COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: June 26th, 2020
Meetings and Announcements:
- The next City Council meeting will be held next Monday, July 12th. Here are the updates from various departments below. We received really great news regarding Governor Walz release of CARES Act funds. Ellie has provided a summary of the funding rules.
Updates from Staff and Council:
CARES Act Funding
Governor Walz recently released $841M in federal CARES Act Funding to help local governments cover the costs of expenses related to Covid-19. The City of Maplewood has already applied for the funding, which should be released in early July. The City of Maplewood qualifies for up to $3,067,102 in CARES aid, but must certify eligible expenditures to keep the aid. The funds cannot be used for revenue replacement, but can be used to cover costs incurred in responding to the Coronavirus public health emergency. The guidance says that “funding can be used to meet payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the Covid-19 public health emergency.” Eligible costs can be recovered if they were incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 1, 2020. For jurisdictions outside of Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, unencumbered aid must be sent to the home county after November 15th. However, in Ramsey County remaining funds must be sent to Regions Hospital or another major hospital in the County after November 15th.
Absentee Voting for the Primary began Friday June 26 at 8am and will continue through Monday, August 10. All three Maplewood offices are on the Primary ballot. Sample ballots are available on our elections page.
Ramsey County has initiated a Vote by Mail campaign to encourage voters to request an absentee ballot to vote by mail. This is being promoted to provide a safe voting environment and to reduce in-person activity both during absentee voting and on Election Day. All Ramsey County voters were mailed a flyer (attached) this week, I received mine on Wednesday. To promote the health of mail absentee voters, a recent court decree has removed the requirement of a registered mail absentee voter to have a witness sign their envelope for the August Primary.
Maplewood residents can still vote in-person at city hall during the absentee period. As city hall doors are locked, staff will be diligent to assist Maplewood voters who come to city hall. As we can only enforce voter eligibility requirements, we will encourage but not require voters to use hand sanitizer, face masks and a single-use pen.
Public Works Crew Updates
Our street and storm crews have finished a number of yearly activities including the repainting of ½ of all painted messages on City streets and the annual inspection of sump catch basins. Sump catch basins help collect sediment and help keep it from entering our streams and wetlands. Based on these inspection crews have started work on the annual removal of collected sediment from the sump catch basins.
This week we have brought in a screener to screen all of the street sweeping we collected this spring. The screening and disposal of the sweepings are done according to MPCA requirements. The screener has a conveyor on each end of the tumbler, "dirty" sweepings come out one end and "clean" the other. Once we have completed the screening, which usually about 15 hours of screener machine time, the dirty sweeping are hauled to SKB Landfill - Licensed Industrial Waste landfill. We then haul the clean sweeping to a fill site. The reason we rent a screener and screen instead of just hauling it all to SKB is to reduce the cost of disposal. SKB cost $63 per yard and the screened clean sweeping cost $2.50 per yard.
Each year our sewer crews clean and jet 1/3 of all City sanitary sewer lines. Crews are making great progress and anticipate completing this work in about 3 weeks. We maintain a list of known areas that need to be cleaned each year and our crews will begin working on them next.
Park maintenance work continues with our crews cutting grass and doing spring maintenance work on ball fields. This week crews have also responded to a number of maintenance requests from residents that were received and entered into our asset management system.
All of the above work is able to be completed thanks to our mechanics and the hard work they do keeping our equipment and vehicles maintained in good working order.
Congratulations to Tamara Hays
Congratulations to Tamara Hays, park maintenance staff, on the completion of the American Public Works Association (APWA) Public Works Certificate Program. This program is designed to further participants understanding of:
- Organization and functions of public works and public works professionals.
- Technical functions undertaken by public works professionals, with emphasis on roadway design, construction, and maintenance.
- Advanced concepts in public works operations and maintenance.
- Effective creation and delivery of workplace and technical documents.
Engineering and Public Works Administration Update
Construction of the City’s three street improvement projects are well underway. Engineering staff has been busy with inspection, construction staking, working with residents, and coordinating with our contractors. A big milestone was reached on the County Road B and Arcade Street project this week with Xcel completing their gas main replacement work within the project area. Their work was done ahead of schedule which will really help us met our project’s completion goal. This has been a great partnership and a good example of agencies working together to provide the best service to our residents. A big thank you to everyone who helped make this a success.
Since the middle of March the Engineer and Administration staff have done a great job of adapting and finding ways to continue to provide residents with great service. Despite the pandemic and all the challenges it has brought we have reviewed and issued 80 Public Works permits, worked with residents on 258 requests/issues, and have continued to provide engineering comments on all development reviews. Additionally, staff has completed the final touches on the 2019 Annual MS4 permit report. Another thank you for all the people across multiple departments that help with this effort.
John DuCharme has worked hard to help two property owner resolve chronic drainage issues that caused flooding concerns during spring melts and heavy rains. With the help of our Public Works maintenance staff we are planning to complete one project in house and coordinate with a contractor on the other. Thanks John for keeping the ball moving on these two items.
News from the week:
https://www.twincities.com/2020/06/19/carjacking-spree-continues-3-more-in-maplewood-followed-by-3-robberies-in-st-paul/ Reference: Sgt. Michael Nye
https://www.startribune.com/longtime-maplewood-nature-center-may-close-for-good/571392342/ Reference: Mayor Marylee Abrams
https://www.startribune.com/readers-write-police-reform-supreme-court-maplewood-nature-center-closing-covid-19/571354602/ - FYI – opinion article regarding the Nature Center
https://www.twincities.com/2020/06/23/maplewood-is-closing-its-nature-center-hopes-community-partners-will-step-forward-to-pay-for-programming/ Reference: Joe Sheeran
https://www.startribune.com/walz-to-release-841-million-in-covid-19-aid-to-local-goverments/571489812/ Governor releases aid to cities and counties.
This is the reports for this week. The 4th of July is fast approaching. Fire-works likely, celebration at Hazelwood Park is not. Stay safe.
As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Melinda