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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. 

Apr 12

April 9, 2021

Posted on April 12, 2021 at 12:07 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: April 9th, 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, April 12th  with start time of 7 pm.

 

• We will have a workshop at 5:30 pm to interview candidates for Advisory Board/Commissioners.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

Labor Negotiations

AFSCME Local 2725 voted to ratify the mediated collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday evening. The specifics of the Agreement are included in your Council packet, Item G-5.

 

Metro Cities Annual Meeting

Metro Cities Annual Meeting is held each April to conduct elections to the Board of Directors. This year’s meeting will be held as a virtual meeting Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 4:00 pm. The meeting will begin with guest speaker Rick King, Chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), followed by elections of Metro Cities Board officers and members and remarks by President Myron Bailey and Vice President Melanie Mesko Lee. Please mark your calendars! The slate of recommended officers and Board members was emailed to city officials. A quorum of members is required for the meeting. Call-in instructions will be provided in advance of the meeting. Please RSVP to Metro Cities’ Office Manager Jennifer Dorn at jennifer@metrocitiesmn.org

 

Sales Tax Exemption Bill – Legislature

The full Taxes Committee is expected to unveil the initial draft of the full omnibus tax bill, which will include the language of the Property Tax Division report, shortly after this week’s spring recess. It’s expected that the request for a sales tax exemption for the North Fire Station will be included in the Omnibus Bill. HF 181 would exempt sales tax on construction materials for the project, which could save the city. To learn more click here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=House&f=HF0181&ssn=0&y=2021

 

Letter from Superintendent Osorio

Dear City Leaders,

As you know, our voters graciously approved a significant facilities bond referendum in the spring of 2019 that is providing for beautiful renovations to our school district buildings. As you know, our facilities master plan includes the closing of some schools, the expansion of others, and the complete construction of two new elementary schools. To refresh your memory, here is a link to our Facilities Referendum Presentation from back in 2019. 

 

We are finally at the stage where we are announcing our new attendance boundaries, which will take effect beginning Fall of 2022. During this past winter and early Spring, we had a diverse committee of community members working to construct a thoughtful boundary plan for our schools. Their final recommendation was presented to our school board at a work session this week.

 

Yesterday, we notified our staff and families of the proposed changes and are currently in the public comment period. I wanted to share the message with you that was sent to our families, as I’m sure you may be contacted by community members that are upset. Boundary changes typically evoke passionate feelings from communities. Changing schools is never an easy process. Our committee was equity-focused during the process and did a wonderful job of balancing our schools while sticking to our guiding principles, which include:

Will be largely contiguous boundaries

Will balance socio-economic status

Will balance school communities of color and spoken languages

Will last for 5-7 years, but may need to be changed based on district demographic and housing trends

Will limit the time on a bus to 30 minutes, to the extent possible

Will keep walking distances to ½ mile for elementary school notwithstanding unsafe walking conditions

Open enrolled students will move to schools with their cohorts to the extent possible

Intra-district transfers will follow the current district procedures

 

Over the next few weeks we will be hosting informational meetings with our families while collecting feedback about these proposed changes. You can view the information by visiting our website www.isd622.org/boundaryproject.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Warm Regards,

Christine Tucci Osorio

Superintendent

 

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

 

Introduction to our new social worker

Amy Kuusisto-Lathrop has been a Ramsey County clinical social worker for 18 years.  She currently works with both the children’s and adult crisis teams.  She is originally from Minnesota and has two children.  She graduated with her master’s degree in social work from the College of St. Catherine/University of St. Thomas.  She has prior social work experience working for Allina and Fairview hospitals as well as with the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center.

 

Amy will spend her first week at the police department setting up her office and getting to know the officers and supervisors.  She will be doing ride-along to better understand what challenges our officers face on a day-to-day basis.  She will also be meeting with her peers in Saint Paul.  In her second week, Amy will meet with the Mental Health Outreach Team (MHOT) for the first time and will be up and running shortly after that.  Her primary role will be following up on mental health-related calls, working with the MHOT, and co-responding with officers in the field.  Amy is excited to serve the city of Maplewood and is looking forward to partnering with Maplewood Public Safety to better meet our community's mental health needs.    

 

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

 

Homeless camp behind the Hy-Vee (update from Molly Wellens)

Hi all-

Just an update to the homeless encampment behind Hyvee. This morning we had a meeting with the non profits and continue to work on a resolution. We believe that the individual in the van with the larger structure near CareFree Cottages has left. People Incorporated and Mac-V are working to find a place for the primary individual of the other encampment. There are 1-2 other individuals that come and go from that encampment but our understanding is they are not open to a shelter or alternative housing.

Representatives from Maple Ridge and CareFree Cottages and the City are going to meet this coming Tuesday, the 13th, to walk the site and have face to face conversations regarding who is willing to do what/pay for what. Both private property owners have expressed they believe the individuals at the encampments are trespassing and they do no want them there.

We have tentatively floated the time of 10 am on the 16th as a deadline for the area to be vacated. However, MDH will be bringing their mobile vaccination clinic to Maplewood on the 21st and 22nd so there is a desire to allow the site to continue through that time period.

Please reach out if you have further questions or concerns. If you have a strong preference as to when you would like the encampments vacated (do you want them out on the 16th or do you prefer they are allowed to stay through the vaccination dates or do you have another time frame?), please let me know that as well.

Thank you.

Molly, 651-398-7156

 

Hillcrest Master Plan – former golf course in Saint Paul

The City of Saint Paul is seeking public comment on its two finalist master plan scenarios, as well as a draft housing policy for the former Hillcrest golf course located at the southwest corner of Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road. To review and comment please visit stpaul.gov/hillcrest – comments are due by Friday April 16. The Hillcrest Master Plan will determine future land uses and a new street network for the 112-acre former golf course. Saint Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development has lead this master plan process, in collaboration with community members, consultants, and the Port Authority – which is the property owner. Staff from Maplewood have served on this project’s technical advisory committee, meeting at least monthly as this project has progressed.

 

HyVee Grocery Store Update

During the month of April, the contractor is providing the finishing touches on both the outside and inside of the building construction.  Later in the month of April, they will be providing an overlay for the parking lot and finishing up all of the exterior building finishes.  HyVee Construction is currently working on the placement of the store fixtures and equipment for the various areas and departments, and building inspections staff is working with the various contractors on closing out the building remodeling and the various mechanical, electrical, refrigeration and life safety systems.  We are working with the contractor to address any outstanding items so we will be able to issue a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy by the end of April which will help facilitate the Department of Agriculture approval to allow stocking of shelves by the first week in May.  Grand opening for the store is scheduled to occur on June 8th.

 

Spring Clean Up Volunteers - April 17, 2021, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Aldrich Arena Parking Lot (1850 White Bear Avenue)

Maplewood City Council members are invited to participate in this year’s Spring Clean Up.  There will be some changes to this year’s event, including having have only one entry gate on the south side of the parking lot for greeting and taking payment.  The City Council are invited to greet the vehicles as they wait, take in the food shelf donations, and distribute event giveaways.  All will be done socially distanced with donations and giveaways distributed in a box extended toward the vehicle.  The greatest need for entry gate volunteers is from 7:45 a.m. to 10 a.m.  Vehicles start lining up at 7 a.m. Check out the details at www.maplewoodmn.gov/cleanups.  Please consider joining us at the event!  Please let Jeff or myself know if you are interested in volunteering and if so, what time you can participate.

 

 

These are the reports for this week.  Please call if I can address any questions or concerns.

Melinda

Apr 12

April 2, 2021

Posted on April 12, 2021 at 12:06 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: April 2nd, 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, April 12th  with start time of 7 pm.

 

• We will have a workshop at 6 pm to interview candidates for Advisory Board/Commissioners.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

New Deputy City Clerk

Congratulations to Christine Evans on her promotion to Deputy City Clerk on 3.29.21. She has been with the City for 17 years.  Christine was hired in 2004 as a part time Customer Service Representative at the MCC. In 2007, she was promoted to a full time Office Specialist and then promoted again in 2014 to Member Services Supervisor at the MCC. In 2016 she transferred to City Hall as Customer Service Center Receptionist when the city partnered with the YMCA to take over MCC operations.

 

I am very appreciative of the good work Christine did at the front desk. She had a difficult task of managing visitors to the DMV, city mail and taking phone calls. Generally she was our visitor/caller controller.  She always displayed amazing patience and kindness to all she interacted with. I know she is going to be a great Deputy City Clerk as well.

Please join me in wishing Christine well in her new role.

 

FINANCE

 

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act

Depending on which population figures are used, the City of Maplewood is eligible for approximately $4.5M in federal American Rescue Plan Funding.  Those calculations will be refined over the next couple of weeks by the State of Minnesota.  Local governments can expect to receive 50% of their allocated funding by May 6, which is 60 days after the President signed the bill.  The second installment will be distributed one year later. 

 

As of the end of March, the Treasury has yet to release initial guidance providing details for authorized spending.  However, the Act defines expenditures according to the following four broad purposes:

 

Response to the Covid-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impact (We expect this category to be an expanded version of the original CARES Act).

 

To provide premium pay to essential workers (We will need the definition of essential under the Act).

 

To reimburse the City for revenue losses due to Covid-19, compared to revenues collected in the most recent fiscal year (We need further guidance to determine if this also applies to Enterprise Funds).

 

To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure (Most financial experts have determined that this includes both sanitary and storm water infrastructure, and that investment in equipment and buy-down of debt is included.  Details on whether this includes asphalt expenditures are still unclear). 

 

In addition to the funding provided to local governments, the law provides economic assistance to individuals and families, employee benefits, small business assistance, public safety assistance, transportation and infrastructure funding, health and human services aid, housing and utility assistance, additional broadband funding, nutritional assistance, and education assistance.  There will be many avenues for the community to access the assistance provided in these other areas of the law.  Of the programs noted above, the City will have the ability to apply for public safety assistance (firefighter grants) and transportation and infrastructure grants.  These programs are in addition to the estimated $4.6M in ARP funding that the City receives automatically.

 

Similar to the CARES funding, the City will track authorized expenditures and spend down the grant by the required timeline of December 31, 2024.  Some of these authorized uses will create budget surpluses that will provide flexibility to the City Council in making future spending decisions.  Staff will prepare a presentation with options for the City Council as soon as the Treasury releases further guidance.     

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

 

Spring Clean Up Volunteers - April 17, 2021, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Aldrich Arena Parking Lot (1850 White Bear Avenue)

Maplewood City Council members are invited to participate in this year’s Spring Clean Up.  There will be some changes to this year’s event, including having have only one entry gate on the south side of the parking lot for greeting and taking payment.  The City Council are invited to greet the vehicles as they wait, take in the food shelf donations, and distribute event giveaways.  All will be done socially distanced with donations and giveaways distributed in a box extended toward the vehicle.  The greatest need for entry gate volunteers is from 7:45 a.m. to 10 a.m.  Vehicles start lining up at 7 a.m. Check out the details at www.maplewoodmn.gov/cleanups.  Please consider joining us at the event!  Please let Jeff or myself know if you are interested in volunteering and if so, what time you can participate.

 

Update on Grants to Maplewood Businesses

Ramsey County has released a report on its Small Business Relief Fund. The county received $15 million from the federal CARES Act to provide grants to small businesses, sole proprietors, and creative businesses in Ramsey County. The Small Business Relief Fund provided 56 businesses in Maplewood with $603,800 in direct grants. Ramsey County partnered with the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and 14 outreach agencies to support Ramsey County businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs/sole proprietors. The county has provided a dashboard that details the businesses that received funding. The full dashboard is available at https://data.ramseycounty.us/stories/s/emhh-76pj. If you filter by Maplewood, you can see the specific Maplewood businesses that received funding.

 

 

COMMUNICATIONS

 

Maplewood/Ramsey Co ahead of MN Census self-reporting rate

Thanks to a partnership with Ramsey County and Census officials, Maplewood slowed the projected slide in residents’ self-reporting Census data. Based on projections, Census officials expected Maplewood’s self-reporting rate to drop from 84% in 2010 to 80% in 2020. Turns out, that even in a pandemic, a new online reporting system, and misinformation about the Census from the Presidential administration, 82% of Maplewood residents self-reported. This was above the state rate of 75% and Ramsey County’s rate of 79%.  Here’s the great news, even at 75%, Minnesota led the nation in self-reporting for the 2020 Census.

 

PARKS AND RECREATION

 

2021 Community Garden Registration Full

The City of Maplewood’s Edgerton Community Garden registration has filled. This program enables residents to grow healthy organic food and reap the health benefits of being outdoors, getting their hands in the dirt and great exercise!

The Community Garden is located in Edgerton Park near the baseball fields and the playground. The park is located near the corner of Roselawn and Edgerton in Maplewood, and just north of Edgerton Elementary School.  Of the 70 plots, there are 58 in-ground plots, 10 raised bed garden plots and 2 ADA raised beds. The gardening season begins Friday, April 30 and participants agree to use organic gardening methods, keep their plots weed-free and adhere to COVID guidelines.

Thanks to the efforts of the park maintenance crew, gardeners will be able to use the new compost container that was built last fall.

  

LOCAL NEWS OF INTEREST

 

Highland Park-Pig's Eye Lake land swap draws East Side scrutiny https://www.twincities.com/2021/03/29/highland-bridge-land-swap-at-pigs-eye-lake-wood-chipper-draws-east-side-scrutiny/

 

Driver’s License Covid extension ending – like to increase visitors to our DMV  https://www.twincities.com/2021/04/01/more-than-100000-drivers-have-invalid-licenses-now-that-covid-19-extension-has-ended/

 

These are the reports for this week.  Please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Please note that I will be out of the office this afternoon starting at noon. I can be reached on my cell phone if needed.

 

I wish you all a very happy Easter.

Melinda

Mar 28

March 26, 2021

Posted on March 28, 2021 at 8:25 PM by Chad Bergo

Weekly FYI - March 26th, 2021

Melinda Coleman

Fri 3/26/2021 4:25 PM

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: March 26th, 2021

 

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

·         The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, April 12th  with start time of 7 pm.

 

·         We will have a workshop at 6 pm to interview candidates for Advisory Board/Commissioners.

 

·         Here are this week’s updates from various departments:

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

 

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

 

Pay Equity Act Compliance:

 

 

 

The City of Maplewood is compliant with Local Government Pay Equity Act:

 

The State of Minnesota has notified the city that were are in compliance with

 

the Local Government Pay Equity Act. Since the law was passed in 1984, jurisdictions have

 

worked diligently to meet compliance requirements and our work was commended.

 

 

 

cid:image003.jpg@01D72250.FF5B98C0

 

 

 

 

 

American Rescue Plan Act:

 

The League of Minnesota Cities recently hosted a webinar outlining the provisions of the American Rescue Plan (see attached).

 

 

 

https://www.lmc.org/news-publications/news/all/american-rescue-plan-act-summary/

 

 

 

The $1.9 trillion plan tries to address recovery in these broad areas:

 

 

 

$1,400 for individuals, $3,000 per child tax credit, etc… in Economic assistance to individuals and families

$50 billion in small business assistance

$400 million in public safety grants

$50 billion Transportation and infrastructure

$107 billion in Health and human services

$32.5 billion in Housing and utility assistance

$7 billion in Broadband

$400 million in Nutrition Assistance

$2.5 billion in Education Assistance

 

 

It’s estimated that Maplewood would receive between $4.0 - $4.6 million in direct payments made in two installments over 2 years.

 

 

 

Articles of interest from Mike Sable on how to make spending decisions with Stimulus Funds

 

https://mayorfunk.com/how-not-screw-up-stimulus-windfall/

 

https://www.governing.com/finance101/gov-deadly-public-finance-sins.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramsey County Establishes County wide HRA Levy (from Star Tribune, March 22nd, 2021)

 

Ramsey County plans to levy a nearly $12 million property tax that will help fund a first-of-its-kind plan to build and preserve affordable housing and support minority-owned small businesses.

 

County officials want to activate the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) levy in 2022 to pay for their new Economic Inclusion and Competitiveness Plan. That will raise about $11.5 million annually in additional property taxes, at a cost of about $45 a year for a median-valued home of $245,700. Ramsey is the only metro county that doesn't collect a levy through either its HRA or economic development authority.

 

"There is a significant housing crisis and Ramsey County has not been an aggressive funder at the table historically. We intend to change that," said Kari Collins, Ramsey County community and economic development director. "This plan demonstrates we can no longer be reactive when it comes to both supply and preservation of affordable housing."

 

Collins said the county will use the HRA tax to seed this equity and affordable housing work, leveraging more funding from state, federal and private partnerships. The plan stresses that investing in communities of color will grow the prosperity and economic competitiveness of the entire region, she said.

 

A draft plan was unveiled at a County Board workshop Tuesday, with all seven commissioners praising it.

 

"I just wanted to express my excitement for this and acknowledge this will probably make some folks uncomfortable," said County Commissioner Nicole Joy Frethem. "There are folks who are just uncomfortable when we talk about things about race equity and diversity."

 

But Frethem said the only way to end systemic inequities is through bold, systematic solutions like the county's 51-page plan, which highlights housing, educational and wealth disparities between white residents and communities of color in Ramsey County, which are oftentimes worse than national disparities.

 

For example, Ramsey County needs 500 additional minority business enterprises to match the U.S. minority business ownership rate. The county also needs 15,000 new affordable housing units to meet swelling demand, which has overwhelmed homeless shelters and resulted in outdoor encampments.

 

The plan lays out 10 overarching strategies, including: preserving and increasing the supply of the most affordable rental units; expanding affordable homeownership and housing stability, especially for communities of color who have experienced "historic wealth extraction"; and developing pathways to Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous business ownership.

 

The document references the bulldozing of a large swath of the historically African American Rondo neighborhood in the 1960s to make room for Interstate 94, describing how hundreds of Black residents lost their homes and businesses and the opportunity to build generational wealth.

 

"While we cannot totally erase the harm caused to past generations by racial discrimination in housing and employment, the county commits to our role in forging a better path forward," said County Board Chairwoman Toni Carter in a letter at the beginning of the draft plan.

 

During the presentation Tuesday, county staff members spoke about dozens of specific strategies ranging from deeper partnerships with Minnesota Housing to developing underutilized county-owned parcels into affordable housing to offering low-barrier loans and grants to small businesses.

 

In developing the plan, the county has spent 18 months talking to St. Paul and suburban leaders and residents. Under state law, St. Paul and North St. Paul would need to consent to the county activating its HRA levy within city limits, because they had active HRA levies authorities before 1971.

 

"We want to learn more about the [HRA levy] details but support the goal of creating additional resources dedicated toward affordable housing and livable wages to give everyone opportunities," said Shoreview Mayor Sandy Martin.

 

Roseville Mayor Dan Roe was also supportive of the plan and the proposed levy. He said the county's suburban communities want to make sure projects in their neighborhoods will be eligible for some of the funding.

 

"There is a lot about it that we in Roseville agree with," Roe said.

 

The county collaborated with the Center for Economic Inclusion, a St. Paul-based nonprofit focused on driving racial equity and inclusion, which provided consulting services.

 

"It's time to rewrite the story of Ramsey County through the lens of racial equity and inclusion," said founder and CEO Tawanna Black.

 

Ramsey County is the most diverse in the state, with 40% of its 550,000 residents identifying as Black, Asian, Hispanic or Indigenous.

 

At Tuesday's meeting, County Commissioner Jim McDonough acknowledged impatience and fatigue around equity talk that goes nowhere. He said this plan is a public commitment to action.

 

"Today I just want to acknowledge and celebrate an action plan that is before us to do better in our community," he said.

 

Shannon Prather • 651-925-5037

 

 

 

Articles of interest from Mike Sable on how to make spending decisions with Stimulus Funds

 

https://mayorfunk.com/how-not-screw-up-stimulus-windfall/

 

https://www.governing.com/finance101/gov-deadly-public-finance-sins.html

 

 

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

 

 

 

Fire Station Bids

 

The North Fire Station Construction Project celebrated another milestone this week.  On Tuesday, March 23rd the bid opening was held.  The bid was well attended (virtually) and bids came back slightly under the projected range.  The project’s construction manager will be vetting the bids for the next week and the final results will be shared as soon as they are available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the reports for this week.  Please call if I can address any questions or concerns.

 

Melinda