The Ramsey County Board will take over management of the Ramsey Conservation District starting July 1, following action taken by commissioners Tuesday.
The board approved the final administrative steps needed to manage the district, whose independently elected board voted earlier this year to disband itself.
County officials said they felt well-positioned to take control.
"We are confident that we have the long-term organizational stability and resources to continue and expand the valuable programming and services that the skilled Conservation District staff provide to our community," said Board Chairman Jim McDonough.
All six district employees will join the county staff and work for the newly constituted Soil and Water Conservation division, an arm of the county's Parks and Recreation Department.
Every county in Minnesota has at least one conservation district, each run by a locally elected board. Starting in July, Ramsey commissioners will serve as that board.
Conservation districts help capture grants and provide funding to protect natural resources and offer educational help and expertise to residents, businesses and governments.
State lawmakers rewrote the Ramsey district's legislation in May to transfer the duties to the County Board.
Commissioners set to vote on their pay
Annual pay for Ramsey County commissioners next year may inch closer to six figures.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday before deciding whether to give themselves 2.5 percent raises, starting Jan. 1. A final vote is scheduled for June 26.
The increase for each commissioner would amount to about $2,300 a year, bringing the salary for six of the seven commissioners to $94,734. The commission chairman, Jim McDonough, would be paid $97,696 in 2019.
The proposed raises would match the 2.5 percent pay bumps commissioners gave themselves last year. They also would match the increases that the County Board has granted most county employees for next year.
The hikes would bring Ramsey's pay closer to that of Hennepin County commissioners, whose salaries of $113,566 are among the top for metro-area County Board members. The average commissioner in the seven-county area is paid $77,946. Each County Board in Minnesota sets its own pay.
City signals support for affordable complex
St. Anthony officials are showing early support for an affordable housing proposal taking shape next door to the city's shuttered mobile park.
Since initial plans for the 70-unit, $18.7 million project were unveiled last month, City Council members have signaled unanimous support for $1 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) to help fund it.
"I'm not always very supportive of TIF, but I definitely am in this case," Council Member Hal Gray said at a May 22 meeting.
Nonprofit developer Aeon wants to build income-restricted apartments at 2401 Lowry Av. NE., with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Aeon officials say the apartments would be affordable to those who earn 60 percent or less of the area median income.
The recent City Council vote means St. Anthony is endorsing Aeon's application to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for low-income housing tax credits. Part of that application includes the city's TIF commitment.
The four-story, L-shaped building is being proposed for a site next door to the location of the former Lowry Grove mobile home park. The controversial sale of Lowry Grove to a developer in 2016 and its closing in 2017 have drawn fierce pushback from displaced residents and neighbors.
Market-rate apartments, senior housing and an assisted-living facility are planned for the now-vacant site, prompting an outcry for more affordable housing to replace what was lost.
Aeon expects to submit a formal land use application for the project later this year, depending on funding. Should the proposal win city approval in the coming months, the complex could open as early as 2020.
Second Harvest gets $18 million from state
Second Harvest Heartland, one of the nation's largest food banks, is getting an $18 million boost in state funding from the bonding bill recently signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
The nonprofit, which is moving its headquarters from Maplewood to Brooklyn Park, will use the funds for a $50 million overhaul of its distribution facility.
The additional space will accommodate more volunteers, food donations and refrigeration capacity for the food bank's growing emphasis on fresh fare, officials said. Their goal is to finish the new facility by early 2020.
Second Harvest officials say that about 57 percent of the food it distributes is fresh.