Edina City Council to approve budget, improvements plan and levy

Two residents spoke about Edina’s 2013 operating budget and one resident spoke about the five-year Capital Improvement Plan during a public hearing on the measures.

The Edina City Council held the public hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 4. The council is scheduled to vote on the property tax levy, final operating budget and the CIP on Dec. 18. Residents can submit to the council written comments on the budget and planned improvements until Dec. 18.

The council began using new two-year budgets in 2012 and therefore the city will be in the second year of the 2012-2013 budget next year. The two-year budgets will allow the city to work on the budget in odd years and the CIP in even years, Assistant Finance Director Eric Roggeman said.

Staff spent a majority of their time in 2012 working on the 2013-2017 CIP, City Manager Scott Neal said before the public hearing.

The council is expected to approve the property tax levy at a 2.5 percent increase, Roggeman said.

When considering all the taxes from the city, county, schools and water district, 64 percent of single-family homes will either have no change or will have a decrease for taxes payable in 2013, according to Roggeman. Thirty-four percent of single-family homes will have an increase between 0.1 and 4.9 percent. Two percent will have an increase of more than that, he said.

For commercial properties, 28 percent will have either a decrease or no change on their taxes, Roggeman said. Fifty-seven percent of properties will have an increase between 0.1 and 4.9 percent and 15 percent of properties will have an increase of 5 percent or more.

Mayor Jim Hovland clarified that the council can’t raise the levy more than 2.5 percent and he believes some of the council members want to decrease it below 2.5 percent.

Public Art Committee Chair Barbara La Valleur requested during the public hearing a $10,000 increase for the committee in the 2013 budget. The committee has 12 sculptures on the Promenade, three at Grandview Square Park and three at 50th and France.

The increase would help the committee increase the stipend for artists from $500 to $1,000, which would allow the city to be competitive and attract high quality artists, she said. She added that some artists aren’t able to exhibit their work in Edina because they have to pay for the installation and removal of their sculptures, she said.

“Public art is the face of an engaged community – a dynamic relationship between art and the public realm is critical to a well-balanced community,” she said.

A resident also spoke during the public hearing about his property value increasing. However, the council clarified that he needs to meet with the Board of Equalization about individual property values.

The city has also outlined in the CIP 94 projects costing a total of $42 million to be completed in 2013 and 2014.

They came up with a new ranking system for which projects in the CIP need to be completed, from one being critical to seven as desirable.

Department supervisors created their own rankings for the department projects, which were then given to the Capital Improvements Program Subcommittee to put into a standard ranking system for the city, Roggeman said.

Most of the city’s spending on capital improvement projects comes from the construction fund. The subcommittee found that there were more requests for funding than funds available.

The city has enough funding for the 2013 and 2014 projects outlined in the five-year plan. However, if the city moves ahead into all of the projects listed in the plan, the city’s construction fund will be completely depleted sometime in 2015.

The forecast for the construction fund if all the projects listed in the CIP were completed estimates it will be $2.2 million in the red in 2016 and $4.5 million in the red in 2017.

“We don’t intend to take this course,” Roggeman said.

City staff plans to reprioritize in 2014 for projects to be completed in 2015 through 2019, Roggeman said.

Edina resident John Crabtree questioned during his public hearing comments whether the city was looking after what it already has and ensuring it has the funds for the maintenance of existing facilities before it builds anything new.

Neal said staff includes the ongoing costs of any project the city takes on.

Assistant City Manager Karen Kurt explained that the projects were prioritized in terms of public safety, economic development and the impact on the community. New amenities were prioritized as “desirable” so maintenance on existing facilities was given a higher priority than new projects.

Councilmember Josh Sprague questioned why the city’s project to improve three intersections on France Avenue isn’t included in the plan. The project would be funded by $1 million in federal funds and up to $3 million from the city’s Tax Increment funds.

Neal responded that they’re trying to figure out how to incorporate a multi-year project into the plan that began before 2013.

Critical improvements

The following are capital improvement projects categorized as critical. The council will vote on the CIP on Dec. 18.

• Store remodel of the 50th Street Edina Liquor  – 2013, $150,000

• France Avenue and Highway 62 reconstruction – 2014, $600,000

• Pedestrian bridge over Highway 62 – 2014, $3 million

• Neighborhood Street Reconstruction Projects – 2013-2017, $21 million

• Water main improvements – 2013-2017, $8.4 million

• Sanitary sewer main improvements – 2013-2017, $4.9 million

• Storm sewer – 2013-2017, $11 million

• Bridge rehabilitation at 78th Street and Gus Young Lane – 2013, $150,000

• Reconstruct Second Street South – 2013, $150,000

• Reconstruct 54th Street between Wooddale and France avenues – 2013-2014, $1.1 million

• 54th Street Bridge – 2013-2014, $1 million

• Two piping wells – 2013, $100,000

• Utley Park bathroom renovation – 2013, $80,000

• Replace heaters at the Aquatic Center – 2013, $40,000

• Main pool boiler at the Aquatic Center – 2013, $47,000

• Make-up water tanks at Braemar Arena – 2013, $35,000

• Provide larger locker rooms at Edinborough Park – 2014, $582,000

• Bridge repairs – 2013-2017, $$570,000

• Rehab two wells – 2013, $320,000

• Water meter replacement project – 2013, $2.1 million

• Storm water lift station rehab – 2014, $200,000.