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Aug 18

August 17, 2014

Posted to City Manager Blog by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK:  8.17. 17-  Staff will be presenting the Comp Plan Process to the Rotary Club on Friday at 7 am. 

Meetings and Announcements:    

Our next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, August 28th. The council workshop will begin at 5:30 and end at 6:50 pm.  We will continue with the discussion on the 2018 Budget. 

Next WOW event is August 23rd from 6- 7:30 pm at Wakefield Park. 

The Maplewood Employee Picnic will be held on September 14th from 11:30 to 1pm in the Courtyard adjacent to the DMV counter. Hope you will be able to join us. It is being hosted by the EEDD and Parks Departments. 

The next Maplewood Business Council meeting will take place on September 28 at 7:30 a.m. at the Maplewood Mall

Elected Official are Invited to attend Upcoming Race Equity Speaker. 

The GARE MN Racial Equity Speaker Series occurs on Wednesday, August 23 from 6-8 pm at Columbia Manor in Minneapolis. The topic is "Moving Elected Leadership to Advance Racial Equity."
The speaker is Leon Andrews, Director of the Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) program of the National League of Cities.  Leon will share the context for why NLC has taken on this work, and offer insights on ways elected leaders can be involved and support it.  This event will also include time in our teams to strategize and share ideas on how we will leverage elected leadership to advance racial equity in our jurisdictions.

All introductory and implementation cohort teams are expected to participate in this event.  We are asking teams to form delegations that include team members, elected officials and representatives from community partners who are integral to advancing your racial equity work.  Attached is the text used for the Eventbrite registration that explains the details.  Eventbrite is being used as an RSVP device - your team members and guests will not have to print the free tickets to get in the door.  

The link for registration is:

Check out the articles from the local press covering many Maplewood activities. Content and links can be found at the end of this document.

Updates from Staff and Council

This was a very sad week for the Police Department and for Detective Derek Fritze. Derek lost his step daughter Lily in a horrible accident on Lake Superior. Our prayers and thoughts go out to Derek and his family. The funeral was on Tuesday. Mike, Ellie and I attended the visitation and several Police staff attended the funeral. 

In addition, our condolences go out to Chief Lukin for the loss of his father. His funeral was on Monday. Staff and Councilmember Juenemann attended visitation services. 

Steve Love has indicated that MnDOT is studying TH 36 between I-35W and I-35E for a potential MnPass Lane. A copy of the draft Project Goals, Objectives and Evaluation Criteria Memo has been attached. The east end of the MnPass lane would end in Maplewood.  MnDot currently has identified two alternative location:
1) At I-35 W (see attached TH36 MnPass East End @35E)
2) At Arcade Street (see attached TH36 MnPass East End @ Arcade Street

Casey Lake Pavilion- I was asked to provide some information about the size and cost of this structure in North St. Paul at Casey Lake Park: The entire interior of the building is 2,595 sq feet (which includes storage and restrooms), the assembly space is 2,017 sq. feet. 
The building also has an outside attached covered pavilion which is 1,456 sq. feet. The cost of the project was $1.3 M.

The Fire Marshal’s Occupancy is:
Standing Room Only: 300
Chairs Only: 215
Tables and Chairs: 100
These numbers can provide a sense of space/cost for our Wakefield Project. They have a rental policy that they shared as well. Thank you, N. St. Paul for sharing this information.

Just a reminder that the Susan G Komen 3-Day walk will be headquartering out of Harvest Park again this year.  The organizers will start transforming the park on Tuesday, August 15 and work marking routes and setting up camp until the walkers arrive on Friday, August 18.  The five hundred walkers take designated routes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug 18 - 20.  By noon Monday, the 21st,  their crews will have the park cleaner then when they arrived on the 15th.  Environmental health, park maintenance, police and fire all work with the organizers to make sure the event and walkers are safe during their time in Maplewood.

As I mentioned in an earlier FYI, George Fairbanks, our Communications Manager,  has submitted his resignation, effective August 29th. I wish to thank George for his service with our new Communications Department. I have made an offer to Joe Sheeran, who currently works in Communications for the Mn Chief’s Association. Joe will start with the city on August 30th.  Joe has indicated that he can start at the end of the month. This will help ensure we have continuity in service. Joe has worked in television and is highly skilled in producing video content and worked with many state and county partners. I believe he will hit the ground running.  I will bring him to a Council meeting soon so you can meet him. 

News From local sources and agencies :  Reference:  Mentions a Maplewood Police Officer (Det Fritze)  Reference:  Light it Up celebration was highlighted  Reference:  District 622 receives pre-k funding  Reference:  Chief Nadeau, Lt. Crotty, Retired Chief Schnell, City Manager Melinda Coleman  Reference:  Maplewood is mentioned as submitting performance reports to the State  Reference:  Harvester Ave. house  Reference:  Substation at Rice/Larpenteur


REVENUE: via the July Revenue Review memo, VERBATIM: “Net general fund revenues totaled $975 million in the first month of FY 2018, $66 million (6.4 percent) less than forecast. Receipts in all major tax categories were lower than forecast.”  All categories of tax collection were lower.  READ:
WORRY?:  The Star Tribune talked to legislators on whether or not it’s time to worry about declining revenues.  READ:

Minnesota company's gun-mounted cameras could help capture police shootings
Aug 11, 2017, 2:04pm CDT
Emma Whitford
Staff WriterMinneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

When a police officer draws a weapon, every second is crucial. Maple Plain-based Viridian Weapon Technologies wants to make sure that every second is captured.
Viridian has been making automatic laser and light attachments for guns since 2011, but the recent scrutiny of police shootings, nationally and locally, prompted the company to develop a camera attachment for guns that could be used by police departments.
The FACT Duty camera by Viridian Weapon Technologies, pictured above, can be outfitted to… more
The company calls the product InstantOn, and it works just like it sounds: as soon as the weapon leaves the holster, InstantOn automatically activates the camera, which Viridian calls FACT (Fast Access Camera Technology) Duty. The camera records video and audio as soon as the gun is drawn.
“We wanted to apply the InstantOn technology to a camera for law enforcement,” said Viridian founder and President Brian Hedeen. “As those [shootings] kept happening in different cities … in Charlotte and Houston … and Minneapolis, too, we thought ‘boy, this is something that’s really needed by the public and by law enforcement.’”
This technology could have been helpful during the recent trial of Jeronimo Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop last July. Just weeks after Yanez was acquitted, Justine Damond was fatally shot by officer Mohamed Noor. In both cases body camera footage was unavailable – Yanez wasn't wearing a camera and Noor didn't activate his before the shooting.
“We see this as a win-win [for the community and the officers]. It’s creating transparency in the community. It’s going to show what really happened, it’s going to show the view from the muzzle of the gun,” Viridian General Counsel Matt Plowman said.
The cameras are designed to fit standard issue holsters. The FACT Duty also produces far less data than traditional body and dash cameras, making the footage easier for police departments to store and retain footage.
Viridian has received strong interest from individual gun owners, but has focused on marketing the product to police departments because “that’s where the biggest need is for the public,” Hedeen said.
The company has scheduled testing and evaluation sessions with a number of police departments locally, nationally and in Europe, but did not disclose which. Minneapolis police Lt. Gregory Reinhardt said that the department hadn't heard of the technology and was not considering it or anything similar. The department currently uses Axon body cameras, and Reinhardt cited equipment compatibility and storage concerns as reasons not to switch.
Viridian said it hopes law enforcement will adopt the cameras because, unlike body cameras that are activated at the discretion of the officer, they capture footage of high pressure situations immediately.
“Think about it as mandatory recording of every use of force incident — every time the gun is out,” Hedeen said.
Legal battle over Woodbury's development fees could echo across the metro
The case centers on how cities pay for roads needed for growth. 
By Eric Roper Star Tribune
AUGUST 12, 2017 — 12:11PM
Growing suburbs’ strategy of paying for new roads and other infrastructure by charging builders fees for development could be upended by a legal challenge before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
A developer’s lawsuit against Woodbury arguing the city’s roadway fee on new subdivisions is illegal has attracted competing court filings from the metro area homebuilders association and the League of Minnesota Cities. At issue is whether developers or taxpayers should bear the brunt of road projects that are needed to accommodate growth but are located outside of a new subdivision.
“I’d say this is a landmark case,” said David Siegel, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. “Probably one of those rare cases that comes along every decade or so that we think has really powerful ramifications across the Twin Cities.”
Woodbury charges developers a “major roadway assessment” fee to help cover road improvements outside of a subdivision, such as paving a gravel road or adding additional lanes to handle the added traffic.
That amounted to $1.3 million for the 183-home development Martin Harstad planned to build in the city.
Harstad sued, and a district court judge ruled in November that the fee was illegal because it is not allowed under state law. The city appealed.
Attorney George Hoff, who is representing the city, said state law expressly allows them to charge the fee. “Common sense says you have to do it,” Hoff said. “Think about 300 homes exiting onto a two-lane gravel road. On its face, it’s ridiculous.”
The League of Minnesota Cities wrote in a filing earlier this year that the case “raises legal issues with statewide significance.” If the ruling stands, cities would instead need to pay for those projects with general tax dollars “even though the new development is unquestionably driving the need for them.”
A League spokesman said the group does not track how many other cities use these fees. But a review of some other cities shows that Cottage Grove, Prior Lake, Chanhassen and Dayton appear to charge similar fees.
John Adams, a former University of Minnesota professor who has studied the fees, said the initial property taxes paid by new homes aren’t typically enough to cover the extra road costs. Without the fees, he said, the burden for paying for the city’s expansion falls on existing residents.
“In other words, there’s a subsidy that goes to the new development, and it comes out of the old businesses and the old residents in the community,” Adams said.
On the other hand, Siegel said, the fees raise the price of new homes.
“What this is doing is adding a significant dollar amount to each parcel of land within that development, which ultimately gets passed on from the developer to the builder and ultimately to the home buyer,” Siegel said.
It’s not the first time courts have weighed in on how cities can pay for their road costs. A district court judge tossed Roseville’s fee on developers to pay for roads in the Twin Lakes area in 2013. In 1997, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Eagan’s “road unit connection charge” amounted to a tax not allowed by state law because it wasn’t directly tied to the cost of providing services.
Harstad’s attorney Peter Coyle said the case against Woodbury could reinforce that 1997 ruling, known as “Country Joe” after the developer who sued.
Woodbury argues that the Country Joe precedent does not apply here, however, since Woodbury’s fees are individually negotiated based on the demand expected from each development. The city collected $5.4 million in such fees over the past five years.
Some disagree with the fees from a public policy standpoint. Chuck Marohn, whose Brainerd-based organization Strong Towns promotes healthier city budgets, said such fees allow cities to build roads their tax base may not have the resources to maintain over the long term.
“If your tax base doesn’t generate enough ongoing wealth to maintain your infrastructure, it doesn’t matter how you pay for it initially,” Marohn said.
A ruling on the case is expected by mid-September.
Rising expenses force Washington County to consider largest tax increase in years
New construction in the east metro county could ease homeowners' burden of 6.9% property tax increase. 
By Kevin Giles Star Tribune
AUGUST 13, 2017 — 7:12PM
The largest property tax levy increase in years was proposed last week for Washington County to cover the costs of increasing state mandates and new demands for services driven by population growth.
Whether the 6.9 percent increase stands will depend on the five County Board members, some of whom voiced discomfort after a 2018 budget presentation by Deputy Administrator Kevin Corbid.
“I have significant concerns on the 6.9 levy,” said Commissioner Stan Karwoski, who represents Oakdale. “I have constituents saying, ‘Keep taxes low,’ and I hear that.”
The proposed 6.9 percent levy increase may not fall on individual property owners as heavily as one would guess. That’s because of the county’s broadening tax base, which includes $427 million in new construction since 2016, and a growing emphasis on commercial development.
The owner of a median-valued home, which is $257,000, would pay about $35 more annually.
The county administration proposed a $102.7 million property tax levy for next year, with non-levy revenue expected at $109.8 million.
Operating expenses under the budget proposal would be $176.3 million, with capital expenditures recommended at $31.9 million.
As do other counties, Washington must pay annually for programs required by state law that often come with little or no financial support. Corbid said the county will receive almost $1 million more in state funding for the programs next year, but he added that the cost for just six of them — most in the social services arena — will exceed that figure.
Commissioner Karla Bigham, a former DFL state legislator, condemned the state practice of what’s known as “unfunded mandates,” which account for about 80 percent of county budgets.
“Give us the money to do it, and do it right, so we can get results,” she said. Appeals to the Legislature are “falling on deaf ears,” she said.
Washington County has other financial challenges, Corbid said in the budget presentation, which kicks off a month of department-by-department budget reviews.
Road upgrades remain a priority, as is a major crimes unit in the county attorney’s office that has targeted sex trafficking. County officials want to make more technology improvements to secure private data. Lake Elmo’s library will return to the county system after six years under city control.
Wages and health insurance also drive next year’s budget costs, as the county rebounds from years of little or no increases.
In each of the past three years, the County Board has approved 3.49 percent levy increases, following four years when the levy was flat or reduced. Corbid said that trend “shows the sensitivity of the County Board to the hardships that were being felt at that time.”
The budget proposal calls for a slight increase in salaries for the County Board. However, commissioners have voted against taking pay increases for themselves since 2009. They make $52,713, the lowest salary among commissioners in the seven metro counties.
Commissioners won’t take action on the 2018 proposal until Sept. 28, when they decide on a levy ceiling. They will take a final vote on the budget in December.
The proposed 2018 Washington County budget and the proposed Community Development Agency budget can be viewed at

Rachel E. Stuckey
Legislative Coordinator
Direct:  651.556.9205
Fax:  651.228.9787

  Melinda Coleman | 651-249-2055

Mar 01

The New Guy - Bryan Smith

Posted to Council Account by Chad Bergo

When I got the assignment to write an article for this month’s Maplewood Living, I really didn’t want to write “the new guy” article. The reality is, however, that I have now been sworn in for about six weeks, I have attended 3 council meetings, and have been working hard to learn the ins and outs of Maplewood operations and how to be the best councilmember I can. It feels strange to be writing this so early; I am the new guy after all…

We have all been the new person: new kid at school, new person at work, or the new family on the block. It can be a tough time of uncertainty and anxiety, but it is also a time of opportunity for new friends, new skills, and new knowledge. I have felt all of these feelings since being sworn in. In fact, I am not only the new guy here, but also am the new guy on the Gateway Corridor Commission and a number of other groups for which I now represent the city.

As I have begun this journey, there are a number of life lessons I reflect on and hold in my heart:
1. Be grateful: I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to serve our city, and also for my colleagues on the council, the mayor, and many leaders from the city staff who have all been generous and patient while teaching me and answering all my rookie questions.

2. More elephants and fewer hippos: Picture it: elephants have huge ears and small mouths while hippos have huge mouths and small ears. I know I can tend to be more of a hippo, more apt to speak than I am to listen carefully. I am doing my best to be more of an elephant, and it takes a great deal of energy for me to slow down, shut my mouth, and listen. I am doing my best, and when I am successful, I find it serves me quite well.

3. Be kind: I have never regretted being kind to someone – I have, however, regretted being unkind almost every time. My wife and I have always expected our son to show kindness to others, and at 7 years old, he is now my role model. I hope I can grow up to be as kind and empathetic as him.

While I really didn’t want to write the new guy article, I think that I just did. One thing I have learned in my career is that people typically feel “new” a lot longer than they are seen as “new” by others. Hopefully you still see me as “new” – I know I still feel it. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead, to getting to know you all better, and to working to make our city the best it can be.

Tag(s): Bryan Smith