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City Manager Blog

Each week I send out an FYI Update to City Council and staff on the latest happenings within the City of Maplewood.  I would like to share this information with the residents of Maplewood, as well. 

Follow my blog if you would like to be kept up to date on the behind the scenes happenings within the City. 

Jan 11

January 8, 2021

Posted on January 11, 2021 at 10:05 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: January 8th, 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, January 11th, 2021. 

 

City Clerk Andrea Sindt held swearing in events this week for our newly elected and re-elected Mayor and Council members. This was the legal oath of office for Mayor Abrams and Council members, Knutson, Vilavicencio and Cave but the oath of office will be redone at the zoom Council meeting on Monday for the benefit of our community members or others who may be tuning in.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

Sales Tax Exemption – Fire Station

Last year the city sought an exemption from the sales tax on construction materials for the proposed Fire Station. This is a common request among cities and helps to lower the overall cost of the project. However, because of COVID-19 and other priorities, the legislature did not include our bill into the final tax bill.

The city has asked for the bill to be submitted this year for approval. The exemption would save nearly $500,000 from the overall cost of the project.

State Senators Chuck Wiger, Sen. Susan Kent, and Sen. Ann Rest were co-sponsors of last year’s bill in the MN Senate. Rep. Peter Fischer, Rep. Tou Xiong, and Rep. Leon Lillie were co-sponsors in the MN House.

 

Here is a link to last year’s proposed bill: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF3561&version=0&session=ls91&session_year=2020&session_number=0

New information will be updated with this year’s submittal.

Mayor Abrams, City Manager Coleman, Public Safety Director Nadeau, and Chief Mondor testified at the Capitol in favor of the bill.

 

FINANCE

 

Metropolitan Area Property Taxes and Values

Many of you may have noticed the article about metropolitan area property taxes in a recent Sunday’s Star Tribune.  Typically this article runs before the truth-in-taxation meeting, but it was reprioritized this year given the amount of other notable news stories.

 

The chart below illustrates the average tax increase (decrease), by county, for all cities with population over 5,000 in the metropolitan area for taxes payable in 2021.  The chart looks somewhat unusual this year as two counties have average decreases for all cities in the county.  The City of Maplewood’s average decrease was -0.3% for residents in SD #622.  The average decrease in Ramsey County was -1.5% for all cities combined.  The average increase for the entire metropolitan area by county is 0.5%.

 

Anoka County is somewhat skewed, due to a 14.3% increase in Lino Lakes.

 

While property taxes remain stable throughout the metro, market values are increasing for taxes payable in 2021.  The chart below shows the average increase in market value, by county, for all cities in the metropolitan area with populations over 5,000.  The average increase in Maplewood was 6.2% (median value home).  The average increase in Ramsey County for all cities was 5.2%.  The average increase, by county, for the metropolitan area was 4.0%.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

 

Ramsey County Redevelopment Properties - Ponds at Battle Creek and County Correctional Facility

 

The City of Maplewood and Ramsey County have scheduled the second community forum for the South Maplewood – Century Avenue Redevelopment Properties which will be held virtually on January 27, 2021, between 4 and 6 p.m. All are welcome to join the online meeting, and those in attendance will have the opportunity to participate in the meeting. The meeting agenda is outlined below. Please see the project website – www.maplewoodmn.gov/Ponds - to register for the meeting and for additional project information. A link to the meeting will be emailed to all registrants prior to the start of the meeting.

 

Meeting Agenda – Wednesday, January 27, 2021 – 4 to 6 p.m.

 1. Welcome

 2. County Goals and Values

 3. Summary of Engagement

 4. Development Analysis

 5. Interactive Exercises

 6. Next Steps/Closing

PARKS DEPT

 

WARMING HOUSE UPDATE:

We are scheduled to open warming houses at Afton Heights, Gethsemane, Wakefield and Four Seasons Parks on January 11. Please visit: https://maplewoodmn.gov/221/Skating-Rinks for information on hours, COVID guidelines and more.

 

These are the reports for this week. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns.

Melinda

Dec 21

December 18, 2020

Posted on December 21, 2020 at 11:02 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: December 18th, 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, January 11th, 2021. 

• Here are this week’s updates from various departments

• We hosted a send-off /reception for Council members Smith and Neblett on Monday, the 14th just prior to the final Council meeting of the year. The reception was well attended and it was a great way to say our good-byes and honor their service to the community.  I will miss you both very much and am grateful that I had the opportunity to work for you. I know you two stated that you learned a lot from me and staff but I would say that I likely learned more from you. Good luck in your next adventures and stay in touch.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

National Community Survey - Results

The City of Maplewood has received the results from the National Community Survey and Polco. 83% of Maplewood residents rate it is a great place to live. This is up 4 points from 2018 community survey.

 

The survey gathers input on the livability of the community and measures resident’s opinions on ten facets of community:

 

Economy

Mobility

Community Design

Utilities

Safety

Natural Environment

Parks and Recreation

Health and Wellness

Education, Arts, and Culture

Inclusivity and Engagement

 

427 residents were sampled from September 29th through November 24th.

 

Staff is pulling together the data and intends to share the results widely with the council, community, and staff. Stay tuned for more updates.

 

Holiday Wellness Tips from your Wellness Committee Members

 

We thought we would bring our employees some resources and ideas to help our employees improve their mental wellbeing, physical health and social connections. Read below to meet a few of our wellness committee members and what they have been doing over the last few months.

 

Mike Sable-HR Director/Assistant City Manager

I’m an active yogi and take classes 3x per week. I practice Baptiste Yoga. There are free classes here: http://upyoga.buzzsprout.com/

I’ve also been walking outside each day. One-mile per day.

Lastly, I’ve been reading more and spending time cooking each week. Hello Fresh is helping me find new recipes and I’m trying to be more deliberate about cooking.

 

Judy DeBilzan-Accounting Technician

One thing that I think is really important this time of year is drinking water. Summer time it is so easy but in the winter we forget. Especially this winter when we might not be working out as much as before. Buy yourself a new water mug. Make it special!

Every morning before getting out of bed tell yourself this is going to be a great day. Start out positive!

Get outside every day. Even if it is a walk to the end of the driveway. There is nothing like fresh air!

 

Terrie Rameaux- HR Coordinator

Take advantage of our EAP thru Medica/OPTUM as a resource to reach out to.

Do a white elephant exchange with co-workers and/or family members.  The dumber/uglier the gift, the better!! If your co-workers don’t want to do it….YOU still do it, for the fun of it.  Make it anonymous.

 

Lindsay Herzog-Wellness Coordinator/HR Assistant

Stick to a routine as much as you can. Control what you can control by scheduling your workouts, prepping your meals and sticking to a consistent sleep pattern

Some great apps to follow for yoga and meditation are the Down Dog App, Calm App and headspace

https://www.downdogapp.com/

CALM – an app for sleep, meditation and relaxation

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/gratitude

For the holidays take a drive or walk to look at Christmas lights or do a cookie or fruit exchange with friends, family or co-workers.

Derek Fritze-Police Sergeant

Check out 1,000’s of verified benchmark WOD’s , plus demos, scaling and progressions

https://wodwell.com/

BearFitness - YouTube  This is the CrossFit gym I go to in  White Bear Lake. Check out workouts tips and other resources

 

Michelle Larson, Licensing Specialist

I came across this blog about mindfulness, which I think is more important now than ever.   https://www.thepathway2success.com/10-mindfulness-activities-you-can-try-today/

I recommend employees take advantage of the Medica app.  It is a treasure trove of information, and the journeys are easy and insightful.

I have been keeping a Gratitude Journal since COVID started.  Below are some of the benefits:

1.      It Increases Positivity. When you take the time to focus on the good things in your life you naturally become more positive. ...

2.      It Improves Self-Esteem. Keeping a journal is a very personal activity and allows you to be present with your own achievements. ...

3.      It Helps You Sleep Better

4.      It Makes You Happier

5.      It Reduces Stress.

 

Meghan Janaszak, Administrative Office Supervisor

We have been taking walks outside before dinner to look at the neighborhood Christmas lights.  It gets everyone moving and the lights are so pretty to look at.

On Fridays we pick a movie (lately it is Christmas Chronicles II on repeat), let the kids make a fort, and have a picnic on the floor with homemade popcorn.

Be intentional about staying connected with others.  Zoom and FaceTime are great ways to still “see” each other and catch up.

 

 

City Hall Holiday Hours

City hall will be closing at 1 pm on Christmas Eve as has been the practice the past few years. Staff will have the choice of using vacation, annual leave, personal holiday or comp time for the remaining hours past 1 pm. You may also stay and work the entire day if you wish. The DMV Counter will also be closed at 1 pm.  Please speak with your Supervisor and inform them of what you would like to do on the 24th. We will be closed on Friday, December 25th and on Friday, January 1st.

 

FINANCE

Maplewood Receives Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 2020

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has awarded its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award to the City of Maplewood for its 2020 Budget and Capital Improvement Plan.

The award represents a significant achievement by the City of Maplewood.  It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.  In order to receive the budget award, Maplewood had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.  These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device.

There are over 1,600 participants in the Budget Awards Program in the United States and Canada.  Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional association serving the needs of local, state, and provincial government officials and finance practitioners.  The association is headquartered in Chicago, IL, with offices in Washington, D.C.

 

Maplewood Receives Certificate of Achievement for 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

The Maplewood Finance Department recently received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Statement (CAFR) for the Year Ended December 31, 2019.  The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.  The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate the City’s financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.  Every member of the Finance Team works on the development and production of the CAFR. 

Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional association servicing the needs of nearly 19,000 appointed and elected local, state, and provincial-level government officials and other finance practitioners.  The association is headquartered in Chicago, IL with offices in Washington, DC.

 

PUBLIC WORKS

The Fight Against Covid

The Covid virus has impacted the country in so many ways and the fight against this virus has taken many forms.  Since the beginning of the pandemic the City’s Facilities Maintenance staff has made fighting the Covid virus their top priority.  A lot of effort goes into disinfecting and cleaning the City’s facilities each day.  To aid in this work staff utilizes a number of pieces of equipment including various floor cleaning devices and a new Clorox sanitization spray device unit.

 

Along with disinfecting surfaces staff insures that soap and towel dispensers remain full, trash is emptied, and disinfect products are readily available in common areas and meeting rooms.  Often much of this works takes place after hours or goes unseen throughout the day.  However, this does not take away from the importance of the work being done or the impact it has on providing as safe of a work place as possible.

Along with the cleaning and disinfecting work facility maintenance staff has helped with upgrading the HVAC systems for the City Hall, Police Department, the 1902 Building, and the Parks and Recreation Maintenance Building to include air purification systems that help reduce airborne particles, control pathogens (such as flu and the Covid virus), and reduce odor while providing an overall nergy savings.  Recently staff has coordinated the installation of hand free sanitizing dispensers in City Hall, the 1902 Building, and the Parks and Recreation Maintenance Building.  Additionally, staff has also been able to complete building maintenance helpdesk request and other small project (such as painting in the Police Department area).

 

I would like to extend a big thank you to the facility maintenance staff for all their work and effort in helping fight this virus in order to provide as safe a work place as possible.

 

PARKS DEPT

Skating Rinks

The Park Maintenance Crew has been hard at work getting Maplewood’s 13 ice rinks ready! Due to Executive Order 20 -13, warning houses will be closed through January 10 but the following will be done to facilitate skating during this time:

Satellite restrooms added at the warming house sites

Extra seating available near the rinks

Staff will turn lights on and off at Four Seasons, Gethsemane, and Afton Heights during normally scheduled warming house hours

Wakefield lights programmed to stay on until 10pm during the skating season

Hockey nets will be out, weather permitting

 

For rink updates, please check the website: https://maplewoodmn.gov/221/Skating-Rinks

 

These are the reports for this week. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. I will not be sending a FYI again until January 8th due the holiday schedule. Have an enjoyable weekend and a wonderful holiday season.

Melinda

 

Dec 14

December 11, 2020

Posted on December 14, 2020 at 9:29 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: December 11th, 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, December 14th. 

 

• We are hosting a virtual reception for Councilmembers Neblett and Smith that starts at 5 pm. I hope you can join in on the zoom reception.

 

• We will hold the public hearing on the 2021 Budget and the 2021-2025 CIP. We will also have an EDA meeting at 6:30 pm. The purpose of the meeting is to review CARES Fund expenditures and to review two LOI’s for the City Fire Station on Londin Lane and one for two parcels in Gladstone. This will be a closed meeting. If we need more time we will add to the end of the regular City Council meeting.

 

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMINISTRATION 

The Nature Center and Parks and Recreation Task Forces met last week. The two groups have developed a series of recommendations that will be shared with the City Council. One item to note is that the task force members wanted to view the Maplewood Community Survey prior to sharing their recommendations. There will be an update on the task forces at the December 14th City Council meeting.

 

The Maplewood Community Survey was sent to residents earlier this year and is a tool that’s used every-other year to gauge resident input on city services and quality of life measures. The National Citizen Survey (NCS) conducted the survey and they gather resident opinion about community livability and government services.

 

Through the use of these survey and action-oriented toolkits, we can use the data to:

 

Improve service delivery

Strengthen communication with stakeholders

Identify clear priorities for strategic plans and budgets

 

The survey is expected to be finalized December 15th.

 

The survey results will be shared broadly with the City Council, community, and staff. The information gathered will help inform decision-making on the issues most important to the community and be used as a performance management tool to benchmark against communities in the Minnesota and around the country.

 

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

Police:

Mayor Abrams, Councilmember Neblett and four members of Police Department staff met via Zoom with representatives of Maplewood’s faith community on 12/9/2021 to discuss growing the partnership and the security of our houses of worship.  The meeting included a presentation on security issues, resources, and challenges related to threats for houses of worship.  The Police Department also educated attendees on current programs such premise surveys and free CPR/AED trainings for church staff and members.  Two Officers also spoke briefly about the Police Departments 2021 Strategic Planning process and solicited input and advice from members of our faith community to include in the 2021 plan.  Overall the meeting was well intended and informative, and we thank Mayor Abrams and Councilmember Neblett for continuing to build this important relationship, we look forward to future involvement.

 

New Police Sergeant:

With the retirement of Sgt. Kevin Johnson from the Police Department a process was started in November to fill the vacancy of Patrol Sergeant.  Four applicants went through an application review, interview process, promotability index, and a detailed leadership  assessment with a testing center.  From this process two of the four applicants scored high enough for the final phase, which was an interview with the Public Safety Director.  Although the process was thorough, the decision was difficult due to the quality of the applicants involved, but it was decided that Officer Joe Demulling would be promoted from Acting Sergeant ( a temporary position) to the rank of promoted Sergeant effective in January.  We are indeed fortunate that the quality of our staff, and our continued efforts to promote leadership, are producing the quality of applicants that we have.

 

Police Department Strategic Plan:

After numerous meetings with stakeholders and police staff the Police Department will be meeting (via Zoom) next Tuesday to finalize their 2021 Strategic Plan.  This plan operates under the umbrella of our City Strategic Plan and is a road map for the objectives, goals and action steps that will guide our police department in 2021.  If there is any Council Members who have not yet given input but would like to offer their insights or perspectives they can contact Lt. Helle in the Police Department to arrange for an interview.

 

Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee:

Despite the limitations placed on meetings due to COVID-19, the Police Department continues to build relationships with and use the Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee in a number of capacities.  Led by Lt. Bierdeman, MAC members have participated in a number of ride-alongs and given feedback in the past couple of months.  We have also had MAC members sit on the promotional panel for Police Sergeant and the hiring panel for new police officers.  At the monthly MAC meeting (held via Zoom) on 12/9/2021 there was presentation and discussion on police officer hiring, recruitment efforts by the police department, and a presentation by the investigations division.  Following the presentations the MAC continues to give valuable perspectives from both a personal and cultural perspective.

 

 

These are the reports for this week. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Thank you.

Melinda