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:
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.
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.
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.
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.