Week of February 18, 2018

Two months ago, a resident at a council meeting had some questions about Birchwood’s financial health.  That inquiry got me thinking that we should give our residents an update from time to time about the city’s progress.  The following is the “State of the City” report I gave at our last council meeting to bring folks up to date on where we are as a community:


The state of our City is very sound. I’m proud to report that the end of this year, November of 2018, we will be completely out of debt.  I know that when we came onto the City Council, we had over $400,000 in debt-- which is over a year’s budget. Our water fund is sound; our sewer fund is really good; in Capital projects we have over $60,000 – that was a fund that didn’t even exist six years ago.  We use that fund to maintain our roads and keep our infrastructure strong.

We have great community participation. We’ve got a whole lot of committees where people stepped forward who are interested in participating--people who are dedicated. We now have Barton Winter who has come forward and will be our White Bear Lake Conservation District representative, so we’ve filled that position. It’s nice to have people who have an interest in seeing good things happen and being part of the solution.

We have had more law enforcement. We’ve got fine money coming in that never used to come in – we can thank City Attorney Alan Kantrud for that, and the Washington County Sheriff is very diligent in enforcement. These are revenue streams that we’ve never had; it’s silent – nobody knows about them – but I think it’s important to bring it up.

The sewer maintenance we had previously was generating costs every day for manpower.  That cost has now dropped way down with White Bear Township. It has been a success. It’s taken us a little while to get out of the gate on that one but now its been a couple years and its running very smoothly – seamless, actually. White Bear Township is very good to work with. It just shows that we’ve networked very well with various communities out here and solved our issues regionally.

Our environmental stewardship is good. We’re dealing with less salt on the road, thanks to our roads committee that came up with the plan to pre-treat our streets. We have leaf pick up that prevents enormous amounts of phosphorus from going into our lake stopping algae blooms. We have a Lake Links route that’s going though our community that Megan’ s [Malvey] dad has been so instrumental in getting started. That’s going to be a great resource and asset to all of us.

John Manship has come to the table and done so much for us in terms of keeping our infrastructure going. In fact, six years ago there was a hydrant that had a sign on it that said “This hydrant is out of service”. It had been there for about 6 months.  At that time, a survey had been done that showed we had a number of hydrants that weren’t being “exercised” (kept maintained). We had a different contractor at the time. John has got all of our hydrants working. These are little things that people don’t pay attention to but like I said, the state of the City is sound.

We’re in the black again this past year, in terms of our overall year-over costs. And the best part now is Tobin Lay is onboard as our Administrator and we’ve got Paul Carroll who’s stepped up and is now our Treasurer.  We’ve got great staff. So I am really delighted that we are really hitting on all cylinders. We couldn’t do it without everybody here on the Council and I think we just need to step back and say “we’ve done a lot of heavy lifting”.

So that’s the state of the Community. I just want to put it out there because I think we deserve at least the acknowledgement that we’ve done well – thank you all.

- Mary Wingfield, Feb 13, 2018, presented at the Regular City Council meeting.