Minnesota Cities Magazine

Bits & Briefs

NLC: Recovery Continues, Cities Wary of What’s to Come
The latest City Fiscal Conditions report from the National League of Cities points to “cautious optimism” among city officials in 2013. The report is the result of an annual survey of city finance officers. Among the highlights, the number of city finance officers reporting they are better able to meet the financial needs of their cities is the highest it has been since 2000. The report also indicates that cities are beginning to rebuild their reserve funds. It’s not all good news, however. Stressors such as infrastructure costs, pensions, and health care continue, and property tax revenue actually declined. Read the report at http://bit.ly/17hR4Ht.

IT’S HERE: The Newly Updated Handbook for Minnesota Cities
Solar Gardens�Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) has released
an introductory guide to community solar gardens,
and a new resource page to dig deeper. Community
solar gardens allow subscribers to invest in a communal solar panel array and then benefit from their share of solar power produced. By becoming a subscriber, interested
households, businesses, and organizations can benefit
from solar energy even without direct access to sunlight or enough space to install their own panel.
Access the guide at http://bit.ly/17Y9ZaB. Govern like a champ when you use the League of Minnesota Cities’ newly updated Handbook for Minnesota Cities. It focuses on laws affecting cities, and it’s now current through the 2013 legislative session.

The handbook is available 24/7 online for free. You may also purchase the printed version. The entire printed handbook in a recyclable binder is available for $80. Or just buy the contents—without the binder—for $60. (If you lift this tome, you will gain some muscle too.) Look for an order form at www.lmc.org/handbookorder.

The handbook’s side-by-side text and reference format provides the law or other authority for the text. In the online version, these references are interactive and take you right to the source information with a click. Access the online handbook at www.lmc.org/handbook.

Chaska Project Saves Energy and Money
In 2009, the City of Chaska took advantage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program as a way to make improvements in its public buildings without costing the city money. Public Works Superintendent Tim Wiebe secured a $100,000 grant, which the city used to make much needed improvements to City Hall. The city installed a computerized energy management system that would allow building managers to program and adjust the comfort settings for different spaces. Additionally, it updated the building’s boilers and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. As a result, Chaska has seen a 15 percent reduction in electricity usage and a 50 percent reduction in natural gas usage per year, resulting in $11,631 saved on energy costs in 2012 compared to 2010. Learn more at http://bit.ly/188r2KL.

E-Book Price Gouging?
Local libraries may be finding it more difficult to provide e-books to their customers, according to the Urban Libraries Council, due to complex and oftentimes more expensive licensing rules being set by some major publishers. The Urban Libraries Council is providing information to local governments about the issue, and how higher costs could make it more difficult for libraries to provide equal access to materials. Learn more at http://bit.ly/17W2s1U.

Roseville’s Red-Hot Fire Station Consolidation
The new Roseville Fire Station at night with landscape lights on The City of Roseville recently opened a new fire station, consolidating the city’s three fire stations into one central location. The new building incorporates extensive training facilities, important safety features such as drive-through bays, as well as privacy and separate sleeping quarters for male and female staff. Sustainable features of construction include geothermal heating, an emphasis on natural and LED lighting, and a white membrane roof. The new 35,000-squarefoot building sits on the site of the city’s original fire station, built in 1930. That station had become too costly to repair. The city’s second fire station will become a city storage facility. The third station site will be cleared and redeveloped.

Database Training for MN Law Enforcement
A computer mouse rests next to a pair of handcuffs While technology has made law enforcement jobs more efficient and less time-consuming, there are also more questions about responsibilities and policies associated with its use. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) is now offering a free web-based course addressing the “Ethical Use of Computers and Databases” through its online training program, Police Accredited TRaining OnLine (PATROL). This course is approved for one POST credit and will provide officers with the information necessary for properly using computers and law enforcement databases in full compliance with state and federal laws, and with department policies. Registration is open to all Minnesota law enforcement (both PATROL members and nonmembers). Learn more and register at www.lmc.org/ethicaluse13.

The Most Secure Cities in America
Computer graphic for lock/unlock Several Minnesota cities made the list of “Most Secure” cities in the U.S., according to rankings by Farmers Insurance and Sperling’s BestPlaces (www.bestplaces.net). St. Cloud ranked fourth and Rochester ranked 13th among mid-sized cities (populations of 150,000-500,000), while the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area was ranked 14th among large metro areas. Rankings took into consideration factors including employment, crime rates, property values, extreme weather/natural disasters, life expectancy, and air quality. See the full list at http://prn.to/1beNq3w.

LMC Training & Events

Newly Elected Officials:
2014 Leadership Conference

Jan. 31-Feb. 1–Brooklyn Center

Experienced Officials:
2014 Leadership Conference

Jan. 31-Feb. 1–Brooklyn Center

2014 Joint Legislative Conference
for Cities, Counties, Schools & Townships

Feb. 27–St. Paul

2014 Safety & Loss Control Workshops

  • March 25–Bemidji
  • March 26–Fergus Falls
  • April 2–Springfield
  • April 3–Willmar
  • April 9–Duluth
  • April 16–Brooklyn Park
  • April 17–Rochester
  • April 22–St. Cloud
  • April 24–St. Paul

Learn more about these and other events

Read the January-February 2014 issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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