|7/16/2020 3:25:00 PM|
Performance, Green Step participation moves forward in North Branch
There’s a program through the state auditor’s office that North Branch recently opt into. Cities can enlist as participants in Performance Measurements, a program that requires annual reports on a minimum of 10 areas of municipal functions.
Involvement in this will garner 14 cents per capita for participating cities. Those enrolled into Minnesota Performance Measurements earned a grand total of $466,000 (in 2019.)
The state first offered the incentive in 2011. The maximum any city or county can achieve in a year is $25,000.
The idea is to designate services or municipal responsibilities local governments want to especially focus on. Citizens see an end-of-the-year summary, usually presented at the same time the annual truth in taxation public hearings are offered. The State Auditor gets a report from the city.
North Branch Finance Director Phillip Starks feels this state auditor program is a useful tool in providing transparency, and targeting needed services; so in early June he recommended the North Branch City Council dip their toes in the program and adopt the 10 minimum measurements.
The council unanimously adopted the 10 suggested measurements early this year. Council member Kathy Blomquist had hedged her ‘yes’ vote saying she would prefer to have actual goals or outcomes attached to each measurement. As approved, they are “meaningless” she said.
Starks explained that he spoke with state auditor staff and was assured this is the process to prepare to sign-up.
North Branch stands to gain only about $1,500 based on population, but Starks said funding is only part of the benefit. He said staff looked over the model for measurements to be included-- and said these 10 present the “most meaningful” items North Branch strives to provide.
The itemized measurements North Branch will focus on and report to its citizens include: operating costs per million gallons of water treatment, number of sewage blockages per 100 connections, timeframe for city snowplowing, lane miles rehabbed each year, fire response time, law enforcement response, crime rate, bond rating (affects financing and debt) and property market valuation data.
North Branch is also well into the Green Step City program.
The Green Step program is administered through the state pollution control agency offices and its purpose is to promote sustainability and build quality of life. All sizes of cities are active in the program. The steps are accomplished at whatever pace the locale is comfortable with.
The program identifies 29 “optimal” practices, but a city will strive to implement about four to eight at a time. Easy starting steps include installing LED lights for outdated regular bulbs in facilities and even streetlights. There’s enhancing available recycling, sustainable buildings, developing options for transportation and community engagement among the gradually intensifying “steps.”