Woodbury city staffers are worried that renewed concerns about water pollution could mean higher water rates in the future to correct any problems, City Council members learned in a recent memo.
One cause of concern: the long-running issue of underground 3M Co. chemicals.
The staff is recommending that Woodbury no longer assess property owners for water and sewer improvements and that all utility work be funded through the Water and Sanitary Sewer Utility Fund rates.
Such a change would “require a significant increase in water and sewer rates,” the latter of which are closer to metro area averages. The estimated annual cost for this change is $730,000.
The average Woodbury resident’s water bill now is the lowest on a list of comparable Twin Cities suburbs compiled by city staffers. Based on quarterly use of 23,000 gallons, a Woodbury resident paid $24, less than half the 12-suburb average of $59 and about a quarter of Maplewood’s $103.
The state has tightened guidelines for what is considered to be a healthy amount of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), leading city officials to reassure residents that all is well but privately maintain caution.
The memo says that “with the re-emergence of the PFC issue, what additional reserves will be needed for potential water treatment is a big unknown.”
Painting commissioned of St. Croix bridge
Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski and other civic and business leaders have commissioned an official painting to celebrate the Aug. 2 ribbon-cutting of the new St. Croix River bridge.
The painting, by Erik Sletten, will be unveiled Sunday during the Lumberjack Days pancake breakfast at the Water Street Inn in downtown Stillwater.
Sletten toured the bridge in April and has been at work on the painting since then. He is preparing three works as a series and will select the image that will be the official commemorative artwork.
“Erik gave a couple of us a preview of his three interpretations, and they’re gorgeous,” Kozlowski said. “It’s going to be really difficult to pick which is best, and I have a feeling that people will like all three.”
Prints will be sold at Sletten’s booth at the Summer Tuesdays Stillwater downtown riverfront festival on Tuesday and Aug. 1 and at Stillwater’s Lift Bridge restoration groundbreaking events on Aug. 2.
Net proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Summer Tuesdays, Inc., which hosts both the weekly summer riverfront events and the annual Stillwater Harvest Fest in October.
Homeless youth facility gets a boost
Anoka County’s only transitional housing facility for homeless youth soon will be receiving $100,000 to fund outdoor improvements and buy a van.
The county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority last month unanimously approved allocating federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to HOPE Place. Anoka County administers the federal grant program.
The Coon Rapids facility opened last year in what was once a dance studio. It’s run by the Anoka-based nonprofit HOPE 4 Youth, which plans to spruce up the facility’s outdoor areas and purchase a van to transport young adults to jobs, the workforce center and medical appointments.
The County Board is expected to give final approval to the funding allocation later this month, according to Lisa Jacobson, HOPE 4 Youth’s executive director.
Auditor: Expense policy needs work
When internal auditor Melanie Greufe gave her annual report to the Washington County Board last week, she mentioned problems in accounting for some expenses, mostly meals and lodging during out-of-state travel.
Greufe told commissioners during their televised weekly meeting that policies needed updating “to ensure only allowable transactions are charged to individual purchasing cards.”
Commissioner Gary Kriesel asked for a more detailed explanation, including how much money was involved. Greufe responded that total overcharges were less than $1,000.
“I don’t want the taxpayers to think we took a trip to Tahiti or anything like that,” Kriesel said.
County Administrator Molly O’Rourke told commissioners that a review of expense policies was underway and that “we always want to check these things early before they develop into something more concerning.”
O’Rourke complimented Greufe for her diligence in inspecting the county’s financial procedures and noted that only a few Minnesota counties have an internal auditor.