West St. Paul will let the city of Mendota Heights place a memorial to police officer Scott Patrick at the site where he was shot and killed during a traffic stop in West St. Paul in July 2014.
But the memorial at 1010 Dodd Road will be temporary, and West St. Paul City Council members raised some concerns about timing and placement.
The memorial was a last-minute addition to West St. Paul’s council meeting agenda on April 23, and there were no drawings of the proposed memorial in the agenda packet. While all the council members said they supported the memorial concept, several said they needed more information and wanted more time to consider the proposal.
Mayor Jenny Halverson said the city may one day develop the property that will host the memorial, which means it may have to be moved.
Halverson said a temporary memorial seemed to be a disservice to Patrick. “Let’s do this the right way,” she said.
Council Member Dave Napier said it was unfair to put future councils in a position where they may have to vote to move the memorial, and Council Member Dave Vitelli said he needed more information.
The council approved the memorial 4-1, with Napier voting against the proposal and Vitelli abstaining.
The monument stems from a legal settlement with Patrick’s widow, Michelle Patrick, who in 2015 settled a whistleblower lawsuit her husband had filed before his death against Mendota Heights and a past police chief. Patrick had alleged retaliation for reporting two officers he thought stole a picnic bench.
The Patricks’ attorney, Matt Morgan, said the settlement called for Mendota Heights to form a committee to suggest ways to memorialize Patrick, including a possible physical memorial. The settlement did not specify a timeline for constructing a memorial.
West St. Paul City Council Member Ed Iago said the monument is “an accommodation we’re making to a sister city” and that Mendota Heights understands it is temporary.
Mendota Heights Mayor Neil Garlock said he wanted to see the monument in place before the fourth anniversary of Patrick’s death in July.
Michelle Patrick and the committee wanted it in the spot where the shooting occurred, Garlock said. The $10,000 granite memorial will feature a flag and plaque and be paid for by a nonprofit memorial fund.
Garlock said he would rather see a temporary monument put up now than a permanent one erected later. “The point is, it’s long overdue,” he said.
“Scott was a friend of mine,” said Garlock. “I’m just thankful for them allowing us to put this monument in their city.”
City discusses implementing local sales tax
The Burnsville City Council is exploring the implementation of a local option sales tax, a move that officials said could bring in more revenue and reduce the city’s property tax levy.
A local option sales tax is levied by a city or county for a specific purpose and added to Minnesota’s general sales tax rate of 8.875 percent.
In Burnsville, city officials are discussing the sales tax as a way to bring in money they could use to spur redevelopment. The city is already 98 percent developed, which limits the possibility to grow its property tax base. But levying a local option sales tax would require permission via legislation.
According to research by city staff, 35 Minnesota cities and two counties have implemented a local option sales tax, with one-half percent and 1 percent as the most common rates. Other cities have received approval from the Legislature but never enacted the tax. Bloomington is the only metro-area suburb that has received authorization for a local option sales tax that didn’t implement it.
If Burnsville officials decide to move forward, they would have to get approval from residents in the next general election before they could request authorization from the Legislature.
The sales tax would have to be earmarked for a specific project and it would expire when the project is complete.
Police to be outfitted with body cameras
By next January, every Savage police officer will be outfitted with body-worn cameras.
Police Chief Rodney Seurer told City Council members last month that his department has researched the technology for two years. Five officers will be trained to use the cameras as part of a pilot program this fall.
Body-worn cameras would “assist in improving evidence collection, strengthen officer performance and accountability, enhance agency transparency … resolve complaints and officer involved incidents,” Seurer wrote in a memo to City Council.
The 2018 city budget includes $68,818 for the partial implementation of the body camera program. Council members will seek public comment from community members next month.
Meanwhile, local law enforcement is asking residents who own surveillance systems at their home or business to register those cameras with the city. Police say the security cameras are potentially vital to helping solve crimes, but officers don’t always know where private cameras are located. The SafeCam program allows residents to confidentially register security cameras with authorities so they’re able to use footage to assist in the apprehension and prosecution of alleged criminals.
Those interested should register online or contact the city’s crime prevention specialist at 952-882-2604.
Parks and recreation director resigns
Parks and Recreation Director Jamie Polley resigned last week after 10 years with the city.
Under a mutual separation agreement, Polley will receive about 10 weeks of severance pay, said Human Resources Manager Jennifer Gabbard.
Polley, who headed the city’s community center expansion, had been on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act since Jan. 26. The City Council will consider her resignation at its May 15 meeting.