Happy New Year Everyone!
It’s hard to believe we’re already more than a week into 2021. I hope you had a joyous Holiday season in spite of COVID-19 and all the changes and challenges the pandemic has brought so many of us this past year. With the roll out of the vaccines, I’m hopeful for a better 2021. At City Hall we continue to be open for in-person business, however, masks are still required.
We had our first City Council meeting of 2021 (virtual) on January 4th. Our 2 new Council Members, Ann MacGregor and Cathleen Reffkin, were sworn in on January 4th at City Hall by our City Clerk, Kris Lindquist. Welcome and congratulations to both of you! I was also sworn in and am excited to start my 3rd term as your Mayor.
In December 2020, the Council approved our 2021 budget and tax levy. The levy had a 2.78% increase. However with a 3.50% new home growth, many of you will see no increase or even a small decrease. In December, the Council also approved a pay increase for the Council. However as prescribed by state law, these increases will not go into effect until January 2023. The Council’s pay has not been adjusted in over 15 years.
At the January 4th meeting, the Council appointed a Commissioner and two alternates to the Parks Commission. We re-appointed Sarah Hussein for a three year term and two new alternates, Hal Goldstein and Nancy Richeson. The Council also appointed two people to our Planning Commission – Damian Young will be returning for another four-year term, and new-comer John Sturgess was appointed to a four-year term, as well. It was exciting to have so many well qualified candidates; however it did make the decision very difficult.
With eight applicants for four positions, I suggested to the Council that we revisit out Parks Commission Ordinance and consider increasing our Parks Commission from its current five member panel to seven members. The Parks Commission was at seven members many years ago, and this expansion would allow for more people to be involved in city government. This will be one of our agenda items at our work session on February 1st.
During the 2020 election cycle, the City Council candidates heard from many residents about poor or no broadband or high speed internet. This topic will be discussed on our agenda for January 19th.
The other important topic for our first meeting was roads. We held a public hearing for our local street improvement projects; however we found out about a “minor” glitch. The dial-in number for the meeting was incorrectly published, so the Council continued the public hearing
to our next meeting on January 19th. This will give all the affected residents another opportunity to weigh in and have any questions or concerns answered and heard.
In 2021, we will be doing quite a few road projects; Hardscrabble Road and Hardscrabble Circle, Loring Drive, Stonebridge Road, Stonebridge Circle and Minneapolis Avenue. In addition, we will also be improving Sunnyfield Road from County Road 110 N. to the western boundary of the School District property. Sunnyfield Road is designated as a Municipal Staid Aid (MSA) road, and we will be using MSA funds for these improvements.
Just a reminder, if you haven’t signed up for our email blasts please visit our website and consider doing so. Go to www.cityofminnetrista.com, and click on the “City Projects” button at the bottom of the page. It’s just another way for you to stay informed on what’s happening in your community.