The Inver Grove Heights City Council tentatively agreed to allot $33,000 in the city’s 2018 budget toward four months’ salary for an additional police officer at its Dec. 4 work session.
The following spring, the department intends to buy and train its first police dog. The new officer, to be hired in September and attend general police training over the final months of 2018, will ensure the department won’t be short-staffed when a canine officer is chosen. The canine officer will leave for intensive training with the dog in the spring.
Mayor George Tourville said while interviewing for the city’s vacant police chief position recently, every candidate was surprised to hear that the growing city of 35,000 didn’t have a police dog. In some instances, a canine officer is equal to three or four human officers, he said.
Some less-populous Dakota County cities, such as West St. Paul and South St. Paul, already have police dogs.
Donations will pay for the dog and the department will begin fundraising efforts upon approval of the 2018 budget. Interim police chief Sean Folmar said the dog will cost about $20,000, which covers the dog, a kennel, three months of training with the St. Paul Police Department and police car modifications.
Once a canine officer is hired, the St. Paul Police Department will pick a suitable dog for the department and the officer, Folmar said.
The City Council will vote on the 2018 budget at its Dec. 11 meeting.
Canterbury Commons project in jeopardy
Tensions on the Shakopee City Council have cast doubt on whether Canterbury Park’s $400 million redevelopment project will proceed as planned.
City Council Member Mike Luce, the apparent swing vote on the five-member body, surprised colleagues last week with an editorial in the Shakopee Valley News saying that he is finding it nearly impossible to vote for the project. Luce lamented that he’s made repeated attempts to meet with Mayor Bill Mars to discuss his concerns about the size of the development. He’s also been reluctant to support establishing a tax-increment financing district to help cover infrastructure costs.
Mars said in an interview that all council members are privy to the same information. Each member met with Canterbury CEO Randy Sampson and developer Doran Cos. to discuss the proposal at length.
Mars concedes that he missed one e-mail from Luce — dated Sept. 26 — requesting to speak privately without referencing Canterbury. But Mars said he was shocked to read Luce’s comments about his “unwillingness to meet.” Immediately after reading Luce’s commentary article, Mars said, he left Luce a voice mail and sent e-mails asking to chat.
Mars said they ran into one another at Holiday Fest, Shakopee’s annual holiday party, and Luce said it wasn’t the right time to talk. In a later e-mail, he said, Luce wrote that he wasn’t seeking “to repair any relationship with anyone on the council.”
On Nov. 21, Sampson detailed the racetrack’s evolution in town and its long quest to add residential housing to the sprawling property. He pitched the project as an economic windfall for the city, which would generate about $7 million in property taxes once complete.
The proposed living complex, dubbed Canterbury Commons, would include more than 600 apartments, 100 townhouses and a 120-room boutique hotel. The luxury residential component would anchor a much larger mixed-use development for specialty retail, eateries and office space.
It would take a super majority — four out of five votes — to make a comprehensive plan amendment allowing for high-density housing on the sprawling site. Canterbury is currently zoned as an entertainment district, which does not permit residential housing.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Mars tried again to discuss the project with Luce, offering to meet immediately after they adjourned.
Council Member Jay Whiting demanded to know why Luce hadn’t called Mars. “I just don’t understand it,” Whiting said.
Luce stood up, slipped on his coat and leaned into the microphone. “This is the same B.S. you guys always pull,” he said. Then he walked out.
If the project fails to win approval Dec. 19, Doran Cos. said it will be forced to walk away after eight months of planning.
City sets up site for recycling holiday lights
This year, residents can give old lights new life instead of pitching broken bulbs in the trash.
Now through Jan. 31, locals can drop off tangled and defective lights at Savage City Hall, at 6000 McColl Drive, to be dismantled and recycled by individuals with disabilities.
Acceptable donations include: holiday lights, electric cords, telephone and appliance cords. The city cannot accept battery packs, cord adapters, plastic rope lights or compact fluorescent lights.
To find other participating locations around the metro, visit recycleminnesota.org/recycle-your-holidays/
Council approves 4.4 percent levy increase
The Prior Lake City Council has approved a 4.4 percent tax-levy increase totaling about $12 million to help fund a handful of new city employees.
The 2018 budget allocates salaries for two full-time staff members, a police officer, a maintenance worker and a temporary building inspector. A full-time drug task force officer position will be funded through the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC).
City officials attempted to apportion its $33.5 million budget according to the 2017 community survey results, dedicating 45 percent of its $12.7 million general fund to public safety. Major purchases will include a fire truck, street sweeper, police squad car and additional dump truck.
SMSC also is donating $440,000 toward public safety to help cover increasing police costs.