By Emily Hedges
Hennepin County is in good financial shape, according to County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who appeared before the St. Boni City Council on May 16 to provide an update on the past year in District 7.
Johnson pointed out that 2012 marks the second year with no general levy tax increase. The overall county budget for this year is $1.6 billion.
"We do have plenty of money in Hennepin County," said Johnson.
Water management is one of the Commissioner’s priorities in the coming year. He shared with the council his hope to see water management in the county restructured. While the plan is not finished, he looks for the 11 watershed districts that currently exist to be consolidated into three or four. He agrees they should keep taxing authority, but under his plan would no longer rely on city money.
St. Boni Mayor Rick Weible agreed that something needed to be done.
Weible pointed out how difficult it can be dealing with multiple watersheds, all with different rules.
"Even the cost of filling out the reports," said Weible. "We don’t have the resources, time or money, and for what end? What’s the real benefit?"
Johnson added that he feels that any body with taxing authority should be elected, which is not currently the case with the watershed. One idea under consideration is to have mayors and city council members populate the watershed board. "This would make it much more accountable," said Johnson, which is something Weible says the city of St. Boni would support. Johnson is up for reelection as Hennepin County District 7 Commissioner this November.
St. Boni parks
Fred Keller of the St. Boni Parks and Planning Commission reported to the council that city parks have "never looked better." This assessment comes after a recent tour of the parks by the commission to create a laundry list of maintenance and improvement items. The city plans to discuss the list with public works to see which items they will address, and which need outside quotes.
In other business: