West St. Paul city council chambers

City Council Preview: August 9, 2021

We provide these West St. Paul City Council previews with your support.

There’s not a lot of action on the agenda for the regular West St. Paul City Council meeting, though the Open Council Work Session (OCWS) will get into the 2022 budget and potentially revamping how OCWS operates.

2022 Budget

The OCWS will get a look at the proposed preliminary budget for 2022. The operating budget is up about 4% with a 4.23% proposed levy increase. That’s the lowest increase in at least six years.

The main drivers of the increase are staff salary and health insurance, with a few new staff positions proposed, including promoting Marketing and Communications Manager Dan Nowicki to assistant city manager.

The preliminary budget for 2023 does include $400,000 of local government assistance from the state that’s not yet allocated. Council will discuss options, which include tackling a project in the plan (ice arena, pool expansion, or skateboard park), increasing funding for streets and/or sidewalks, or reducing the tax levy.

Another budget change includes the proposed fees for 2022. The biggest change is reducing the license for tattoo and body art shops from $1,925 to $400 to be more in line with neighboring cities. The high fee had been intended to dissuade tattoo and body shops, which City Council is no longer interested in doing.

Revamping OCWS

Speaking of OCWS, the Council will also consider proposals to revamp how the OCWS meetings are conducted. The challenge is to encourage a workshop environment where ideas can be informally discussed while still providing full transparency to the public.

Five different options are proposed, which range from sticking with the current format to moving back to the lobby conference room and doing $54,000 worth of renovations to allow for broadcast quality improvements.

Other Items on the Agenda:

  • Rules and ethics: The City Council will finally pass their rules and code of ethics, which should have been done in January but was delayed as the Charter Commission debated a few amendments that impacted those rules.
  • Group homes: The Minnesota state legislature changed the definition of ‘housing with services establishments,’ which rendered parts of city code irrelevant. Those references are all being repealed.
  • Vacating Kruse Street: A leftover right of way on Augustana Lutheran Church property is being vacated.

The public can watch the meeting live on Town Square TV or cable channel 18 starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday (5:30 p.m. for the OCWS meeting).

If you’re not able to attend the meeting in person, you can always use our coloring pages to imagine you’re there.

Keep City Council previews and recaps coming by supporting West St. Paul Reader.

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