ST. PAUL NOTES | Curbside composting tops concerns at budget community meeting


Curbside composting and recycling topped the list of concerns at the second of Mayor Chris Coleman’s four community meetings to talk about St. Paul’s budget. Several people raised questions about whether curbside composting will be available, or expressed their support for expanded recycling and composting.

In response, Coleman said that the Wilder Foundation study on curbside composting and recycling is nearly complete, with results expected within a couple of weeks. “Taking more stuff out of the waste stream has got to be the goal, whether that’s compostable things or a shirt or anything else,” Coleman said, adding that people are interested in recycling additional types of plastics and in single-sort recycling.

Coleman and council members Russ Stark (4th Ward) and Chris Tolbert (3rd Ward) spoke and took questions from about two dozen people at the meeting at Kopplin’s Coffee on Marshall Avenue at 8 a.m. on July 17. The budget will be presented to the city council in August. Also in attendance was mayoral candidate Tim Holden, who asked six questions in a row before the mayor said that it was time to go back to other community questions.

Overall, the mayor and city council members agreed, this should be a less dramatic budget year, with the restoration of $10 million in Local Government Assistance from the state making it possible to hold the line on property taxes. “Boring in budgeting is really good,” said Coleman, “and we’re hoping for boring this year.”

Holden and another attendee raised questions about the recent state decision to revoke a delegation agreement and take back the authority to conduct health inspections in St. Paul. Coleman insisted that the city was doing a good job in meeting the concerns raised by the state a year ago, and said he was not happy with the decision, which has already resulted in lay-offs of 15 inspectors. He said part of the problem was that more and more regulations were imposed over the past ten years, with fewer resources available to meet the demands.

Other questions and comments included:

District councils — one person wants to abolish them, another said they are great.

Property taxes — “Higher than my mortgage,” said one attendee. Coleman said the city’s property taxes are in the mid-range of nearby cities, and a handout said the median home property tax bill is $1,797.22 per year.

Climate change — Metropolitan concerns/responses range from capacity of storm sewers to handle torrential rains to the eight-years-ago construction of refrigerated ice rinks for youth hockey because of changing temperatures.

West Midway Industrial Park

Demographic change — and the need to keep our parks and libraries strong for young families.

West Midway Industrial Park — Drew Ross raised a question about what the city is doing to promote and shape development. Russ Stark responded that this is the “biggest contiguous industrial area in the city” and that the West Midway task force will submit recommendations after its final meeting next Monday. One key concern: the need for job-intensive industry, not just warehousing and trucking, which do not create many jobs.

The perennial question about making garbage hauling more rational and decreasing multiple, noisy truck traffic in alleys garnered a quick acknowledgement that this is a “third rail” question, but no real prospect of change.

The remaining two meetings:

Saturday, July 27, 12-1 p.m.: Rice Street Library community room, 1011 Rice Street

Who: Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, City Councilmember Amy Brendmoen, City Councilmember Nathaniel Khaliq, Director of Finance, Todd Hurley

Monday, July 29, 4-5 p.m.: Byerly’s community room, 1959 Suburban Avenue

Who: Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, City Council President Kathy Lantry, Director of Finance, Todd Hurley

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