Anoka County commissioners agreed last week not to raise the county’s property tax levy in 2021, giving residents a break during a year of tough finances amid the pandemic.

The County Board approved a maximum levy of zero, meaning the levy can only be lowered before the budget is finalized in December. Board Chairman Scott Schulte said the flat levy was a result of paying down debt over a long period of time while “tightening our belt during this COVID crisis.”

The county cut costs with furloughs and employees working from home, and federal funding from the CARES Act helped cover COVID-19-related expenses.

At least three metro counties — Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington — plan no hike in next year’s property tax levy.

Kim Hyatt

St. Louis Park

COVID closes teen hangout for good

The SLP Nest, a teen hang-out and coffee shop primarily run by youth, has closed permanently due to COVID-19, the Nest’s website said.

“It’s hard for us to really accomplish our mission if we can’t bring youth together,” said Julia Schmelzer, chairwoman of the Nest’s board. “The other part is the fundraising piece.”

The coffee shop shut down in March with the outbreak of COVID, and closed for good on Aug. 31.

The hangout secured funding in 2018 to lease a building less than a mile from the intersection of Hwys. 100 and 7. In addition to fundraising by students, the St. Louis Park City Council provided $25,000 for the project.

Erin Adler


Endangered bee spotted in bluffland

For the second year in a row, a rusty patched bumblebee was discovered in the Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area along the Mississippi River, a sign that the area’s restored savanna grassland is drawing wildlife.

A male of the species, which is on the federally endangered list, was found this month in the 256-acre bluffland area owned by Flint Hill Resources, the company that owns nearby Pine Bend refinery. A male also was found last fall.

“The fact that we got another one this year reaffirms … that they probably are using this site,” said Karen Schik, an ecologist with Friends of the Mississippi River.

The bee, sporting a brown patch bordered in yellow, has been spotted elsewhere in Dakota County. Populations have dropped by nearly 90% in the last 20 years because of pesticides and loss of habitat.


Birchwood Village

Council OKs year halt on dividing property

Birchwood Village, on the south shore of White Bear Lake, has adopted a one-year moratorium on the subdivision of residential property.

The City Council approved the moratorium earlier this month, prompted by the recent sale of property to a developer, according to council discussions.

The current ordinance guiding the subdivision of property is decades old, a city report said. Birchwood Village “does not currently have sufficient controls to properly guide development in the new age of development and stormwater management,” according to council documents.

The lakeshore city has a population of about 900.

Shannon Prather