COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: June 22th, 2020
Meetings and Announcements:
· The next City Council meeting will be held next Monday, June 22nd. Here are the updates from various departments below. Mayor Abrams will be leading a discussion on how to engage our residents and partners on the recreation and Nature Center programming.
Updates from Staff and Council:
Legislative Special Session
The Minnesota Legislature is in Special Session tackling issues of COVID-19 spending, Public Safety Reform, and Bonding Bill. The session is scheduled to end today (Friday) with or without an agreement. The Corona Virus Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides relief to state and local governments as was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. See news stories here:
Sales Tax Exemption – Fire Station
The city’s proposal for a sales tax exemption on construction materials for the new fire station has not been approved. There was hope that a Tax Bill would be finished by today; but it may not happen. The City of Maplewood will pursue the exemption at future Special Sessions (if called by the Governor) or in the 2021 Legislative Session.
Front Counter Call Volume
Call volumes for city services and DMV continue to increase. We’ve seen a nearly 400% increase in call volume since April. The demand for services continues and the online appointments for Driver’s Licenses are now booked full through July 22nd.
Flags at Half-staff
Governor Tim Walz has directed all flags at state and federal buildings in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, June 19, 2020. He has directed flags to fly at half-staff on the 19th of every month through 2020 to remember, mourn, and honor lives lost due to COVID-19.
“Thousands of Minnesotans have lost dear friends and close family members in the fight against COVID-19,” said Governor Walz. “Each life taken has been a heartbreaking tragedy for our state. In these challenging times, we must work together to slow the spread of this pandemic.”
Individuals, businesses, and other organizations are also encouraged to join in lowering their flags to honor Minnesotans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and their families.
Rental Licensing Update
Community Development continues to move forward with implementing the rental licensing program. The rental application, inspection checklist, background check form and initial letter to property owners have all been drafted. Staff is currently in the process of updating the city’s website with the latest rental licensing information, forms, and resources. The initial letter to multi-family apartment owners will be mailed out July 6th, and grant property owners approximately 30 days to submit their rental application, payment, and required paperwork. The deadline for submittal will be August 3rd.
Due to precautions related to COVID-19, the city will initially perform inspections of exterior, common areas, and unoccupied units to protect everyone’s health and safety. Occupied unit inspections will take place once it has been determined it is appropriate and safe to do so for both city staff and tenants. Because of the potential financial hardship some property owners may be facing due to COVID 19, staff has implemented a policy to allow payment plans if necessary. In addition, rental license fees may be assessed to properties due to non-payment. City staff remains resilient and flexible throughout the implementation process and will continue to strive to create a program that meets the goals the council has identified and ensures the health and safety of the community.
PARK AND RECREATION
National Get Outdoors Day Treasure Hunt
Last Saturday was a perfect day for our National Get Outdoors Day Treasure Hunt! The “Golden Frisbee” could have been hidden in any of Maplewood’s Parks and Open Spaces. The first set of clues were posted at 8am and it turned out that a second set of clues was not needed. Congrats to the Schwartz family(Kyle, Christy, Cedar, and Micah Schwartz) on your awesome treasure hunting skills! The Golden Frisbee was hidden in Gladstone Savanna by the well site behind one of the new interpretive signs.
This is the news for this week. I hope you enjoy the weekend and Happy Father’s day to the Father’s reading this email. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Melinda