Happy Holidays everyone! It's a great time of the year, especially now that the election season is over. We are eager to get to work with the newly elected council members. Click here to see the local results. While the post election transition can be a challenge, we are committed to keeping a sharp focus on keeping Crystal strong, vibrant, and inclusive. Here are some of the issues we've been working on:
2017 Proposed Budget
Click here for the 2017 Budget Presentation, and here for a more detailed layout. A comprehensive presentation will take place during the December 6th Truth in Taxation meeting. The meeting will be at 7:00 pm at City Hall.
Due to the complicated tax distribution formula, your property taxes may or may not go up this year. In many cases, your bill could actually be less! Generally, if your property value has increased, the amount of taxes you pay also increases, although that is not always the case. The residents in Section 2 will most likely see an increase due to the rapidly rising property values. During the housing market crash, this area devalued the most, and in recent years has recovered the most value. This is very good news, but it causes the homeowners to shoulder more of the tax burden. Despite the proposed increase in the levy, Crystal has the lowest per capita tax load among the surrounding cities. We have also cut taxes in other areas by working to reduce Crystal's debt, ending special assessments, and avoiding franchise fees. I am, however, aware of the fact that we must curb the upward trajectory of the tax levy itself. This is a priority, and we must plan now. The council will meet to discuss long-term cost-containment before the end of the year.
The Truth in Taxation hearing is on Tuesday, December 6th, 7:00 pm, at City Hall. Please contact me in advance with any concerns, questions, or suggestions. I will post the presentation here once it is up on the city's website.
Our parks are the backbone of what makes our community safe and strong. We need to have a plan in order to provide a thriving, exciting, and pleasant parks environment, while keeping costs down. The Council has decided to create a master plan for all our parks, and a separate plan for Becker Park. Becker Park is unique due to the proximity of the planned LRT station, and needs an update to make it more usable and safe. Community engagement is essential for this to succeed, and we will invite public input and participation during this process. The final master plan will empower us with a strategic method to approach all future park needs. We will have a repair and replacement schedule for infrastructure, be able to pinpoint areas for improvement, expansion, or replacement, and identify grant opportunities for new amenities. Having this plan will also enable our parks staff and commission volunteers to focus on providing quality service and creative recreation opportunities for our community! For more detailed information click here, (pages 45-104).
Phase 15 and 16 Street Reconstruction
Phase 15 reconstruction of the Twin Oaks neighborhood is finished, with only minor details left to complete. Rain gardens will be installed in the Spring of 2017, along with tree replacement, paving of the final layer of blacktop, and other final adjustments. See this newsletter for more information.
Phase 16 is in the early planning stages. The Council approved a resolution directing city staff to advertise for construction bids in the beginning of 2017. See this memo with the latest information. The next neighborhood meeting will take place mid-January, and will gather input on the proposed construction plans.
Freight Rail Quiet Zones
If all goes according to plan, the Quiet Zones on Douglas Drive and Broadway Ave will be in effect Fall of 2017! Residents overwhelmingly support this project, and I'm incredibly pleased to see it come together. Visit this page for more details.
We recently had a public open house to discuss station design. LRT staff presented us with a potential design for the station, and explained its various elements. All LRT stations are formulaic, but certain variations are allowed to reflect the surrounding community. The proposed composition for Bass Lake Road takes into account Becker Park and the Crystal Airport, with the roof of the station appearing to be a green airplane wing. At this point, these design elements are only ideas, and require input from the residents and city council. In addition, we are discussing the location of the Traction Power Sub-Station (TPSS). The TPSS is basically a very large box that makes the train run. Visual screening for residents on Elmhurst and Hampshire Aves is also under consideration. For more detailed information see this council packet (page 124), and this work session packet (page 36-100). You can listen to our discussion here (starts appx. 43 minutes in), and here (starts appx. 110 minutes in).
In Other News
Council Member Jeff Kolb keeps a regular blog, and has recently covered issues such as what residents can do regarding cars speeding on neighborhood streets, and the future of Crystal airport. Read his entires here.
Check out our Parks and Rec brochure! Their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages are all active, and provide regular information on what's happening.
Winterfest is coming up on Saturday, December 3rd.
The Light of Crystal recently adorned the Community Center trees with Holiday lights! Thanks to them, residents can take joy in a beautiful display of blue sparkling lights on Douglas Drive. We are so grateful! Take a look at this cool video. The Light of Crystal hosts Half Way Happy Hour every month, please join their Facebook page to learn when and where.
That's all for now! Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. I am always happy to hear from you.