In just under 10-minutes, Long Lake Mayor Charlie Miner looked back at the year 2020 and looked ahead to 2021 in his annual State of the City Address.
Miner started the address by talking about how COVID-19 pandemic affected the city and its staff,
“What a year 2020 was I would like to thank all the city hall staff for all the hard work they put in to combating COVID-19 in our city,” Miner said. “Fire chief James Van Eyll, in particular, has done a great job keeping the city up to speed with the latest COVID-19 guidelines.”
He continued on discussing how the council meetings have changed in 2020 and encouraged Long Lake residents to stay informed.
“I speak for the entire city council when I say we want our residents and business representatives to be informed about what is going on in our city and to give us feedback to help guide our decision making,” he said. “Every council meeting includes an open correspondent section during which the public may address the city council. The Council encourages your participation and if you are interested in doing so please contact city hall staff.”
After that Miner touched on a few of the big items Long Lake has on its agenda for the 2021 year including a Pavement Management Plan (PMP) and franchis fees, development within the city, and potential changes to the fire department.
The council approved the PMP and franchise fees in 2020 with it starting be implemented in 2021. He said the last time Long Lake had a PMP was in 2016.
The city has identified eight streets that are in poor condition with the first project starting on Grand Ave. starting in 2022.
“These funds will only be used towards our PMP and I encourage you to view the information in the PMP and franchise fees tab on our website to learn more,” Miner said. “Even though the PMP and funding for it won’t solve all of our street repair and replacement needs it’s a good start.”
Miner followed by discussing the $175,000 sewer deficit the city is facing and how they are planning on addressing that issue with a new rate structure for water and sewer services.
“Council and city staff worked hard to try to ensure the rate structure is as fair as possible,” Miner said. “No rate structure will ever be perfect though and this rate change will lead to a rate increase for many residents but we need to reduce and ideally eliminate the deficit to our sewer fund. The deficit is outside of our control and is related to significant increase in fees we are charged for sewage treatment by the metropolitan council.”
He then highlighted a new 62-unit development coming to the city and how the city is taking on development within the city.
“The Planning commission and city council are trying to be as thoughtful as possible as as we are deciding what the right fit is for our city when it comes to growth,” Miner said. “We know that Long Lake residents overwhelming want to maintain the small town character we all enjoy about Long Lake. Development can be good for our city as it brings economic prosperity to our businesses and restraurant community as well as needed increased tax revenues to help us fund infrastructe and other improvements. As city leaders we are weighing all those factors while also working to maintain the character of our city.“
He wrapped up the address by talking about the fire department and the changes that might be coming to it in the future.
Miner said the City of Orono has notified them that Orono plans on passing a resolution that would terminate the co-ownership of Fire Station 1 on Dec. 31, 2025 and that Orono is looking into starting its own Fire Department.
“Its not yet clear which city if any will operate Fire Station 1 after 2025 but I wanted to be as transparent as possible and let our residents know that this is on the horizon,” Miner said. “Besides discussions with Orono, Long Lake is also meeting on a regular basis with the state fire marshals office and other area city’s discussing the future of fire protection services in our area and that’s unrelated to Orono’s endeavor. It’s possible we will form a partnership with other area citys. The state fire marshals office has stated that there are too many separately operated fire deptartments in Minnesota and there should be more cconsolidation to better utilize personnel and resources. Stay tuned for more information on this important topic.”