On October 13, I presented my State of the City to the Chamber. Normally the number of miles of paved streets, number of houses, new businesses, etc are the headlines as we look back in the past. This year I started with a photo of my very long hair due to the business closures from the pandemic! Who knew a year ago that my hairstylist would start the conversation?
City Staff kept working very hard for each of you this year, even with a pandemic looming.
•A utility analysis was completed. It showed that our Public Works Department is running very well. They have performed such great work that our sewer rates will be decreasing in 2021.
•Street projects: New roads completed in many developments, street maintenance completed and some gravel roads are now paved.
•NBPD has increased call numbers. They have been very busy. A new officer will be sworn in at a council meeting in the near future.
•The EDA has been working hard on high speed Internet. As a result, Governor Walz recognized our city as a Telecommuter Forward Community. As Mayor, I have been working with Congressional and State representatives to secure funding to support the build-out of this very necessary technology infrastructure to ALL areas in our community.
•Both Kwik Trips opened. IDEA Company’s new headquarters in our Interstate Industrial Park is nearly complete.
•The Municipal Liquor Stores’ staff did a great job keeping doors open and continue to work around the shortages of product in the industry throughout the pandemic.
•The Economic Development and Finance Departments worked on a Revolving Loan Fund and CARES grants to assist local employers. They all work to keep our businesses operating.
•Planning Department completed a complete overhaul of the Animal and Subdivision ordinance. They are working on the Zoning Ordinance, along with many developments and zoning requests, including allowing our NBAPS to hold classes in the mall.
•The EDA worked with CMHP to bring affordable senior housing to North Branch. The request is at the State, stay tuned.
•Finance worked on an updated Capital Improvement Plan, re-financed a bond (to save you all money), worked on the 2021 budget - less than a 2% increase!
•Building Inspections was very busy all over the city with new homes, home projects, and commercial/industrial projects. They are having their best year in last 20 years!
•The EDA has sold more than 11 acres of industrial land and many acres for housing in the Interstate Business Park.
•Recreation worked diligently so that we could host outdoor concerts, fireworks and playgrounds could open.
•The City Council has hired a new attorney.
This past year has been a challenge for all of us, and I am so proud that the city staff and city council took on many challenges and will continue to do so, in order to serve the residents of North Branch. I am looking forward to a very prosperous 2021.
JIM SWENSON is the current mayor of North Branch. He can be reached at 651-226-4220 or firstname.lastname@example.org