 years. Many of the concepts, plans, and projects which he and his staff developed and built still serve the citizens of St. Paul. These projects have stood the test of time and serve as a testimony on Mr. Thompson’s ability and talent. A water system which continues to supply its customers with a quality of water in any quantity they desire; a water system striving to achieve Mr. Thompson’s goal of excellence.

Leonard Thompson stands alone in our section in longevity, service to his community and service to the water industry. He loved his work, and to it he devoted his entire life. The Leonard M. Thompson Award was established by the North Central Section in remembrance of this outstanding individual. The award is made annually to a Minnesota Section member who typifies the standards that were emblematic of Mr. Thompson’s contributions to the Section and the water supply industry.

City meeting with MnDOT

The City Planner has established a local meeting with officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for Thursday, November 3 at 10:00 am. Regional officials will discuss upcoming local projects as well as long-term vision for MnDOT and the transportation industry. We ask that all Council Members attend as available. The meeting will be open to the public as a quorum is expected to be in attendance.

Market Value Homestead Credit Impacts

Minnesota House Research has compiled a document that details (with over 900 pages) the statewide impact of the legislative change from the Market Value Homestead Credit (MVHC) to the Market Value Homestead Exclusion. Some of the highlights include that property taxes and/or program cuts total $272 million statewide just to compensate for the cuts to the MVHC program. Note that the property tax analysis takes into account all local taxing entities including Counties, Schools, Cities, and special taxing districts (e.g. watersheds and ambulance districts).

I have attached the analysis of the impacts to East Grand Forks. Again, the analysis assumes no other changes to property tax levies; and the analysis is on hypothetical home values. The analysis shows that property taxes for an “average value” home of $148,700 will increase $65 per year, or 3.3 percent, if county, city, and school district make no other changes to the levies. Commercial properties will increase 6.1 percent; and apartments will increase 8.0 percent. Greater Minnesota increases are much larger on a percentage basis than the metro area. The full city-by-city report can be found at the following link: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/csim11F1cities.pdf. The statewide summary is here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/csim11F1.pdf.

Curbside Chat Companion Booklet

I am placing in the council member boxes a copy of the Curbside Chat Companion Booklet. The Strong Towns organization created the booklet. Strong Towns Executive Director Charles Marohn visited East Grand Forks for a Curbside Chat approximately one year ago. The companion booklet is an excellent introduction to the Strong Town concept for those who are unfamiliar. The booklet is succinct and timely. I strongly recommend reading the entire booklet. However, the introduction and the case studies on pages 17-25 are especially pertinent Page 2for those who may not read the entire booklet. The case studies, in particular, are real-life examples mainly from right here in Minnesota. They provide excellent context to our current infrastructure development and our unsustainable maintenance path. The report does not necessarily advocate for any specific solution to infrastructure maintenance. In other words, the problem is much deeper than merely raising taxes or continuing to rely on unreliable growth.

However, we cannot agree on a solution to infrastructure issues until we agree on the problems themselves. In that regard, I do not recall reading a better summary of the infrastructure crisis in our communities and throughout the nation than the Curbside Chat Companion Booklet. The online link to the booklet can be found here: http://www.strongtowns.org/companion-booklet/.

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