Tag Archives: Property Values

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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.

Parks Planning

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.

Light Rail

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.

Community Events

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.

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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.

Our agenda for the evening was very full.  Mayor Adams was absent due to severe illness, and Council member Deshler acted as Mayor Pro tem.  Council members Dahl and Libby were also absent.

Citizen Input Time

The Council has recently put in place a tracking method that ensures timely resolutions of all constituent issues.  We receive updates on all “open” cases, and discuss ways to provide a satisfactory solution.  Our goal is to make sure no one falls through the cracks.  During this Input Time, one resident came to speak about an ongoing issue with the lack of maintenance of a pond located in her neighborhood.  This has been a problem for several years, and the whole neighborhood would like this resolved as soon as possible.  Our city manager agreed to a timeline and a plan that appears satisfactory to the resident.

First Work Session

Representatives from Hennepin County Assessor Department spoke about the process of appealing the estimated market value of a home in Crystal.  Each year, homeowners receive a letter from the County Assessor Department stating the current estimated market value of their home.  If a homeowner disagrees with the estimated value, they can appeal to the County to discuss adjusting the assessment.  Most disputes can be resolved by working directly with the assessor’s office, and some issues are brought before the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization.  The Board meets each year with the specific purpose of ensuring that all local property is correctly assessed, and judge on disputed assessments brought forward by the homeowners.  If the dispute cannot be resolved with the local board, the homeowner can appeal to the County Board, and finally to the Minnesota Tax Court.

The Crystal Board of Appeal and Equalization will meet on April 7, 2015, at 7:00pm. Click here for more information on this meeting.  Click here for more information from Hennepin County on how you can appeal the estimated market value of your home.

Regular Council Meeting

Following the approval of the agenda, we heard the following presentations:

Tech Dump event presented by the Environmental Quality Commission.  Click here for more info.

The 5th Annual “Firefighters Fighting Hunger” Drive presented by Assistant Fire Chief Joel Nelson.  Through the end of March, The West Metro Fire-Rescue District is collecting food and monetary donations to benefit The Food Group.  On Saturday, March 21st from 11:00am-3:00pm, they will be out in many of the local grocery store parking lots collecting donations.  The Crystal City Council will be assisting by bagging groceries at the Cub Foods on Hwy 100 and 36th.  I am very excited for this event!  Click here for more info.

We breezed through the Consent Agenda, heard one resident speak during Open Forum, and moved on to the Regular Agenda with the reading of disbursements over $25,000.

The Council continued by approving contributions of $750 each to NEAR and PRISM food shelves.  NEAR and PRISM food shelves serve hundreds of local families each month, and provide food for school children during the summer.  All monetary donations are matched during the month of March, and I highly encourage our residents to pitch in with this very important service to our community.

The Council considered civil penalties for the illegal sale of tobacco to an underage person by A-1 Liquor.  A-1 Liquor failed an annual compliance check conducted by the Crystal Police Department.  City Code outlines the following civil penalties that the Council may impose against the business owner:

First violation results in a fine of up to $750, and loss of tobacco license for one day.

Second violation within 24 months is a fine of up to $1,500 and a loss of license for up to five days (three days for alcohol)

Third violation within 24 months after the first is a fine of up to $2,000 and a loss of license for up to ten days.

Fourth violation within 36 months after the first is a permanent revocation of license.

The council recently changed the penalties for underage sales of tobacco and alcohol, and this was the first case in about a year.  This Sun Post article explains the history of the revision.

This was the first violation for A-1 Liquor.  The Council received the police report with details on the incident, and the business owner appeared before the council for questioning.  According to the owner, the clerk responsible for failing to properly I.D. the underage customer has dyslexia, and has been sent to receive proper treatment.  The owner was respectful and apologetic, and understood the severity of such an offense.  Following the questioning and a thorough discussion, the council unanimously voted to impose a fine of $750, but forego the license suspension.  I felt that suspending the license on the first offence in this case was too harsh.  The fine, along with the arrest and having to appear before the council, is a punishment that meets the crime.  Much tougher consequences should be reserved for repeat offenders.  I felt that the council treated this matter seriously, and A-1 Liquor fully understood their responsibility in the matter.

Next we considered imposing penalties for a failed alcohol compliance check by Liquor Liquidator.  This was their first alcohol offence, and the penalties are similar.  The owner appeared before the council, and informed us that the business purchased an electronic card reader to ensure that this never happens again.  The council had a more difficult time arriving at a consensus, with Mayor Pro tem Deshler wishing to suspend their liquor license in addition to the $750 fine.  The council finally voted to impose the fine in the full amount, and forego the license suspension, with Julie Deshler voting No.

Both decisions were difficult.  The council had to fairly balance several factors- the health and safety of our community and youth, the needs of small businesses, and imposing proper punishment that will deter repeat offending.  I feel that we were able to strike that balance.

Following this, the Council heard a presentation about Crystal’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program.

We approved a resolution ordering hearing on proposed assessment in Phase 14 North Lions Park Street Reconstruction.

We approved the 2015 Alley Reconstruction Feasibility Study.

We approved expenditure for the new Bassett Creek Playground.  This project is funded mostly through Grant money, and will be a wonderful addition to our community.

We approved several expenditures for the new Public Works facility.  Many of the purchases are coming in below budget, and we are happy to see the savings.

The council was presented with a Cooperative Agreement with Hennepin County on the purchase of the land necessary for CP-BNSF freight connector track.  This article provides some background information.  Hennepin County wants Crystal to cooperate in this process.  We felt that the language in the document needed clarification, and more discussion was necessary before approval.  Our city attorney agreed to work with the County to obtain better verbiage.  The council voted to continue the discussion during our work session on Thursday, March 19th.  The council received the revised document on Thursday, and we voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

The final item on the agenda was approving the second reading of the city code amendment relating to council rules.

EDA

We approved the sale of three residential plots to developers. We were happy to see a new company expand their operations into Crystal.

Second Work Session

The Crystal Police Department presented their annual report.  You can read it here.

City Manger Anne Norris provided an update on unresolved constituent issues.

That’s all for Tuesday, March 17th!  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like clarification, or to discuss any issues.  You can listen to the Work Sessions here, and watch the Regular Council Meeting here.