Weekly Memo 2-24-2012

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

WEEKLY UPDATE:

Ward Redistricting

The City Planner has finalized the proposed ward redistricting maps for public distribution.  The City will disburse proposed ward boundaries with next month’s Water and Light utility bills.  The City will also have a dedicated web page with the redistricting information.  The publication will also include information on a public hearing scheduled at the regular Council meeting of April 3 during which the Council is expected to finalize the new ward boundaries.  The Council must redistrict every 10 years in conjunction with the federal Census in order to adjust for population changes.  Generally, the City’s population in Wards 1 and 5 resulted in smaller geographic boundaries to those wards while Wards 2, 3, and 4 increased slightly in size.

Public Works Director

The Civil Service Commission held the first interviews of the Public Works semi-finalists on Thursday morning.  The Commission named four finalists to me.  Chief Gust, Karla Anderson and I interviewed the four finalists on Thursday and Friday.  I expect background and reference checks to consume approximately 7-10 days, after which I will forward a final recommendation to the City Council for approval.

Legislative Update

The state legislature continues to discuss several property tax relief bills as discussed in this week’s Cities Bulletin from the League of Minnesota Cities (http://www.lmc.org/page/1/cities-bulletin-newsletter.jsp).  Most of the bills focus on property tax relief to commercial and industrial properties.  Some of the bills seek to increase the Property Tax Refund (PTR) program that targets homeowner’s with high property tax bills relative to personal income.  Generally, cities are not inherently opposed to tax relief for these purposes.  There are some concerns that should be addressed. First, the Legislature should identify funding sources to for the tax relief provisions that do not increase the burdens particularly to Greater Minnesota.  There is a general consensus among Greater Minnesota communities that these bills disproportionately benefit suburban communities with higher tax bases.  Overall, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities continues to advocate for increasing funding to Local Government Aid (LGA) as the most efficient and direct method to stabilize property taxes particularly in Greater Minnesota.

Most know that the statewide redistricting boundaries were released this week. As expected, District 1B that contains East Grand Forks grew somewhat in geographic size.  Statewide, population growth continues to focus on the suburbs and the metropolitan area.  This will likely create greater challenges for rural Minnesota communities in the state legislature in future sessions.

Swimming Pool Kickoff

The City Engineer, the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, and I met with the design consultant to begin the formal design process for the approved swimming pool renovation.  The meeting focused on options related to aesthetics and ADA compliance.  The project remains on track for a design completion of May and a proposed bid opening in June.

DEPARTMENT REPORTS:

Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund

EGFPD Officers Conduct In-Service Training

The officers of the East Grand Forks Police Department conducted re-certification training on the Taser this week.  The Taser, an electronic control device, is one of the best tools for law enforcement that has come about in many years.  Officers undergo annual training on the device to ensure that they know how to properly and effectively use it.  All EGFPD Employees also underwent training on how to perform CPR and use AED’s (Automatic External Defibrillators).  The combination of using CPR and AED’s has resulted in numerous lives being saved, including several here in EGF.  Each EGFPD officer has an AED in their squad whenever they are working.

Winter is back!

The snowy weather that we have received this week, and the colder temperatures that are forecast for at least the next week, are a reminder that winter is not over yet.  The EGFPD asks that the public help city crews get our streets cleaned by not parking on the roads during snow emergencies or on the designated street maintenance days.  For further information please go to the City website at www.egf.mn    The slushy snow results in wet roads even after they have been cleared and cooler temps may result in slippery roads so please drive safely!

Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker

1.  I sent the LaFave Park drawings so you have a chance to look at them before the March 13 meetings, if you have any questions call me.

2.  The outdoor rinks are closed until we can get them safe for skating; the slush did a number on them.

3.  Teams advancing to Regions include the Bantam A VFW team, Bantam Eagles team, Girls 12U and Girls 14U.

4.  The furnace in the BLC Arena should be fixed by Thursday, the motor in the furnace quit working.

5.  The sidewalks and the trails have been cleared off and ready for use.

Fire Department, Chief Randy Gust

The trip to Wisconsin proved to be very successful. We found the truck to be in excellent shape with no apparent mechanical problems. Assistant Chief Jeff Anderson has been the liaison with the Bridgeton Fire Department and has been able to make sure that all listed equipment is accounted for. I want to thank him for his hard work in the purchase of this truck. We hope to have the truck in our possession in the near future.

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