St. Boni Council believes zebra mussels aren’t a priority

It’s no secret that members of the St. Boni City Council are not fans of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD). MCWD’s recent call for input on stop-gap measures it plans to implement to control the spread of zebra mussels, an aquatic evasive species, gave members another opportunity to voice their opposition to spending of millions of dollars in what Council Member Shawn Ruotsinoja called “a lost cause in many ways.”

The plan focuses on early detection monitoring for zebra mussels; implementation of volunteer monitoring programs; watercraft operator education and inspection program; boat cleaning stations; and communication efforts, with an estimated cost of $330,000.

“We’ve been led down a road that zebra mussels are a problem. My concern is the millions of dollars spent that haven’t even slowed them down,” said Council Member Joe Arwood. “Are we chasing a ghost we can never catch?”

Mayor Rick Weible added that he would prefer to see efforts funded by non-profits and neighborhood associations, rather than through additional taxes and legislation.

“If you look at the shape our country is in, we need to focus our dollars on public safety, on roads and bridges,” Weible said.

The council asked City Clerk Brenda Fisk to draft a letter to MCWD based on their comments.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is the local unit of government responsible for managing and protecting the water resources of MCWD in parts of Minneapolis and its western suburbs.

Established in 1967 under the Minnesota Watershed District Act, MCWD is charged with integrating water management efforts among city, county, and state agencies and receives funding through local property taxes.

St. Boni to fight pending stormwater regulations
St. Boni will spend $400 to join the League of Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition.

The group’s primary goals are to make significant changes to the Minnesota Pollution Control’s pending MS4 General Permit; address two large-scale total maximum daily loads (South Metro Mississippi River and Minnesota River) for turbidity and total suspended solids, estimated to cost member cites more than $1 billion; and a new federal stormwater rule that will include site-level performance goals and retrofit requirements.

In other business, the council:
• Reminded residents that comments on the proposed 2013 budget are welcome as the city moves towards final adoption of the levy. Property tax value estimates show an average decline across the city of 10.1 percent. However, Weible says the budget could be trimmed even further if that is what residents wish. He cited planned improvements to the community center as an example of an initiative that could be put off or eliminated completely. “We’re representing you. If it’s okay with you for us to invest in the community center, let us know,” he said.
• Adopted a resolution approving plans and specifications for the 2013 Street Improvement Project. The council recognized a letter of dissent received from the property owner at 8409 Kennedy Memorial Drive asking the council to reconsider the project given the high assessment costs and the state of the economy.
• Held a public hearing on property tax assessments for delinquent water, sewer, and miscellaneous bills. Owners had to pay past due charges by Nov. 28 to avoid assessment.
• Denied a property owner request to change water and sewer usages for the September and October bills due to a continuously regenerating water softener.
• Approved the Join Cooperative Agreement and Contact for Fire Service with the City of Minnetrista to extend services through December 2016.
• Authorized advertisement for bids to upgrade the water treatment facility.
• Cancelled the Jan. 2 regular meeting in anticipation of new member Smestad joining the council.
• Asked the planning commission to come up with a set of criteria to guide discussion of a new electronic sign.