June 22, 2021 Council Meeting Update

Agenda (click to open)

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Before I get into the details of this meeting...

At a previous meeting, a concept plan for a truck stop was proposed on a property next to our new interchange. While this truck stop would be relatively small, our planning commission was split on it due to its "ugly" factor. I can guarantee you that my idea of what's ugly isn't commonly shared amongst our commission or council members. All I see is commerce, and I like commerce. But, a fellow council member brought something up that I hadn't contemplated. Their specific focus was sex trafficking, but that prompted me to start asking other city leaders and people in the business questions about overall crime at these facilities.

When this concept plan came before the council, we accepted it 4-1 (I voted to approve it). It's a concept plan, so it's not binding. Since I've dug into this I've decided not to support this if it comes before us again in a preliminary plat. At this time we have plenty of pending developments in that area and I think at a minimum we can wait to see what else comes along for that property.

Item G: Special Election

Council member Okerlund resigned a few weeks back, and since he had more than 2 years left in his term the city is obligated to have a special election. The council decided to appoint David Fashant as an interim replacement until the election.

This item was to approve a resolution stating this information. The city will have to pay for the election, and a primary, if we get more than 2 candidates. Hopefully the candidates applying are serious candidates since a primary would double our costs.

Item H: Water supply needs

With the recent drought and heat, we realized that using Champlin as a backup isn't so reliable. Unfortunately, that means we may need to add a third well to the central water system. To top that off, we had a rush vote a month back to spend an extra $130k on the second well to get more capacity, which we needed (questionably) but definitely wouldn't have with a 3rd well. I previously mentioned that I really don't like those snap decisions and I should have trusted my gut.

Item I: Police and Fire budget

Bottom line on the fire budget, they want a roughly 3% increase in funding. There were a lot of details, but I'm happy with where that ended up.

The police budget didn't have a number stated, but it did have some significant increases. It includes a new officer in January (in addition to the new officer and additional administrative secretary we just hired) and 2 more new squads ($132k). We currently have 9 full time officers with a total staff of 12. Even with our significant population increase over the past 5 years, the city's crime and total incidents have stayed relatively flat.

Item J: Council Budget Parameters Discussion

The primary focus with the budget is where money needs (or in some cases, wants) to be spent and what revenue the city needs for that spending.

As I've previously made clear, my goal is to limit the growth of the tax Levy. For the past 5 years, we've had double-digit yearly increases in spending (HERE). For too long the increases in our tax base were spent rather than using ANY of it to relieve our historically high tax burden. In fact, if you add in ALL the tax revenues from those 5 years, the individual burden went significantly up. Many people like to use the tax rate as a comparative measure (See here for my opinion on that number). For those years the tax rate did drop 4 points. What you DON'T hear is that rate doesn't include the new franchise or EDA taxes. If you include those, the rate actually increased a few points.

To be clear, this doesn't mean I'm looking for a cut. It simply means I want to limit that growth.

Item L: Single Family Zoning Ordinance

This one has far too many details to get very deep into. Suffice it to say that we are trying to decrease the density of new developments and the amount of push back is incredible. The push back isn't even from the builders. I have talked to many people in this city and the theme from people in BOTH new developments and old is simple - decrease the density. Many people in the new developments wanted larger lots with their new homes but they aren't available here. My goal is to change that on a number of fronts.

Item P: Pineview Lighting Options

This continues to be on our radar as I believe we really only have 2 (possibly 3) members that want to change anything here. The update the last council did on the south side of Pineview leaves that area lit up all night. Some people like that, some don't. In case this hasn't been obvious, I think night skies are beautiful. I also don't think I have a right to take that from someone. But, here we are. The options are; removing every other light, removing specific lights, put the lights on a timer (e.g. off from 10PM-4AM), or doing nothing. We asked staff to check into what "removing every other light" entails.


As always... feel free to contact me regarding specific questions / issues.