Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.
Fire fighters to manage Catfish Days
As widely reported this week the East Grand Forks Local 3423 if the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has agreed to administer Catfish Days beginning this summer. The event suffered from a high water cancellation in 2011, and competing tournaments have made recruitment more difficult. The Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce had contemplated ending its participation for the past several years. Therefore, the fire fighters stepped forward to make Catfish Days a “true east side event.”
A couple of new items affecting cities have appeared before the House and Senate Tax Committees this week. Senator Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook) and Rep. Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis) have each introduced bills that would repeal the current tax notification process commonly known as “Truth in Taxation” (TNT) statements and hearings. In its place, the proposals would require all cities to hold two levy and budget hearings – one before the preliminary levy is approved, and one before the final levy is approved. Anecdotally, I have seen most cities oppose these proposals based on what we know currently. The bills would require Cities to hold the first hearing prior to September 1. This would add an additional hearing to the process. Further, it would expand an already long and protracted budget process for cities that currently must file preliminary levies by September 15. Supporters have claimed that the new proposal would reduce costs associated with TNT hearings by one third. Most cities have struggled to determine where the costs of TNT hearings derive, much less any hypothetical savings.
The legislature also began debating measures that would exempt cities from paying sales tax on purchases. Cities and counties have been required to pay sales tax since 1992, when the state and cities agreed to the compromise in exchange for maintaining Local Government Aid (LGA) funding. Since then, the state has cut LGA funding several times. The current Senate proposal would exempt cities from sales tax, and it also would reimpose levy limits if local property levies statewide do not decrease by at least 75 percent of the projected sales tax savings.
The City has three more negotiation sessions tentatively scheduled in the next two weeks. Most of the parties agree that significant progress has been made in the discussions, and the remaining items are down to one or two outstanding issues in each contract.
Library, Charlotte Helgeson
Next week beginning April 15 the Campbell Library will celebrate National Library Week. The library will host several events including the Spring Art Exhibit opening, the volunteer recognition program, and several events for children and adults. The schedule of events for the week is attached to this memo.
Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker
GETTING READY for the FLOOD
So far this week we have taken the hot water heaters out of the bathrooms and bath house in the campground. We took signs and benches out that could be affected by the flood. We have a 1,000 sandbags available for the flood which our guys did. We have been taking snow off Stauss Park with the snow blower and the parking lot.
Monday, Catherine and I went to Bemidji to pick up the truck and State passes. We also picked up two of the panels that go on the kiosk down in the State Park. We are taking applications for the campground until Monday and then we have interviews for the positions that are available.
Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund
Thanks to a number of generous donations from businesses within our community the EGFPD will soon have a bicycle patrol in place to help us effectively respond to crime problems and to enhance our community relations. Sgt. Michelle Manias, an avid biker, has been selected to coordinate the team and four additional officers have been selected for the team. Equipment and uniforms have been ordered and the bike patrol officers will be attending training in the near future. The bike patrol officers will spend time on patrol throughout the city with an emphasis on the bike paths and park areas. Bike patrol officers will also be used during special events such as the 4th of July festivities.
Item 5 considers approving the recruitment and hiring of two Parks Maintenance Workers. The additional workers will be funded by reorganizing the functions of one vacant Arena Manager position and multiple seasonal arena operator positions into two full time positions. The Parks and Recreation reorganization will benefit the community in several ways without additional cost. First, the city arenas will have full-time staffing on at least five days a week, including weekends, for all business hours, including evenings. Also, summer full-time staffing will increase from one Parks Foreman to the Parks Foreman plus three full-time parks maintenance workers. Both the city parks and indoor facilities will receive much more attention for the same cost.
Item 7 considers a resolution to support the City’s project application to the state Corridor Investment Management Strategy (CIMS) program. The City’s application would target Highway 220 (Central Avenue) to include upgrades to traffic signaling, bike and pedestrian trail expansions, one lane expansion, and various street scaping. The city match on the estimated $2.1 million project would be 10 percent, or approximately $210,000.
Items 8 and 9 both relate to the City’s adult use ordinance. The first ordinance repeals the City’s existing definitions of an adult use. And, the second ordinance issues a moratorium on adult uses for six months. The moratorium allows the City to study the issue and to consider a new ordinance that more clearly defines “adult use.”