Scandia council passes 2014 budget and levy

No increase from 2013

This year’s levy of $2,171,074 is the same number as last year’s in Scandia. The council passed the levy and budget at the Dec. 17 council meeting.

The city’s portion of the tax bill for a property in Scandia may even decrease slightly, as valuations have decreased by 9.8 percent since 2013. The median 2014 median taxable market value for homestead properties is $244,700. Only 32 properties have increased valuations, compared to 1,151 showing no increase.

The story is different for properties classified as commercial, industrial or utility: Only four will see no increase. The other 62 have increased valuations.

Scandia receives all revenue from property taxes except for about $21,000 from sand and gravel tax.

The council also approved the five-year Capital Improvements Program for 2014 to 2018.

Subdivision

Rich Lund has an easement from his sister so that he can have a driveway on her property, located north of his house. But he would like to own the 3 acres on which his driveway sits.

Normally this could be accomplished with a simple lot line adjustment. But this is no ordinary lot line. It’s the boundary between the Chisago Lakes and Forest Lake school districts, and between the Comfort Lake/Forest Lake and Carnelian/Marine/St. Croix watershed districts. A single property cannot lie in two taxing districts.

So the council granted a minor subdivision. The planning commission had recommended approval, but also expressed concern that this action could prohibit Lund’s sister from future subdivision. The maximum density is four dwelling units per 40 acres, according to  Scandia ordinance and Metropolitan Council requirements. Even though there are only two houses, this subdivision creates a fourth dwelling unit.

Lund will not be required to pay the park dedication fee unless he builds on this lot in the future.

Rezoning

The council also approved a rezoning to allow Dan and Sue Sandager to separate their commercial and residential property. The house on 6 acres is located next to the business, Abrahamson Nursery on St. Croix Trail.

Subdivision was already accomplished in 1989, when Scandia was a township, but the Sandagers did not record it with Washington County. There was no time limit then to record minor subdivisions.

Since then the city of Scandia has created a rural commercial zone that includes the nursery and the house. The council voted to rezone the parcel containing the house from rural commercial, which does not allow single family use, to general rural.

Sandager will not need to pay the $3,000 park fee – he paid in 1989 when the fee was $75.

The planning commission had recommended the rezoning, and no one spoke at the public hearing.

Veterans Memorial

The council tabled approving a Veterans Memorial at Lilleskogen Park until the Scandia/Marine Lions, who will be funding the project, can discuss site selection. Other possible sites include the Lions Shelter at Hay Lake Park.

Scandia Mayor Randall Simonson had a conducted a survey of residents of both cities, and found 80 percent favored Lilleskogen. Marine Mayor Glen Mills spoke to the council, saying it may be “tougher to sell Lilleskogen to people in Marine.”

Lions President Tom Triplett urged the council to wait.

“We haven’t even raised this with the Scandia/Marine Lions Club,” he said. “The club will not respond well to the council deciding tonight.”

Public works

Because of the new lift, city workers can now do Zamboni repairs, Public Works Director Tim Kieffer reported, and wood chipper rental was negotiated to get a lower rate for the city.

Snowplowing has been tough because of wet, compacted snow, but Simonson and Ness said they received no complaints from residents.

On the county roads that intersect in the center of town, Olinda Trail and Oakhill Road, parked cars interfered with snowplowing. A “gentleman’s agreement” that renters would not park on the county roads during snow removal is no longer working, council members agreed, and the city may need to create snow emergency rules and put up signs.

Other business

The council approved promotional materials for this year’s Vinterfest, scheduled for Feb. 1. This year’s celebration will include a hockey tournament and cross country skiing. Closing a section of 209th Street between the Elim Church hill and the Community Center was also approved, to protect sledders.

To save on administrative costs, quarterly billing will replace monthly billing for users of the Uptown Sewer System, and the rate was increased to $15.28 per 1,000 gallons, a 2 percent increase.

“The good news is they’re not using nearly the volume predicted,” council member Chris Ness said. “The bad news is they’re not bringing in as much money. It’s like they’re being penalized for saving water.”

In a 4-1 vote, the council voted not to donate money to the Washington County Historical Society in 2014.

“I don’t see the need for city to do this, when individuals can contribute themselves,” City Administrator Kristina Handt said. Council member Sally Swanson was in favor of giving the group $500, but her motion received no second.

“I’m for it,” she said. “They take care of Hay Lake; they do events there.”

 

 

 

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