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Absentee ballot drop boxes and alley maintenance are the big items on the agenda for the West St. Paul City Council.
Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election had an unprecedented number of absentee ballots—nearly 60% of all ballots cast. West St. Paul had an absentee ballot drop box at city hall available 24/7 and is considering whether to offer one for the 2022 election.
Pros include ease of access and no cost to the city, while cons include potential for tampering or voter confusion. Few if any other cities in Dakota County are offering the drop boxes.
Council will discuss the issue during the Open Council Work Session (OCWS) and if they want drop boxes will approve a measure during the regular council meeting.
West St. Paul spends an inordinate amount of time maintaining alleys and is considering a major upgrade to minimize maintenance. The city has 4.9 miles of alleys compared to 65 miles of streets, yet the city spends 702 person-hours patching alleys and 1,032 person-hours patching streets.
Repairing the 2.8 miles of alleys in poor condition would cost $3 to $4 million over the next five years. However, 90% of the cost of alley repair is assessed to residents on the alleys, so the cost to the city would be much less and they would likely see savings in patching.
Residents could be looking at a $4,000 to $7,000 price tag, with an option to make it a 10-year property tax assessment. City Council will discuss it during the OCWS.
Other Items on the Agenda
- Rezoning: Council will consider rezoning the eastern end of the former golf course for the proposed townhome project. In a procedural move, the Council and Economic Development Authority will also terminate their development agreement for the project and pass a new one in July to reflect the developer switch from Oppidan to M/I Homes.
- Body art: A body art business near Smith and Annapolis is applying for a conditional use permit. They plan to start with body piercing and add tattooing later.
- Snow removal: Final assessment hearing for Robert Street sidewalk snow removal.
- Pay raise: Council will vote on whether or not to give themselves a raise. City Charter requires salaries to be reviewed in even years. The Charter Commission unanimously recommended a 3% raise, in line with the increase for city staff. The raise would increase the mayor’s salary to $10,174 and Council members to $8,165 starting in 2023. Council has to approve the raise unanimously. A public hearing will come at the second reading next month.
The public can watch the meeting live on Town Square TV or cable TV starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday (5:45 p.m. for the OCWS meeting).
Learn more about how city council works with our Guide to West St. Paul City Council.
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