New plan to guide MV city matters

The Mounds View City Council approved its first-ever strategic plan, which outlines goals for three years and sets up the ability to raise the city’s taxing authority to reach them.

Officials say it will guide their policy decisions from 2020 through 2022, which is the life of the strategic plan.

“Everything has to tie back to that,” said City Administrator Nyle Zikmund. “The biggest thing is that it was a complete, comprehensive, holistic look at all facets of the city, how it comes together and what you want to do with that.”

The broad goals laid out in the strategic plan are similar to those in any city. The document pledges financial stability, infrastructure maintenance, positive environments for city workers and being helpful to local businesses.

On some fronts, like infrastructure, Zikmund said Mounds View is doing well. He said street improvement is near complete and the sanitary sewer is mostly relined.

And there’s work to be done. A multi-year water system project is on the horizon.

“These are things that we’re planning for that have to be done anyways, like our water system,” said Mayor Carol Mueller. “Within the next five years, we’ll be upgrading our water system.”

To meet that and other goals, the city will need financial resources. Some in the form of attempts at cost savings — Zikmund said they plan to divert some multimedia personnel time away from broadcasting lower-level public meetings and toward the development of educational videos for residents’ use of the water system.

Otherwise, the strategic plan opens the door to the potential to raise levies and fees. Target figures include more than doubling the maximum economic development authority levy to $210,000.

Another target in the plan would raise the limit on property tax levies, which is stipulated in the city charter. Currently, the maximum annual tax increase can’t exceed inflation plus 2 percent or 5 percent, whichever is less.

The strategic plan urges that limit to be pushed to 8 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is greater. The plan also suggests a $10,000 public relations campaign to “address the seriousness of the [city] charter levy limitation ...”

 

Goals, and more goals

The city council’s approval of the strategic plan only adopts those measures as goals. It would take council action to enact them. Mueller said that she and her colleagues have mixed feelings about speculation on future levy increases.

“I’m just not sure what that will need to be,” she said. “And it may be that if we can continue to operate efficiently, maybe we won’t have to disturb that for a while.”

Another goal of the city’s is to wean the budget off of local government aid from the state. Zikmund said that 90 percent of Mounds View’s annual allocation goes into the operating budget. To reduce that reliance is to insulate the city from sharp drops in LGA, he said. The aid reductions of the post-recession years were tough on cities.

“If we get back to those days when they cut LGA, that was devastating,” he said. “The goal would be to wean yourself off at the operating side.”

Mounds View’s LGA was cut by as much as half than its expected allocation in 2008, 2010 and 2011. It’s been more stable in the years since, according to state data. The 2019 allocation is certified at $739,446.

Development of the 2020 to 2022 strategic plan took place over the past year or so. Council members each had two-hour sessions with Assistant City Administrator Brian Beeman to identify goals, Mueller said.

Other than that, council members worked up the plan during council retreats, for which there are no minutes readily available, and a closed meeting held on Oct. 29. Notice of the October meeting at the time cited discussion of security concerns as reason to close it to public access.

The council will revisit a strategic plan at the conclusion of this one. The next version may have a longer scope.

“It’s a three-year plan,” Zikmund said. “We’re already talking about expanding it to five years.”

 

–Matt Hudson can be reached at mhudson@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here