2/20/2014 2:22:00 PM Mayor Robinson updates CF Chamber on "state of the city"
by Ken Haggerty
Mayor Robby Robinson delivered a "State of the City" address to a Cannon Falls Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting crowd on February 13.
He called the state of the city strong as it continues to control costs while maintaining city services.
Robinson touched on some highlights from 2013 including the "opening of a beautiful new library" in March. He called the project a good example of the community coming together for a good cause that can end in success.
The completion of another phase of street, sewer and water updates in the city, this past year on the East Side, was another positive from 2013, said Robinson.
The Mayor called the building and opening in 2013 of the Olmsted Medical Center clinic in Cannon Falls a "great addition to the community."
The completion of one new 30,000 square foot building by Gemini and start of another new building by the company was good news for Cannon Falls, said Robinson.
The new Casey's General Store project was another new commercial project highlighted by Robinson.
The Hwy. 52 and County 24 projects being built in collaboration with MnDOT and Goodhue County on the south end of the city were another sign of progress noted by the Mayor. The projects are to be completed by Fall of 2014. The city is spending $2.4 million on the construction. Robinson said the city is working to see if an agreement can be made to maintain some access to businesses near the north stoplight
Plans by Dakota County and MnDOT for a new bridge and ramps in 2015 at Hwy. 52 and County 86 to the northwest of Cannon Falls are good news for the safety of local residents and for better access to the Cannon Falls industrial park on the north end, said Robinson.
On the south end, the new $30 million Mayo Clinic medical facility that will be opening by Fall of 2014 was highlighted. Combined with the County's new "Southeast Collector" road that will angle from the new Mayo eventually all the way to Hwy. 19 just east of St. Ansgar's, the area has opportunities for considerable growth, he said. He said more than 100 acres of land in the area near the new Mayo site has already been requested for annexation into the city.
Robinson said the city is making good progress toward redevelopment of the current hospital site.
The Cannon Valley Trail continued to grow last year and will likely grow in the near future. Robinson said the city has worked to develop the Trail head area downtown from the city parking lots to, and past, the Winery. Robinson said the Trail will be expanded toward Lake Byllesby soon.
The Winery adding an elevator and upper floor event center was also highlighted by the Mayor as a positive project ongoing in Cannon Falls.
The Economic Development Authority got a tip of the hat from the Mayor for its work, mentioning help it provided in getting a grant for work to improve the streets and drainage by Raw Bistro, located by the old Third Street Bridge.
The Mayor said the city will look to continue to control levy increases as the economy continues to recover. The levy for 2014 is three percent lower, but Robinson said city services have been maintained. Since 2009, the levy has been lower every year and flat one year, he said. This has been while the city took on the east and west side street projects and has a share in the Hwy. 52/Co. 24 project.
Negotiations with city employees allowed for a fair raise for employees, said Robinson, but also allowed the city to cap some contributions to health insurance plans.
Robinson said property values stabilizing will help the city tax capacity as will more new construction and commercial/industrial projects. Decertification of some TIF districts will also help the tax capacity.
The strong reserve of 50 percent maintained by the city helps with a AA- bond rating, said the Mayor. He noted the council did decide to spend $800,000 out of reserves for necessary capital projects.