2020 Budget Responses to Public Questions
During the 2020-2021 budget process, questions in the following topic areas were raised by commissioners or members of the public. Please see questions and responses below.
The 2019 Property Tax and Budget hearing ("Truth in Taxation") was held on Nov. 25, 2019. See materials and video from the hearing.
The salary for county commissioners will be $97,102 effective January 1, 2020.
The board chair salary will be $100,138.
Ramsey County employees received a general wage increase of 2.5% in 2019. It is the intent of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners that future salary increases for the Board of Commissioners be set at a rate that matches the general increase in wages given to employees in the previous year. An increase of 2.5% for the Board of Commissioners will result in a salary increase equivalent to the general wage increase given to employees in the calendar year 2019.
What other parks and recreation opportunities are available in this area (south Maplewood)?
Battle Creek Regional Park, located just down the road from The Ponds at Battle Creek site, is a 750-acre park managed by Ramsey County with several miles of summer and winter trails for walking, biking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing; an off-leash dog area; play areas; and acres of open space. The City of Maplewood also maintains several neighborhood parks that feature open space, hard court surfaces and trails.
Ramsey County will continue operations at the four other golf courses in our recreation system:
- Goodrich Golf Course located in Maplewood.
- Keller Golf Course located in Maplewood.
- Manitou Ridge located in White Bear Lake.
- Island Lake located in Shoreview.
The Ramsey County parks system also offers opportunities for several types of activities for all seasons – including skiing, orienteering, archery and more. Free and fee-based programs for all ages are held at Ramsey County park facilities throughout the year.
More information about recreation programs offered by the City of Maplewood are available on the city’s website.
How were residents provided an opportunity to weigh in on the decision to close course? What opportunities to comment remain?
The decision to close The Ponds at Battle Creek was announced as part of the County Manager’s 2020-2021 proposed budget on Aug. 6. Residents have been able to contact their commissioner to share feedback on this and all elements of the proposed budget since that time. Residents were able to submit feedback formally to the full board during two public hearings held Aug. 29 and Nov. 25.
In 2018, the county commissioned a study to evaluate the Ramsey County golf system. As part of the golf study, golf courses users and residents were invited to share feedback on the county’s golf system. Many of the study’s recommendations – including $6.1 million of capital investments – will be implemented in the 2020-2021 budget cycle.
Residents may continue to contact their commissioner with feedback in advance of the Dec. 17 vote on the budget and beyond.
Where can I see the financial information for The Ponds at Battle Creek?
The Ponds at Battle Creek hasn’t proven profitable and has lost money operationally seven out of the past 10 seasons. In 2015, the county board forgave $5.7 million of debt for The Ponds at Battle Creek enterprise fund since the facility was unable to generate enough revenue to cover its debt payments. This includes the original investment, accrued interests and advances to the enterprise fund from other county funds.
How does the decision to close Ponds at Battle Creek match up with the Residents First initiative?
The proposed closure of The Ponds at Battle Creek and broader golf portfolio realignment is part of the county’s 21st Century Parks System initiative. The goal of this multi-year, community-centered initiative is to make sure that our recreation system meets the needs of all county residents and user groups while adapting to changing needs in our local community.
During the 2020-2021 budget cycle and beyond, our Parks & Recreation department will engage in authentic and constructive community dialogue to make sure our facilities are reflective of the community’s desires and advance racial and health equity in Ramsey County.
How will the environmental restoration work at the course be impacted by the closure?
Of the 88 acres that make up the site, 54 acres are wetlands and are considered undevelopable. These wetlands will be preserved. Additional environmental restoration work at the site will be determined as the City of Maplewood and Ramsey County evaluate future uses for the site.
Additional information about the proposed golf portfolio realignment may be found at the following links:
What would be the impact of eliminating library fines on adult materials?
Budget: Eliminating library fines on adult materials would reduce revenue by approximately $192,000 annually.
Staffing: Eliminating library fines on adult materials would have a nominal impact on staff time. Patrons primarily pay fines online and at self-checkout machines. Each circulation staff member spends less than one minute per hour on fines transactions.
Blocked accounts: Accounts are blocked when a patron owes more than $10 in charges — whether from late fines or from fees for lost or damaged items. Eliminating late fines on adult library materials could reduce the number of blocked accounts in the future. As a stand-alone policy change, it will not remove current blocks or prevent future blocked accounts.
However, if we also did a one-time waive of current account charges for all adults, we would unblock 28,000 accounts of adults residing in the seven-county metro area. Note that a one-time waive does not eliminate the possibility that a patron account will be blocked in the future due to lost or damaged item fees.
Can adults extend their loan time?
Yes. Patrons may renew most Ramsey County Library materials up to two times. Exceptions include requested materials and items that have a non-renewable status.
Summary of the $3.7 million RCL-Maplewood capital project?
This project is a renovation of the current Ramsey County Library in Maplewood, which was built in 2007 at 3025 Southlawn Drive. The project is an interior renovation that uses the existing building footprint.
Through years of use and patron feedback, we have learned that the open plan design fails to meet the diverse needs of today's library users. Noise travels throughout the building and service points are hidden. Program and study spaces are inadequate and furnishings are worn.
This renovation project adds sound-absorbing materials and walls; more accessible service points; and additional, smaller study rooms. The former cafe is converted to accommodate more programs and services. Furnishings throughout the building are replaced. A tentative schedule is to produce a schematic design in 2020 and complete the project in 2021.