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The city of South St. Paul is taking steps to replace Steve King, who will retire this summer. The City Council began discussing the hiring process at its Jan. 16 meeting. King is retiring because he is 66 years old and it’s time to bow out, he said.

Announcing his retirement now gives the city time to hire a new city administrator and bring the person up to speed while King is around to help.

“There’s just a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge and the internal culture … that I carry around with me,” he said.

Jim Miller, a consultant from the Mercer Group, is leading the search to fill King’s shoes.

King has held city government roles for decades and said he’s seen a general trend of more collaboration between departments and less hierarchy in municipal government.

It’s an exciting time for South St. Paul, King said, with many road construction and development projects just beginning, while others are coming to fruition.

“Over the next five years the face of the city is going to change remarkably,” he said.

Erin Adler

Burnsville

Mayor Kautz speaks at national mayor’s conference in Washington, D.C.

Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz spoke on a panel focused on the #MeToo movement at the winter meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, held Jan. 24 through Jan. 26 in Washington, D.C.

The four-woman panel — also including the mayors of Tacoma, Wash., Salt Lake City and Oakland, Calif. — discussed how “mayors can work together with community leaders and others to improve gender equality and end sexual assault and harassment,” according to the program.

Kautz discussed her leadership role as one of the first women in the Catholic Church to become a professional but unordained minister and her efforts to obtain a loan without her husband when she first started her business in the ’80s. Kautz said women shouldn’t give up now that their “voices have been unleashed”— and that government leaders must listen to them.

Kautz, who has led Burnsville since 1994, was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 2009 to 2011.

Erin Adler

Dakota County

County seeks input on Comprehensive Plan

County officials are seeking residents’ opinions on the future of parks, transportation and use of resources to help them craft their 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the document that guides the county’s decisionmaking process.

From 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Dakota Lodge at Thompson County Park (1200 Stassen Lane, West St. Paul) will host an open house where residents can talk about trends and brainstorm new ideas.

County leaders create the plans every 10 years. For more information, visit hkgi.com/projects/DakotaCoCompPlan.

Erin Adler

Eagan

Business survey gives city high marks

Business owners and managers generally believe Eagan is a good or excellent place to work and visit, a recently released study of the city’s business climate found.

The National Business Survey asked 198 business owners and managers to rate the city in eight areas: safety, mobility, natural environment, built environment, economy, recreation and wellness, education and enrichment and community engagement.

Ninety-nine percent of respondents said the city was an excellent or good place to work, higher than the national average. About 88 percent thought it was an excellent or good place to visit while 73 percent said it was a good or excellent place to retire. The numbers for visiting and retiring were similar to the national average.

One area receiving a lower score when compared to benchmarks was employers’ ability to find qualified job applicants. Thirty-two percent of employers gave a positive assessment of the number of applicants available, a lower rating than the national average. Employers most often sought technically skilled employees and unskilled labor, the survey found.

Public transportation and travel were areas that received lower ratings, with 49 percent saying they thought travel by public transportation was good or excellent, a similar number to the national average. When asked about bus or transit services again in the survey’s governance area, 70 percent rated those services as good or excellent, which is still higher than the national average.

The National Business Survey is one of four surveys conducted by the National Research Center Inc., a Colorado-based firm “focusing on the information requirements of the public sector, including nonprofit agencies, health care providers, foundations and local governments,” according to its website.

The survey cost about $14,000, said Tom Garrison, the city’s spokesman.

Erin Adler

Shakopee

Canterbury Park to race basset hounds

Shakopee’s premiere horse track is adding another lap dog to its racing schedule.

Starting this summer, basset hounds will sprint the straightaway at Canterbury Park. The canines join bulldogs, corgis and dachshunds — all of which come with their own cheering sections. Novelty race days typically attract more than 15,000 visitors to the southwest metro track.

Basset hounds won a social media survey asking racing enthusiasts to vote between four small breeds: Yorkies, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians and basset hounds. “We wanted to stay with a breed that’s entertaining to watch,” Canterbury spokesman Jeff Maday said. “That seems to be what the fans want.”

Liz Sawyer