In a program aimed at giving residents insight into how an area is doing, several cities and counties in the north and east metro areas are submitting performance reports to the state.
Not many jurisdictions have taken part: This year, 32 cities (4 percent of the total) and 24 counties (28 percent) are being reimbursed by the state auditor for going through the exercise, up from five cities and five counties last year.
Participants include Anoka, Ramsey and Washington counties and the cities of Circle Pines, Coon Rapids, Little Canada, Maplewood, Mounds View, Ramsey and Woodbury.
Some of the reports make more entertaining reading than others, with citizen gripes and compliments included. Others are more clipped but can contain interesting factoids, such as the percentage of time Woodbury firefighters (at least five of them) take less than nine minutes to show up (82 percent).
“I’ve seen a decline in the city overall,” one Maplewood resident wrote. “More crime, schools are not all that good. There is no good place to shop. We would love to sell our home and relocate but finances have us here for a few more years. Growing up in Forest Lake we always came to Maplewood. I’ve seen the decline for many years.”
Individual reports can be found at http://bit.ly/2ur8KDa.
County to oversee school district elections
The Anoka County Board has approved three contracts that put the county in charge of running school district elections scheduled this fall.
The Columbia Heights School District has already notified the county about its election, while plans for elections in the St. Francis and Forest Lake districts are still being finalized, according to the Anoka County elections department.
County commissioners unanimously approved the three joint powers agreements at their Aug. 8 meeting.
The school districts will pay the county $4,000 to $6,000 to administer the elections, which will take place Nov. 7. The county has been providing contracted services to school districts since 2007.
This year’s elections will affect about 93 percent of the county’s voters, said Cindy Reichert, the county’s elections manager.
“Most of our residents will be going to the polls this fall,” Reichert told commissioners. “This is indeed the largest local election year that we’ve had in Anoka County that I can recall.”
City leaders mull organized trash collection
New Hope city leaders are looking into an organized trash collection system amid worries about the impact of garbage trucks on city streets.
The city allows residents to choose their own garbage hauler from among seven licensed haulers. With an organized system, one or more haulers would contract with the city.
More than 100 residents packed a meeting Monday to voice concerns during a “listening session” on the subject.
“We know that there are strong opinions on both sides,” Mayor Kathi Hemken said at the meeting.
The city has looked at the possibility of organized garbage collection in the past. A 2015 study showed that 52 percent of residents surveyed favored an organized collection system.
Residents can take a new survey on the topic at City Hall or on the city’s website through Aug. 31.
Council members plan to review the survey results at a Sept. 18 work session. More information on the subject is available on the city’s website: ci.new-hope.mn.us.
Design work approved for Hwy. 36 project
An ambitious overhaul of a dangerous intersection in Oakdale moved ahead last week when Washington County commissioners approved design engineering for an overpass and three roundabouts.
The Hwy. 36 intersection with Hadley Avenue has twice as many crashes as similar intersections elsewhere, said Kevin Peterson, the county engineer working on the $20 million project.
Currently, 30,700 vehicles pass through the intersection on Hwy. 36 daily, a number projected to grow to more than 44,000 in 2030.
A Hadley Avenue overpass will be constructed over Hwy. 36 with one roundabout to the south and two more to the north, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation plans.
A section of the Gateway State Trail that crosses Hadley near the intersection will be tunneled under the south roundabout, Peterson said.
By removing stoplights at the intersection, the project will “eliminate a key bottleneck,” said Commissioner Stan Karwoski, who represents Oakdale on the County Board.
Construction is expected to begin in 2019.
Reconstruction of 105th Avenue to begin
Blaine plans to break ground this week on a $7 million reconstruction project for 105th Avenue NE.
To mark the occasion, the city is holding a groundbreaking ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Monday at 2025 105th Av. NE.
The project attracted more than $3 million in state funding this year.
The beat-up thoroughfare handles about 10,000 vehicles a day, with much of the traffic flowing to the National Sports Center. City leaders and residents have long worried about the road being an unsafe eyesore.
The reconstruction will add two new roundabouts and a raised median between NE. Davenport Street and Radisson Road. Travel speeds also will be reduced from 50 to 40 miles per hour.
Construction is expected to wrap up in the fall of 2018.