Friday, October 30, 2009

Help available for communities preparing for tidal wave of aging Boomers
Recently, a presenter from the Central Minnesota Council on Aging warned officials from the City of Royalton of an oncoming "Silver Tsunami"--driven by the fact that every seven seconds there is someone born of the Baby Boomer generation that turns 61 years old. With rapidly aging population bases, cities will be challenged to adapt services and upgrade infrastructure to accommodate the the unique needs of older Americans. Yet, there are few communities adequately prepared for the "Tsunami." To help Minnesota communities better prepare for the dramatic demographic shift, the Minnesota Board on Aging has published a booklet on fostering "Communities for a Lifetime." The booklet includes useful case studies about successful city initiatives in our state, to date, and is compelling reading for municipal officials as well as those simply interested in demographic trends in aging. The League of Minnesota Cities also recommends useful resources on this topic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

November 3 municipal elections
For Minnesota voters wanting to learn the location of their polling place for Tuesday's elections, the State Secretary of State's Office has launched a Polling Place Finder web site. The SOS expects a voter turnout of nearly a half-million next week. Numerous city council, mayoral, and school board seats are at stake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Even in tough economic times, cities need the arts
Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, who is currently the President of the League of Minnesota Cities, is devoting his League presidential initiative for 2009-2010 to a discussion of why arts matter to Minnesota communities. In a recent Minnesota Cities magazine commentary piece, the Mayor explains why.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 Property Tax Report details revenue challenges faced by Minnesota cities
The League of Minnesota Cities has released its annual Property Tax Report, and it shows a weak residential housing market further adding to revenue challenges imposed by state cuts to city aid and credits, and levy limits. According to the report, city tax capacity grew by only 2.3 percent last year--a 71 percent slower growth than between 2007 and 2008. Additionally, it notes that the slowdown in market value growth has become more pronounced in the past year. Look here for additional resources, including a city-by-city breakdown of tax capacity and total market value, a property tax calculator, and background materials that help to explain the complex property tax system.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cities increasingly turning to social media for info sharing
A growing number of Minnesota city officials are employing social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to facilitate communication with residents and others. For example, cities are using the tools to make announcements about upcoming meetings and events, as well as project updates, and to connect followers with recent city-related news. Some cities are using social media as a portal to the city’s official website so followers can access more in-depth information on a topic. In many cases, cities are using social media to support work they already are doing.

For those interested in following, an informal search showed that the following cities maintain official Facebook pages: Blaine, Burnsville, Chanhassen, Eden Prairie, Hibbing, Mankato, Mapleton, Marshall, Minneapolis, New Brighton, Red Wing, St. Paul, and Wadena.

And, these cities use Twitter accounts: Alexandria, Blaine, Delano, Detroit Lakes, Grand Marais, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Mountain Iron, St. Charles, St. Paul, Waseca, Winona, and Wyoming.

For cities considering using social media tools, LMCIT recommends reading, "Social Media and Cities: Questions and Considerations," Developing a Computer Use Policy” and “Electronic Communications Between Council Members,” which provide sample policies that can be used as a group to help prevent city missteps around social media, use of public technology, and some of the unique issues related to elected officials.