A 2011 Budget

Tis the season – budget season that is. After a preliminary levy was certified in September and appeared on 2011 property tax notices in November, the City Council was presented with several budget and tax levy scenarios to consider at its Dec. 7 workshop. Most of the options were in response to Council members’ requests and a staff-recommended version was presented as well.

All five of our elected officials were concerned about keeping the City’s portion of property taxes as low as possible in response to the economic climate, while at the same time maintaining Eden Prairie’s high standards for services. They were also mindful of the fact that 12 full-time positions were eliminated in 2009, there were no employee wage increases in 2010 and many other significant reductions have already been made to the overall budget.

After much discussion and careful consideration at the City Council meeting following the Dec. 7 workshop, Council members decided together that they supported keeping the budget flat and that it was important to have a zero-percent increase in the tax levy for 2011. The Council also agreed that a 2-percent wage increase should be included in the 2011 budget, which would be compensated for by an equal amount in services. In order to keep the tax levy flat, the Council decided to use funds from the Budget Stabilization Fund to offset any shortfall that might occur at the end of next year. Given that we’re expecting to end the year by surpassing our 2010 revenue projections and may not need to dip into that fund to balance our budget, I believe the tough decisions made by the Council are reasonable in order to achieve our goals.

I am pleased the Council came to an agreement and voted unanimously to approve the 2011 budget and levy. Budget and service reductions are never easy. But I can tell you that we as members of the City staff are committed more than ever to continuing our spirit of hard work and dedication to ensure the residents and businesses of Eden Prairie receive the best value for the services we provide.

On behalf of the entire City staff, I wish everyone a joyous holiday season and happy new year!

Jay Lotthammer
Interim City Manager

New Employees Learn the Ropes

Meet Matt Bourne and Tina Eide, the City’s newest Parks and Recreation Department employees! Tina works at the Community Center in support services and Matt is the new park maintenance supervisor. Both are learning their new job duties, but they also get to learn about the job duties of their coworkers.

When a new person comes onboard, each Parks and Recreation coordinator and manager provides a presentation on their specific roles and duties. This gives our new employees a better overview of how each position functions within our department and provides them with knowledge they can use for future aspects of their own positions. In this picture, Matt and Tina are learning about the Recreation Division from Laurie Obiazor, the division’s manager.

Our common goal is to provide residents with recreational opportunities in a premier park system. That can mean anything from plowing a trail to coordinating a basketball league. By having an understanding of each area of Eden Prairie’s Parks and Recreation Department, new employees are better able to relate their duties to the ‘big picture.’ There is a lot to learn!

Brenda Uting
Parks and Recreation Administrative Assistant

The Internship of a Lifetime

This past August, I began an internship in city government, under the guidance of (the now former) City Manager Scott Neal. As a recent graduate from Winona State University and an Eden Prairie High School graduate (class of 2006), this was the internship of a lifetime for me.

Now, with my internship about to expire, I have started to reminisce about the awesome experiences I’ve had working for the #1 Best Place to Live in America. I have also realized that I chose the perfect time of year to do this internship, because there’s a lot going on in city government during an election and there’s a tremendous amount of work put forth by City staff during the biennial budget process.

Employees have asked me what I want to do after graduate school, and I tell them I know I want to be a city manager!

My first major step in the right direction was this internship with the City of Eden Prairie. My second step will be obtaining a master’s degree in public administration. As time passes, I will remember how great all of the employees were to me here. All were warm and welcoming and eager to educate me, and they allowed me to participate in their meetings and contribute to their various projects. My only hope is that when I graduate from Iowa State University, as a young gun 24-year old looking for his first job as city manager, that the employees I work with will be as great as they are here in this city.

Thanks for the experience Eden Prairie!

Jeffrey Fletcher
City Manager Intern

A New Interchange

Before: The I-494/Hwy 169 interchange today.

The Highway 169/I-494 interchange project is set to begin any day.  Mn/DOT recently awarded the C.S. McCrossan/Edward Kraemer & Sons Design-Build team this $125 million dollar interchange project.  Once the final contracts for the project are executed, work on the project will begin. 

We will be learning a lot more about the project schedule in the coming weeks, but here is a short summary of what we know today:

  • Depending on the weather and other factors, construction on some of the temporary bypasses that will be needed to facilitate construction may start immediately.  So be prepared to start seeing construction barricades and cones.
  • Throughout the course of the winter, the contractor is likely to start construction on some of the retaining walls and bridges, with full construction of the project ramping up in the early spring.
  • The long awaited removal of the three remaining traffic signals on Highway 169 is expected to occur by the end of the 2011 construction season.
  • Substantial completion of the project is anticipated to occur by mid-November 2012.

For more information on the project, please visit MnDOT’s project web page:  dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/169

This site includes a lot of great information, including the most recent project layout and aerial views of the project, as well as fly-over and drive-through views of the project.

After: A rendering of the new interchange.

This project has been years in the making and we are excited to work with MnDOT and the C.S. McCrossan/Edward Kraemer & Sons MnDOT to bring this project to its successful completion.

Please stay tuned for more information and drive safely!

Randy Newton
Assistant City Engineer – Traffic Engineer

Pipes and Public Health

It’s 9 p.m. The kids are in bed. There are new batteries in the smoke alarms and the dog is asleep at your feet.

You’ve put a lot into making your home safe and secure.

But just how safe are you? Do your kids know what to do in a fire? Are your valuables protected from burglary? Do you know what is in those old cans in the garage?

And how about the things you take for granted…those hidden assets you never see; but are working tirelessly – deep under-ground – 24/7, protecting health, family and home?

  1. The pipes that deliver the water you count on for your morning shower and that very first cup of coffee.
  2. One flush sanitary sewers that whisk away the wastes before causing sickness and disease.
  3. Or the storm system that protect the environment and prevent your home or neighborhood from being washed away.

We are the Eden Prairie Utilities Division, and this is the story of your water and sewer infrastructure.

Tune in and Discover:

  • How your water/sewer and storm systems really work, and why they play an integral role in public health AND in our local economy.
  • Why many water infrastructures–in towns and cities across America–are in big trouble … and what Eden Prairie can learn from them.
  • Hear, first hand, from the people who take care of your water & sewer infrastructure.

All of this and more coming up on the new EP Staff Blog!

Stay Tuned!

Andrew Sullivan
Utility Maintenance Field Operator

New City Staff Blog

Last week city employees said farewell to our Friendly City Manager Scott Neal. Scott’s departure also puts an end to his long-running blog in Eden Prairie.

Scott was a pioneer in this communication medium for government officials at the time of his blog launch in 2003. It was Scott’s foresight and vision – for what we now know as social media – that propelled the City of Eden Prairie into the forefront of online communication.

Over the past few years, in addition to Fire Chief George Esbensen’s blog, we started an e-mail subscription service – CITY NEWS; introduced live and on-demand streaming video – CITY TV; launched blogs for the Police Department and Eden Prairie Liquor; and created a friendly, informative and interactive dialogue with the public with our award-winning Facebook page.

In the spirit of Scott’s vision, city employees have volunteered to share their insights on various topics over the next few months as we search for a new city manager. With the launch of the new staff blog, we’ve also added a comments feature on all CITY BLOGS to encourage even more two-way communication with the public. We hope you find these blogs from City Hall interesting and informative.

Joyce Lorenz
Communications Manager