Food-service businesses in Afton will be required next year to use compostable or recyclable straws, utensils and to-go containers, following a City Council vote last week.

The council approved an ordinance requiring more eco-friendly food service wares. The new rules, to take effect in October 2019, are designed to ban plastic straws and utensils and reduce the amount of single-use plastics that wind up in the city’s waste stream.

Those affected will include restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, vending trucks and other businesses providing food in Afton.

The movement to eliminate single-use plastic drinking straws has ramped up in recent years. Several cities across the nation have implemented bans.

Mara Klecker


Council hikes tobacco sales age to 21

Minnetonka last week became the 12th city in the state to vote to raise the tobacco sales age to 21. The measure, unanimously approved by the City Council, takes effect Jan. 1.

“I think we did something important tonight,” Mayor Brad Wiersum said afterward.

The age restriction applies to sales of all tobacco-related products, including electronic devices, such as Juul Labs e-cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month targeted the company and said that e-cigarette use by teens had reached “an epidemic proportion.”

The City Council rejected a proposal restricting the sale of flavored tobacco for all ages.

Minnetonka joined Minneapolis, Edina, St. Louis Park and several other cities that have restricted the purchase of tobacco since May 2017.

Miguel Otárola

Ramsey County

Board sets ceiling for 2019 property tax

The Ramsey County Board last week set the ceiling for its 2019 tax levy at 4.3 percent.

“We continue to balance fiscal restraint with investments in our resident-first priorities to improve and modernize service delivery,” County Manager Ryan O’Connor said in a statement.

How much taxes will rise for individual homeowners depends on a number of factors, including the market value of a property. The owner of a home valued at $255,000, the median price expected next year in Ramsey County, would pay $3,578 in the county portion of the property tax bill — a $69 increase.

The board may still lower taxes before next year’s rate is finally approved in December, but it can’t raise it higher than the proposed 4.3 percent hike.

Greg Stanley

Inver Grove Heights

Council takes $8.7M bid for fire station

The Inver Grove Heights City Council has approved an $8.67 million bid to build the city’s third fire station.

The winning bid, submitted by Jorgenson Construction of Coon Rapids, was the lowest of five bids the city received. Construction will include structural support to permit firefighters to train on the roof, more room in the basement for training and four bifold doors to improve response times.

The station will sit on an 11.7-acre site near several industrial and commercial businesses. The department has wanted a third station for more than a decade but the project stalled owing to the recession, Fire Chief Judy Thill said. City officials hope to have the station built by spring 2019.

Erin Adler