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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Jan 17

January 13th, 2017

Posted to City Manager Blog by Chad Bergo


Meetings and Announcements:  Our next City Council meeting will be held on January 23rd. Workshop time not settled yet. Likely start time is 6 pm.

Carver PTO/ Health Partners Meeting: The meeting will take place on January 19th at 6:30 pm at Carver School. This has been posted as a potential quorum of the City Council and is on the City Web Page. I am working the PTO on agenda for the meeting. 

Martin Luther King Day Celebration: We have been asked by LMC to forward to you the attachments concerning Monday, January 16th, state-sponsored events to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King.  See attachments for details. 
Legislators’ Town Hall Meeting: Senator Wiger has  scheduled two Town Hall meetings on Saturday, Jan. 21. The first is from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Century College East Campus with Rep. Peter Fischer. The second is from 11 a.m. to noon with Rep. Leon Lillie, Rep. JoAnn Ward and Sen. Susan Kent at Maplewood Council Chambers.  Please attend if your schedules allow. 

Please mark your calendars for this Annual Event:

Invites you to its "Annual Conversation with Ramsey County Legislators!"
Thursday, February 23, 2017
6:00 - 6:45 - Board Meeting (quorum required)
6:45 - 7:30 p.m. - Networking, Pizza and refreshments
7:30 - 9:00 p.m. - Dialogue with Legislators

North St. Paul City Hall, 2400 Margaret Street in North St. Paul
Upstairs in Chambers

All legislators representing Ramsey County communities have been invited. If you are a legislator and you'd still like to participate, please contact to RSVP.
All local, elected and appointed officials, including city, county, township, school district and water management organization staff, are encouraged to attend. Pass the word!
Take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet with legislators and local officials from throughout the county, become familiar with the broad range of issues and learn how we can work together during the upcoming session.
Updates from Staff and Council:

State of the City Event:  Thanks to all who attended and especially our organizers, Dewey, George and Chad and all the other staff who offered support.  I received great feedback from Attendees, people liked the program, the awards, the Mayor’s address, and the food, too. Photos of our Business Awards Winners.

Acting Mayor Designation: City Clerk Andrea Sindt has researched this and found that Council Member Juenemann is in line to be the Acting Mayor for 2017. Council Member Smith will be Acting Mayor in 2018.  We will have a staff report under Unfinished Business on the Council agenda on January 23rd to make that appointment. 

Cable Commission Data Request: Staff has been notified that we will be sent the requested information by January 31st. They cite the size of our request for the delay. We will let you know when it is delivered.
Attached are three flyers with information regarding Maplewood’s 60th Anniversary Celebration. Looks like a fun evening. 

Energize Your Congregation!

Congratulations to the Salvation Army for winning the Energize Your Congregation! Energy Challenge.  Energize Your Congregation! is one of four energy programs the City has implemented as part of the Xcel Energy Partners in Energy program.  Throughout the Challenge the Salvation Army earned 58 points for the following energy actions:  5 energy efficiency tabling events (up to 5 points total); 28 Home Energy Squad® visits (28 points), and 1 energy audit for their building (25 points).  For their energy saving successes, the Salvation Army will be treated to a free party catered by the 5-8 Tavern and Grill with games, prizes, and a special visit by Tolby®  the giant energy saving firefly.

Ten local congregations participated in the 3-month Energize Your Congregation! energy challenge.  All congregations should be congratulated on their efforts to reduce energy, save money, and be good stewards of the earth!  Through their efforts the Challenge has resulted in a total of 53 Home Energy Squad® visits, 1 home energy audit, 2 subscriptions to Xcel Energy’s Windsource®, and 4 congregation energy audits.      

Participating Congregations-Final Points
Salvation Army-58 pts
Redeeming Love Church-39 pts 
Cross Lutheran Church-30 pts
Gethsemane Lutheran Church-25 pts
Holy Apostles Episcopal Church-16 pts
Arlington Hill United Methodist Church-11 pts
Twin Cities Hmong Alliance Church-7 pts
Beaver Lake Lutheran Church-5 pts
Christ United Methodist Church-5 pts
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church-0 pts

CDRB and HEDC Meetings

The city’s community design review board will be meeting this coming Tuesday and will be reviewing three projects.  The first project is reviewing the entire second phase of the Hazelwood Medical Commons building.  While a CUP was approved by the city council last June, design review was still required for the second phase of this building.  All 140,000 square feet of this building will be built and ready for occupancy later this year. The second project being reviewed is for the complete demolition and rebuild of the McDonald’s located at 1797 Cope Avenue.  The existing building was built in the early 70s so a new building and refreshed site will provide a renewed look for this neighborhood.  Lastly, the CDRB will take a second look at the Maple Ridge proposal – 2515 White Bear Avenue.  The council tabled this project which includes two new standalone buildings at its November 28 meeting and asked for the developer to consider some changes.  The applicant has submitted updated building elevations and made some adjustments to the site plan.  After the CDRB review of this proposal it will be brought back to the city council for final review. 

The city’s housing and economic development commission will be holding its quarterly meeting next Thursday.  The HEDC will be reviewing its annual report, electing officers and receiving a report from the city’s code enforcement officer on his 2016 efforts.  In addition, the HEDC will be updated on the several projects and initiatives the EEDD department is currently working on within the Gladstone neighborhood. This information will be similar to what the council received and discussed at its November 28, 2016 workshop. 

News From local sources and agencies   Reference:  Year-end review – Cable Commission, MCC, Police Dept.   Reference: Health East Surgery Center    Reference:  Maplewood Performing Arts Center – Pole Competition

From Metro Cities:
Metro Cities Seeks Candidates for Board Seats

Metro Cities has vacancies on its Board of Directors that will need to be filled by the Board. Members serve two, two-year terms. The board is made up of 19 city officials, comprised of elected and appointed officials. The board is responsible for overseeing Metro Cities’ budget, strategic and legislative priorities. The Board also makes appointments to the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB), Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), Grant Evaluation and Ranking System (GEARS), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Boards. The board meets the third Thursday of each month.  …click for full newsletter

Metro Cities Seeks Interested Candidates for a Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) Seat

Metro Cities is seeking interested candidates for an opening on the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB). Metro Cities has statutory appointing authority for making municipal appointments to the TAB. The TAB qualifies the region for federal transportation planning, operating and construction funds. The TAB is also an official participant in the region's 3C transportation planning process on issues that affect transportation planning and funding in the Twin Cities region.

Municipal appointees for the TAB must be elected officials. …click for full newsletter

Legislative Update

The Legislature completes its second week of the 2017 session today. A key focus has been passing health care premium relief. The Senate passed a bill to this effect on Thursday and the House is expected to pass its bill next week. The bills differ from the Governor’s proposal on premium relief. The Legislature has also passed federal tax conformity bills. The Legislature will resume next Tuesday. Metro Cities, along with other local government organizations, …click for full newsletter

DEED Presents Key Economic Development Programs to House, Senate Committees

DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy presented the agency’s economic development and workforce development initiatives to the House and Senate jobs committees this week. Hardy highlighted the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund, two key local economic development programs that are supported by Metro Cities. 

As Metro Cities has reported, the funds were significantly cut by the 2016 Legislature, reducing state support for business expansions, …click for full newsletter

Legislative Audit Findings on Legacy Amendment

The House Legacy Funding Committee this week discussed a 2011 report by the Legislative Auditor (OLA) on the Legacy Amendment and funds. The Legacy Amendment was enacted in 2008 to increase the state sales tax by 3/8th of one percent, with the monies allocated to four funds: outdoor heritage (33%), clean water (33%), parks and trails (14.25%), …click for full newsletter

Minnesota Housing Explains Proposed 4% Housing Tax Credit Changes

The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (Minnesota Housing) met with city officials from across the region Thursday to explain their proposed changes to the 2018 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (4% credits).  Minnesota Housing has proposed several changes to the criteria for allocating credits, based on the projected scarcity of state bonding authority in 2018. (Changes to the 2017 allocation of the 4% tax credits were proposed and then dropped by the agency in late 2016.)  …click for full newsletter

Broadband Grant Awards Announced, Include Grant in Metro Region

DEED announced statewide broadband grant awards this week. Grants totaling $34 million were awarded to 42 projects across Minnesota. These awards, the third round of grant funding since 2014, were funded with an appropriation in the 2016 legislative session.

Metro Cities has advocated for metro eligibility in the broadband grant program criteria, highlighting areas of the region that don’t have qualifying broadband access. …click for full newsletter

Bills of Note

The following bills were introduced in the Legislature this week. Bills pre-empting local control, staggered terms for the Metropolitan Council, inflow-infiltration mitigation assistance, and Sunday liquor sales are among bills introduced this week.

HF 93 – Prohibits landlords from charging a prospective tenant more than the actual cost of a tenant screening service.
S.F. 30, Appropriation of $10 million from the bond proceeds fund for metropolitan cities inflow and infiltration grants. Authorizes the sale and issuance of state bonds.
…click for full newsletter

From MLC
A focus on 'the big three': Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities to focus on transportation, taxes and bonding in 2017
From the BEMIDJI PIONEER: The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities are ready for another legislative session in St. Paul with the hope of accomplishing what was left unfinished in 2016. During a press conference call Thursday, coalition lobbyist and former state representative Marty Seifert outlined the strategy for the 2017 session, with major focuses on a tax bill, a bonding bill and transportation funding.

Gov. Mark Dayton unveils $300 million tax plan while GOP unveils health care blueprint
From the MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE: Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders volleyed competing, big-ticket spending proposals Thursday that if enacted would deliver tax cuts to farmers and families paying for child care, and provide quick financial assistance to people facing steep premium hikes on their health insurance.
Combined, the proposals by the DFL governor and Republicans who control the Legislature would cost the state $600 million - about $300 million each. Coming in the first week of the session, they set an early framework for negotiations and possible clashes between Dayton and legislators in the coming weeks and months.

Cities want action on aid, infrastructure in 2017 session
From the MARSHALL INDEPENDENT: Rural voters sent a strong message to Minnesota legislators in November's elections. Now, it will be up to lawmakers to take action on that message, say advocates for cities in Greater Minnesota. "One major theme that came out of the election is that voters in rural Minnesota, and other rural areas throughout the country, feel left behind," said Bradley Peterson, executive director of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Peterson was one of a group of CGMC members, including area city officials, who discussed the 2017 legislative session in a Thursday conference call.

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

That’s the news for this week. Stay warm! Melinda

  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