• 06Mar

    This was sent out as the “final” revised Stantec report. The Stantec report articulates the significant issues in the Olmsted County Planning Department (note these are funding, staffing issues; not problems with existing staff). It has been half a year with no action.

    The initial report was bleak, spot on, and a call to action. Here is where you can find that initial report.

    Initial Report (edit: hopefully fixed the link)

    I have not reviewed what was changed, but would be very interested in a member of the public summarizing the changes for me.

    Well, well, well, it would appear significant changes were made and no one seems to know who made these changes. It certainly was not done by any public body in any public meeting. Thank you to the person OR people that provided this analysis:




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  • 20Sep

    I don’t just speak about working with other levels of government, but I try to actually do it. My friend & school board member Julie Workman and I host a community coffee twice a month with County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden. As such, we get to keep in touch and bounce ideas off of each other. I also sit down with Superintendent Michael Munoz a few times a year.

    Two themes keep coming up. Middle & High School kids are starting school at a time that a mountain of data indicates is too early to achieve best results. They have to do this because of limitations in the school transportation system. Conversely the city of Rochester has massive unused capacity at certain times, particularly after the morning rush.

    After several meetings with school and city staff we agreed to jointly study using city transportation resources for middle & high school students. The study if approved by both bodies will cost $42k to be shared equally. A feasibility report would be back to us by the end of 1Q 2017 allowing an option to start the program for the 2017-2018 school year.

    I’m sure you have a ton of questions, and so do I. My ideal scenario would be:

    • serving most, but not all school 6-12 needs with city buses.
    • reducing the total transportation costs for the city and/or school system.
    • adjusting routes to improve effectiveness and coverage.
    • allowing school IDs to function as bus passes, available any time.
    • meeting the needs of students with after school activities.
    • ensuring the safety of all.

    I think it would be foolish to not research the option. Mr. Munoz has seen this work in a previous position, there is no reason why it can’t here.

    Interestingly this question actually came up in a recent candidate forum. We both agreed this was something good to look at, however we were differentiated because I do not want elementary school kids included in the program, at least for now. I am comfortable with middle school and up.

    Scope of work for addition transit study

    Study Proposal

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  • 02Dec

    In general property taxes in Rochester are going up at about an inflationary rate.  However some are substantially higher. Typically this is because their value went up. The city does not set valuations, that comes from the county. Here is an explanation of why this happens.

    From: Krupski Mark [mailto:krupski.mark@CO.OLMSTED.MN.US]
    Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2014 9:09 AM
    To: Neumann, Gary
    Cc: Kvenvold, Steve; Spaeth, Terry; Hackman Julie; Paulson Tami; Kraft Ryan; Devlin Richard; Krenik Belinda; ‘rmiller@rochestermnchamber.com
    Subject: RE: Commercial Valuation Increases

    Good Morning Gary,

    Please find attached a copy of the City of Rochester 2014 Assessment Commercial Sales Ratio  study stratified by property type: Fast Food, Hotel, Strip Retail, Office, etc.

    Based upon the review of what types of commercial property were selling, adjustments were made to those property types to better reflect the market. State law mandates that all property is to be assessed at 100% of market value. The Sales Ratio study is relied on to assist in making those market value determinations.

    Reviewing the study, some of the larger increases were applied to strip retail and office condos. Office condos were significantly reduced during the recession and have since made a recovery although not quite as high as they once were prior to 2008.

    Strip retail properties also improved based upon the sales study.

    The overall commercial segment of the real estate market in Rochester had been flat since about 2008. The last assessment sales study period (October 1, 2012 thru September 30, 2013) demonstrated the first signs of appreciation in some commercial property types.

    The core of downtown Rochester also saw increases to land values based upon recent sales of commercial property that are slated for demolition.

    Assessors are typically considered ‘historians’ responding to a past market, however I do anticipate that the commercial real estate market will continue to grow based upon buyer enthusiasm around DMC, low interest rates and pent up demand due to a market that had been stagnant from 2008 thru 2012.

    Increases in budgets for the City, County, State General Tax and School District further increased the impact to those commercial properties that increased in taxable market value.

    I believe the City Bio-business Building would have been impacted by the adjustments made to both Office properties and perhaps land values in the downtown core.

    For further explanation on that property please send me the parcel id and I will look into it further.

    I hope this helps explain the increases in property taxes you mentioned in your email.

    If you have any further questions please let me know.

    Mark Krupski, CAE

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  • 23Jul

    I was going to send this as a letter to local leaders, but am holding off until after today’s meeting and will perhaps modify this based on the discussion.  I believe we need to do all of these in some form or fashion, not pick and choose based on what benefits a certain group.

    To:       Local elected officials serving the Rochester area.

    From:  Michael Wojcik

    Re:       Affordable Housing Challenges

    Date:   July 18, 2014


    Our community is faced with an enormous challenge of creating 22,000 housing units including thousands of affordable housing units over the next 15 years.  If we fail to deliver the needed housing, particularly at the more affordable levels, our basic industries will starve from a lack of employees.  The sheer number of units required is astonishing and cannot be achieved with business as usual.  Affordable housing has always been an interest of mine and I thought I would share some ideas to deliver this almost unimaginable need. Read more…

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  • 03Jun

    Not my best video quality, and that is saying something… The video cut out at the end, but I really left this meeting with a sense of accomplishment and feeling we did something good for the community.

    • Council says “no” to bypassing HPC on preservation, directs HPC to give recommendations and conditions for any move.
    • Council approves 90 unit Kutzky apartment including 18 affordable housing units.
    • Council approves homeless supportive housing for kids and families at Gage East.
    • Council directs staff to force Holiday Inn Express to put up barricades to protect public, force them into compliance.

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  • 02May

    2012 Study on youth and family homelessness in Rochester – What did we learn?


    • In 2011, there were 170 families with 304 children who were sheltered in Rochester due to domestic violence, homelessness or both.
    • For the 2010-2011 school year, there were 314 children who met the definition of homeless in Olmsted County schools. In addition to the 109 who were sheltered, there were 182 who were doubled up with other friends/family and 23 staying in a hotel/motel.
    • The Community Reinforcement and Family Transitions Project (CRAFT) estimates that there are 20 young women/year who cannot get their very young children (age newborn – 2) back from foster care because they can’t find or afford housing.
    • In recent months, approximately 43 homeless families are turned away each month from the Women’s Shelter, Salvation Army Transitional Housing, Olmsted County Community Action Program’s Family Homeless Prevention Program, and Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center’s Homeless Outreach Program.
    • There are typically 5 homeless families/year in the Salvation Army’s transitional housing program.
    • In the past year, about 86 families with 181 children who were homeless or at risk of homelessness received assistance from programs that prevent homelessness or rapidly re-house those who have become homeless.


    • The Youth Survey from November 2011 identified 60 young people (ages 12 to 24) in Rochester who were living in unstable situations. These included emergency shelter, hotel/motel, doubled up with friends/family, empty building or car, foster care, or in another place that was not their own.
    • The Minnesota Department of Education reported that there were 104 unaccompanied youth counted as homeless in the Olmsted County Public Schools in the 2010-2011 school year. So far, in the 2011-2012 school year, 47 unaccompanied homeless youth have been identified in the Rochester Public Schools.
    • Each year, about 58 unaccompanied youth (ages 17-25) without children receive homeless prevention assistance through the LINK FHPAP program previously operated by the Rochester YMCA but now run by Lutheran Social Services.
    • Over the past 6 months years, the Homeless Service Team has worked with 12 individuals ages 18-25 who are homeless.
    • At any given time, there are typically 8 homeless youth receiving housing assistance and supportive services through Lutheran Social Service’s LINK transitional housing program for youth.


    • The population of students experiencing homelessness in the Olmsted County public schools has increased steadily throughout the last five years. This increase is attributed to the changing economic times, as well as to efforts to increase awareness within the district.
    • The number of homeless families staying at the Dorothy Day Shelter has increased over the past three years, from 15 families with 29 children in 2009 to 25 families with 61 children in 6
    • Dorothy Day is not designed to shelter families, and families typically stay here as a last resort when they don’t meet the entry requirements for Interfaith House of Hospitality or other options are full.


    • There are very young children in Rochester who are experiencing homelessness with their parents. There were 24 children under 5 who were sheltered at the Interfaith Hospitality Network in 2011. Of the 147 children whose families were assisted by the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program, 59 were age 5 or under (40%). For families in Transitional Housing in a two-year period, 16 of 30 children (53%) were age 5 or under.
    • Homeless youth and youth at risk of homelessness are disproportionately youth of color.
    • The families who participate in the Salvation Army’s Transitional Housing Program are predominantly in the age range of 18 to 30, and are typically single females with children.
    • The families who receive homeless prevention and rapid rehousing assistance have more parents in the 31-50 age group.
    • Of the 314 children identified as homeless in Olmsted County Public Schools in 2010-2011, 8 are pre-K, 220 are in elementary schools and 86 are in secondary schools.
    • For youth that seek help from the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program, nearly all (94 youth, 91%) had their last permanent housing in Minnesota, Of these, 85 youth last had permanent housing in Olmsted County, and another 5 last lived in other SE MN counties.
    • Service Needs
    • Help with Higher Education/College and Employment Services are the highest priority needs of unaccompanied young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
    • Young parents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness need help meeting basic needs (clothing, childcare, dental) but also desire assistance with services to help them improve their situation (higher education, budgeting/credit, and employment).


    • Domestic violence and disabilities each affect 43% of the adults in families that enter transitional housing.
    • Of the families who receive services from Olmsted County Community Action’s Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program, very low incomes are a major barrier. Twelve out of 22 families ( 55%) had incomes at or below 50% of federal poverty level.
    • Lack of employment is the biggest barrier identified by youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Of youth households receiving FHPAP assistance, 93% lack steady full-time employment.
    • Lack of credit and rental history are also high barriers for youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Of youth households receiving FHPAP assistance, 78% said they lack credit history and 67% lack rental history, both of which could help them secure rental housing.
    • Of the youth 18 and over who completed the youth survey, just 11% had graduated from high school.


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  • 21Oct

    1) Treating the county in a fair and respectful manner.
    2) Approving Massage Therapy Licenses.
    3) Kicking off our long overdue comprehensive plan update. (corrected per Allen, thx)

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  • 31Mar

    Here is a position statement from someone that I trust and respect.  What do you think?

    DMC is conceivd as a partnership between Mayo Clinic and the City of Rochester. Mayo Clinic is not responsible for the well-being of the citizens of Rochester. The government of this city is.

    So far, we have left it to Mayo Clinic to do all the heavy lifting. That’s not much of a partnership. The city government needs to step up and speak to DMC concerns that fall within the authority of the city. To the extent that these are questions raised by our citizens, the city has an obligation to provide answers, to make clear what it is the city intends. That’s the kind of strong partner the city should be.

    Being a strong partner does not mean we have to “stand up” to Mayo Clinic. Partners should stand with each other. But, we cannot do either until we stand for something. Partnerships need to be based on clear expectations, honest and open communication, and a mutual respect for what each partner brings. Patients are at the core of Mayo Clinic’s mission. At the core of the city’s mission must be our citizens.

    In this DMC partnership, the city must stand for its people even as it stands with Mayo Clinic. The good of this city, the well-being of our citizens, is not the responsibility of Mayo Clinic; it is the responsibility, the obligation, the duty of city government. It is time the city started doing its duty. We must start answering for ourselves, especially those questions for which only the city has the authority to answer.

    The “medical center” is definitely Mayo Clinic, but the “destination” is Rochester, Minnesota.

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  • 13Jan

    All city council members serve on a number of boards and commissions as official representatives of the city of Rochester.  Now that I am in my 5th year and an old timer on the council, I have been able to move onto some of the committees that are the most interesting to me.  These committee assignments are made by the entire city council, not actually the council president.  It has been our tradition to allow the council president to prepare the list of recommendations.  Here is where I am serving this year.

    Rochester Public Utilities  – Since I have Masters Degrees in electrical engineering, business, and an interest in power this was my first choice.  This will be my first full year and second overall on the RPU board.  This board oversees the entire power and water operation for the city of Rochester.  My focus will continue to be on financial, social, and environmental sustainability.  I want to work of pricing that rewards good decisions.  I want to see a plan to bury utilities in older or redeveloping neighborhoods.  I want to see a transition to cleaner and more local resources.  I want to see up protect our water aquifers.

    Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments (ROCOG) – While you may not have heard of this organization, it is an important one.  While this group works on a number of issues it is mostly focused on transportation and land use issues.  This is the group that we need to lead the way in slowing the sprawl and building livable communities.  The group is committed to sustainability.  I want to see better cooperation on transit.  I want to work to see Olmsted County join other large counties, Rochester, and the state of Minnesota in adopting a Complete Streets Policy.

    Rochester Energy Commission – This newer group that Ed Hruska and I helped create is in the process of gathering data, creating a baseline, and making recommendations to help Rochester save money and combat climate change.

    Personal Advisory Committee (PAC) – This seldom used committee provides input to HR and addresses HR issues that must go beyond internal business units.  This may become more important as we implement changes related to Obamacare.  While the policy will provide coverage to tens of millions more Americans, specific details may require Rochester to be nimble.  In my role as a council member I have a dual constituency.  I represent the city of Rochester which deserves good government, but I also respect and serve the incredibly talented staff that we have in the city.  I strive to be fair to both parties.

    Planning Advisory Services Committee (PASC) – I think that is what it stands for…  Because we have a planning agency that is shared between Rochester and Olmsted County, this is the group that oversees that agency.  I don’t ever remember this group having a meeting.  I requested to be on in for 2013 (probably the first request ever).  We will meet to discuss the skills and processes that we need to prepare us for the future.  I will continue my push for architectural review, form based zoning codes, and the imagine process.

    Committee on Urban Design and the Environment (CUDE) – There is no official city council member on this body, however I have adopted them as my own.  I support the work they to as the voice of people who demand high quality aesthetically pleasing public places.  I have used the volunteers to provide input in complex neighborhood projects with great success.  On think we need to do is get the 16 membership number under control, better include them in public processes, and find a way to consolidate municipal award programs.

    I am also a director for Envision MN, which is outside, but related to my council duties.  I serve on a number of other local, regional, and national boards.  That is all.

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  • 10Jul

    Rochester passed a complete streets policy in my 2nd ever city council meeting.  The first in Minnesota!

    I served on a MN-DOT committee that created a policy for the state.

    Olmsted County is dragging its feet.

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