Council's Corner
A monthly newsletter brought to you by the Columbus City Council.

Welcome to the Council's Corner! Not meant to be a substitute for detailed Council minutes, this newsletter will highlight newsworthy items, actions and future events. A new issue will be published monthly and will be drafted by a councilmember. Council's Corner authors rotate each month so that you hear from each councilmember in their own voices.  They'd love to hear from you too! Their contact information is provided below.  Also check out the Mayor’s Message on the City Website.

Register to receive Council Corner messages via email on our email registration page.

Mayor Jesse Preiner

Term Ends:  December 31, 2024
Phone:  651-464-3120

Council Members

Rob Busch

Term Ends:  December 31, 2024
Phone:  651-464-3120

Ron Hanegraaf

Term Ends: December 31, 2026

Janet Hegland

Term Ends:  December 31, 2026
Phone:  651-301-1757

Sue Wagamon

Term Ends:  December 31, 2024
Phone:  651-464-3120


 Vol. 4, Issue 1 - February 5, 2024

This edition was composed by Councilmember Ron Hanegraaf.

What's Coming In?

Rescued Pets Are Wonderful (RPAW), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, received a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in the Highway Commercial District at 15161 Feller St. NE. For those not familiar with the address, RPAW is taking over the space formerly occupied by Exercise Guys, which used to have exercise equipment on the roof, along the east side of Interstate 35 and south of Love’s Travel Stop. RPAW plans to operate a wellness center for canines and felines that are in their rescue system. There will be veterinary services performing minor surgeries with minimum overnight stays. You should see remodeling in this location starting this spring.

RPAW logo

Fee Schedule Increases

The City of Columbus is raising several permit fees in certain areas to cover increased costs. Some of these fees have not been increased in decades. The fee schedule is located on our website under by hovering over the "Government" tab above, hovering over "City Documents" and selecting “Forms, Licenses & Permits.”

Fiscal Disparities (FD)

This topic has been around since 1992 when the legislation was enacted (State Statute 473F.001, Chapters 511-H.F.No. 2940). It is a complex topic and hard to explain in this short narrative. In brief, the legislation requires all metro Cities to put forth a percentage of their Commercial Property Tax into a group fund. This fund is distributed back to the Cities according to a certain formula. As noted, the formula is complex but has a lot to do with the population and net tax capacity of the Cities involved. This fund is distributed back to the Cities according to the formula developed in 1992. This is a rough number, but in 2023 the City paid approximately $800,000 of our City commercial taxes into the FD group fund, and we received approximately $200,000 back for our portion. We, like other small Cities, appear to be consistently on the short end of this distribution. The Council has been working with our legislators, Representative Nolan West and Senator Michael Kreun, who agree with our grievance about the formula being unjust in our current position. We hope that this year the FD issue will be addressed in the legislative session and our unique situation will be addressed.

Sports Betting

Though this topic has not been on the City Council agenda, it is a big topic this year in the state legislature that could affect the Cities of Columbus and Shakopee. The issue is going to have an enormous impact on our community as Running Aces is among the City’s biggest employers, and one of the top contributors in regards to commercial taxes. This bill is still working its way around the capitol, so keep an eye on it and contact your representatives to voice your opinion. Our state Senator is Michael Kreun (EMAIL) and our State Representative is Nolan West (EMAIL). We need all our businesses to be prosperous and see a future in Columbus.

Park Board

Our Park Board Commissioners meet six times a year to discuss issues in the parks such as the maintenance and future improvements. On January 30, the Park Board approved a bid to cut down 21 dead trees in the Columbus Park, located on Kettle River Boulevard and Notre Dame Street. The trees in question are marked with orange paint and the removal process will start if/when the ground freezes enough for large equipment to get in there.

The Park Board also heard from the Columbus Lions regarding their request to use the park quarterly for some of their events, one of which is planned in February of this year (further details on this event will be posted). The Board also welcomed the Forest Lake Area Fast Pitch Association, who reserved the ballfields from May 31 to June 2, for their Furious Tournament consisting of 58 Girls Softball teams. The Columbus Lions will be serving food at this tournament.

There was discussion on the tennis courts and the possibility of dividing up the location into two pickleball courts and one tennis court. This issue is still in discussion, so keep your eyes open to what is on the agenda for their next meeting on April 16, 2024.

We are always looking for new comments and ideas concerning the parks. Bring your thoughts and join us. The Park Board meets at City Hall on the following Tuesdays in 2024 at 5:30 p.m.: January 30, April 16, May 14, July 16, September 17, and November 19, 2024. The schedule is always on the City’s website by hovering over "News," then selecting "Calendar."

 Vol. 3, Issue 3 - December 18, 2023

This edition was composed by Councilmember Janet Hegland

Columbus Lions

The Columbus Lions presented at the Public Open Forum on November 8, educating the Council on the projects and organizations they support (Scouts, Parks, Christmas adopt-a-family, Schools, Food Shelf, etc.) in our community and inviting the public to join their efforts to make Columbus an even better place to live. They meet every other Wednesday night and host fundraisers such as the monthly Pancake Breakfast in the City’s Community/Senior Center and the food court at Fall Fest. They describe themselves as “small, but mighty” because they are a small organization but make big impacts. Visit the next Pancake breakfast and get more information about this much appreciated organization.

North Hornsby Street LRIP Application

Columbus learned earlier this year that Forest Lake received state funding to improve/repair Eureka Avenue, the street that turns into North Hornsby Street at the Columbus border. Unfortunately, they did not seek to coordinate their funding request with Columbus and did not receive funding to improve the northly 1,200 feet of Hornsby Street up to the Columbus City limit. Before committing to improve this stretch of Hornsby Street, the City Council directed our City Engineer to apply for a state Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) grant to seek state funding for this improvement. The grant, if obtained, would support reconstruction of that section of Hornsby in 2024 to align with the Forest Lake Eureka Avenue project, creating a consistent corridor and would include curb, gutter, and a separated pedestrian trail.

NE Quadrant Apartment Project

The City Council agreed to extend the agreement to purchase city land for a market rate apartment complex project planned for the Northeast Quadrant of the Freeway district, (next to the Caribou Coffee) to December 31. Negotiations with the developer began more than a year ago and since that time, a new investment company that has extensive experience in developing market rate apartment complexes is interested in taking over the project. With this extension, the tentative closing date is mid-April 2024.

City Administrator Search

The City Council accepted the resignation of City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko, who will be moving out of state because of a new employment opportunity for her husband. She intends to remain on site through December 31 and work remotely through March 31, 2024. Ms. Mursko was hired when Columbus was still a township and has led the city through many changes, including incorporation as a city in 2006 in her 20-plus year tenure. The Council Personnel Committee, comprised of Councilmembers Sue Wagamon and Janet Hegland, City Attorney Megan Rogers, and City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko, outlined a plan for seeing the city through the transition to a new City Administrator. Human Resources/Organizational Development Consultant Ellen Hinrichs has been retained to review and update job descriptions, including updating the City Administrator Job Description; and developing an Interim City Administrator Job Description. She will also advise on an organizational realignment that will be implemented with the hire of a permanent City Administrator. To provide stability and maintain service during the time it will take to hire a permanent replacement, the Council hired Jack Davis, the former City Administrator in East Bethel, on a temporary basis to serve in the role of the Interim City Administrator. His term currently is defined as January 2 through May 31. A Request for Proposals was sent to 10 Executive Search Firms on November 21 with a response date of December 8, to recruit qualified candidates to fill the City Administrator role permanently. The goal is to have a permanent City Administrator hire by May 1, 2024, with a month transition between the Interim and the Permanent City Administrator.

Code Compliance Inspector Report

Sean L., Columbus Code Compliance Inspector, presented his first quarterly report to the Council since his hire in July. During this time there were 32 cases investigated, 19 of which were resolved at the time of his report. The average turnaround time to contact a complainant is less than one day, most were made the same day. 61 percent of the calls were for general ordinance violations; 32 percent were zoning/conditional use or interim use permit complaints; 7 percent were building code violations/complaints. In addition to responding to calls, he is in the process of updating the security around City Hall and Public Works/Fire Station through installation of security cameras. In addition, he has coordinated installation of ADA compliant doors for City Hall and the Senior/Community Center, updated the city’s business list, and brought the city into compliance with construction of a trash enclosure on City Hall Property.

Upcoming Elections

There will be three elections in 2024. More specific information related to City Hall Hours for each of these elections, and options for voting will be posted on the City Website.

March 5, 2024 Presidential Nomination Primary Election

Eligible voters may cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person starting 46 days prior to Election Day. Absentee voting will begin on Friday, January 19 through March 4 for the March Presidential Nomination Primary.

August 13, 2024 Primary

Eligible voters may cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person starting 46 days prior to Election Day. Absentee voting will begin on Friday, June 28 through August 12 for the Primary

November 5, 2024 General Election

Eligible voters may cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person starting 46 days prior to Election Day. Absentee voting will begin on Friday, September 20 through November 4.

Lead Service Line Inventory

In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed a new rule under the Safe Drinking Water Act to better protect communities to lead exposure in drinking water.  This rule, known as the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI), requires public water systems to identify the service line materials of all service connections in their distribution system, regardless of whether that service connection is publicly or privately owned. The implementation of this federal rule has been passed down through state agencies, which for Minnesota is the Department of Health (DOH).  
The inventory of water service connections is required to be completed by October 16, 2024. Because the Columbus public system is relatively new, we know there are no lead service lines in the public domain. However, the service lines providing municipal water on private property will require additional research, potentially including review of building permits and/or on-site inspections. Once we have received the authorization to proceed the city will provide additional information on the timeline to complete the inventory.

City Hall Holiday Hours

The City Hall will be closed for the Christmas Holiday on Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 25. It will also be closed on New Year's Day.

Anoka County Highway Department Open House for Lake Drive Project

Anoka County Highway Department is conducting a study on the Concrete Pavement Construction project for Lake Drive (CSAH 23) from Main Street (CSAH 14) to Kettle River Boulevard NE (CSAH 62), slated for 2025. An open house in the Columbus Community Center was held December 14 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. to share this study with the public. The materials presented at the open house are also available on the Anoka County Highway Department’s website for the project, where the public can review the study and weigh in on the various options that are being considered.

City Park Improvements

The old concrete posts lining the parking lot of City Park were removed and a new fence was installed along the Notre Dame side of City Park to match that which runs along Kettle River Boulevard. In addition to the new fence, parking curbs were installed in the City Park Parking lot to keep cars from hitting the fence and to facilitate a more orderly parking pattern in the lot.

Cracks in the walking path were filled and the path seal coated.  

The Park Board requested that the parking lots along 165th Avenue (ballfield and near the tennis courts) be blocked off for the winter months to prevent vehicles from entering and becoming stuck in the snow (these lots are not plowed in the winter). Until there is a forecast of plowable snow, the lots will remain open but will be chained off in advance of forecasted significant snow.

 Vol. 3, Issue 2 - August 16, 2023

This edition was composed by Councilmember Sue Wagamon

Presentation from Columbus' State Representatives

Columbus City Council was privileged with the presence of Representative Nolan West and Senator Michael Kreun for a recap of the state's latest legislative session. They explained the various increases in transportation, gas, motor vehicle and sales taxes. Although the funds from these taxes will benefit parts of their districts, they didn't see a direct impact to Columbus with the exception of one-time law enforcement funding. Columbus could benefit up to $182,000 to fund various initiatives including violence prevention or fire equipment. It just so happens that Columbus has a fire truck to work into the budget that this funding will help tremendously!

They talked about one of the bills that did not pass that is a huge economic driver and will be a high priority to the Democratic Caucus, which was sports betting. The way the bill was written, it would give exclusive rights to the tribal areas and exclude Running Aces and Canterbury Park in Shakopee from sports betting. They predict this would have a huge impact on both businesses and would negatively impact Columbus in the long run. Both West and Kreun are dedicated to working toward a bill in the next session that would benefit Running Aces and Canterbury.

On a positive note, we discussed the topic of Fiscal Disparities, which is a tax base-sharing program in the seven-county metro area. "Under these programs, local government units contribute a portion of the growth in the value of their commercial, industrial and public utility property to a tax base sharing pool. Each community receives a distribution of property value from the pool based on the market value and population of each City" ( Under this program, Columbus is a net loser, which means that the City pays more into the fund than it gets in return and results in higher taxes to Columbus residents. This is due to a complicated calculation of the components of the program. However, the good news is that the Council got the attention of our Representatives to explore in the near future how we can address the issue and move toward becoming a net winner!

Small Cities Transportation Funding

The City Council is always looking for ways to gain additional funding for the City, whether it's challenging the Fiscal Disparities Program or utilizing the Small Cities Transportation Funding Program. The City Council engaged its City Attorney and his firm, Larkin Hoffman, to "identify a source of permanent funding for local transportation projects," which has been irregular in the past and difficult to plan for. They worked with House and Senate representatives for more consistent funding, which turned out to be successful! It was incorporated into the Omnibus Transportation Finance Bill and will provide a permanent source of transportation funding for Columbus!

"The House Research Department projects that Columbus will receive $99,400 beginning in 2025, which is the first year of funding under the Transportation Advancement Account. This funding for small Cities is also expected to increase substantially over time."

Communal Aluminum Can Recycling

The Council discussed the topic of reintroducing communal aluminum can recycling because a Columbus resident inquired why the City no longer provided that opportunity. Several years ago, the Forest Lake Fire Department parked a trailer cage in the City's parking lot to collect cans for recycling as a fundraiser for the department. Bringing back the can trailer would cost the City $50 per trailer in "truck fees," which would be deducted from the payout from the recycling revenue, and the City would receive the proceeds to put towards a particular campaign, such as a the Park Fund. The Council has approved the program's resumption, and the trailer cage will be delivered in the near future.


 Vol. 3, Issue 1 - March 27, 2023

This edition was composed by Councilmember Sue Wagamon

Street Smart - Welcome to Columbus!

Street Smart Rental has officially moved into their new building in Columbus at 6811 137th Ave., right off of Lake Drive. They hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on February 9, which the Mayor and all City Councilmembers attended. Street Smart Rental is a national sales and rental business for traffic safety equipment. Street Smart is in their 24th year of business and is now servicing all 50 states in the U.S. Their Conditional Use Permit (CUP) was approved in October 2021. Their business was previously located in Lino Lakes and Hugo. Welcome to Columbus!

Blaine Brothers - PUD/CUP Approved

The City Council approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD)/CUP on December 28, 2022, for the Blaine Brothers TruckAline business that will be located at the intersection of Hornsby Street and future 150th Avenue. The final plat was approved by the City Council at its meeting on March 22, 2023.

Blaine Brothers is a second-generation family-owned business established in 1979 providing trucking parts, service and sales. In 2013, the company acquired Minnesota-based TruckAline. TruckAline specializes in full-service frame, suspension and alignment services and is currently located in Blaine.

A public hearing was held on December 7, 2022, for the proposed Bonfire Farmstead Preliminary Plat and proposed TruckAline PUD/CUP, submitted by 3 Beacon Holdings, LLC (DBA Blaine Brothers). The PUD/CUP was approved by the City Council at its meeting on December 28, 2022.

Local Board of Appeal and Equalization

The City's Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting date has been set for April 18, 2023, at 6 p.m. The purpose of this meeting is to allow Columbus residents who have questions on whether taxable property in the City has been properly valued and classified by the Anoka County Assessor and to determine whether corrections need to be made for the next tax year (2024). The Assessor will be present at the meeting.

New Members Appointed to the Planning Commission

The Columbus Planning Commission plays an important role in making recommendations to the City Council on planning and zoning issues, land use, ordinance amendments and community development. The Planning Commission has been busy over the last several months updating ordinances and reviewing CUP. There have also been some changes to Commission members. We are happy to welcome the new appointees to the Planning Commission!

  • Bethany Barrette
  • Lynn Carver-Quinn
  • Judy Huntosh (pictured)

Recycling Spring Events

Upcoming recycling events include:

  • Bicycle Drop-Off on Wednesday, May 10 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Recycling Drop-Off Event on Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m.-noon
  • Paper Shredding Event on Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m.-noon

For more details, go to the Recycle & Refuse webpage or contact City Hall at 651-464-3120, ext. 1010.

 Vol. 2, Issue 6 - September 28, 2022

This edition was composed by Councilmember Sue Wagamon

2023 Preliminary Levy

The City Council has held meetings over the last several weeks to determine the 2023 preliminary levy for the 2023 City Budget. As I have learned over the last couple years on the Council, there are many factors to the equation other than personnel, services, equipment and supplies. I believe that I, along with all Council members, took a serious and conservative approach in looking at all aspects of the budget. The City Council voted on the 2023 levy with a slightly lower tax rate (2023 = 45.81 percent) compared to last year (2022 = 48.34 percent), a 2.53 percent decrease over last year. Although inflation is on the rise and the City has grown, the benefit of the changes to the real estate market and new businesses in Columbus has balanced those costs for an overall reduction.

The final tax levy for 2023 will be voted on at a City Council meeting in December. There will be a public open forum for Columbus residents and property owners to comment on the 2023 budget and levy during that City Council meeting.


 Vol. 2, Issue 5 - July 27, 2022

This edition was composed by Councilmember Sue Wagamon

Amendment - Chapter 4 - Regulating the Sale of Tobacco and Related Products

A Public Hearing was held on July 27, 2022, to review a proposed amendment to Chapter 4 of the City Code, regulating the retail sales of tobacco and related products. The purpose “is intended to regulate the sale of tobacco, tobacco related devices, electronic delivery devices, and nicotine or lobelia delivery products for the purpose of enforcing and furthering existing laws, to protect minors and young adults against the serious effects associated with use and initiation and to further the official public policy of the state in regard to preventing young people from starting to smoke as stated in Minn. Stat. § 144.391.” In the past, the City has utilized Anoka County to process licenses for tobacco sales, but the City will now begin processing the licenses. After clarifying questions from the Council to the City Administrator and Assistant City Administrator, the Council passed the amendment with minor changes. This amendment will be added as section 4-900 at the end of Chapter 4 of the Code, which is titled Licensing, and will be posted on the website soon.

Residential Dog Kennel Interim Use Permit

The Council reviewed and passed a renewal for an Interim Use Permit (IUP) for a Residential Dog Kennel from Glen and Sue Kothe. The Kothes have had an IUP for 10 years and a kennel license for the previous 20 years. They also own Total Recall School for Dogs in Hugo, Minn.

Fall 2022 Recycling Events

The Fall Recycling Events calendar was presented to the City Council for review. The City hosts multiple recycling events throughout the year for residents to participate in. The Council approved the list of events, along with sending out a reminder postcard to all residents.

The schedule is as follows. All events take place at City Hall or the Community Center.

September 7: Bicycle drop off

September 10: Drop off with coupon (2 free items)

October 1: Fix-It Clinic

October 1: Free Paper Shredding

 2023 Anoka County Municipal Waste Abatement Grant Funding Application

The Deputy City Clerk has completed an application for Anoka County municipal waste abatement grant funding. The Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment (SCORE) funds are to support and increase recycling activities and programs within the community. The funds allocated are based on the number of households in the City. There are multiple sections to the application with opportunities for grant money. One example is Base Funding, which lists eligible categories as: regular curbside collection, general operations of a drop-off center, costs for spring and fall recycling days, basic promotion, yard waste collection, and percentage of time the recycling coordinator spends on waste abatement activities.

 Anoka County Broadband Grant Support

In the 2022 Legislative session, $25 million in general revenue funds have been allocated to the Border-to-Border grant program for Fiscal Year 2023. This funding gives Anoka County the opportunity to pursue broadband challenges holistically. The County has identified areas that would be considered qualified for this funding and reached out to Columbus to request support to assist in their efforts. The Council passed a resolution to support Anoka County “to seek State and/or Federal funding sources to improve broadband connectivity in the City of Columbus,” and, “support related to the County’s determination of the connectivity technology that will allow for State and/or Federal funding sources.” The Council is excited to be supporting Anoka County in their efforts to potentially further Columbus’ broadband accessibility.

Park Board Discussion

Councilmember Janet Hegland gave some highlights from her discussions with the Columbus Park Board on July 14. Hegland stated that past communication frustrations between the Park Board and the Council may be alleviated by developing a Park Master Plan that would describe the 10-year vision of the Park Board for Columbus’ parks (City Park and Hidden Park) and serve as a roadmap towards budgeting, developing and identifying funding for that vision. With concerns about funding for a consultant to assist with the plan, Councilmember Hegland reached out to Sue Vento, our Representative on the Metropolitan (Met) Council, and Karen Blaska, the Parks Planner for Anoka County to ask if there were resources available that could be accessed by Columbus towards this developing a master park plan. Blaska provided several examples of plans and the Met Council’s Regional Park Plan template. They also connected us with resources from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, which has developed an online portal, available to cities and other governmental agencies at no cost, that leads you through the park master plan process and produce a professional looking plan that can be used for budgeting, communication and grant/foundation application purposes. The Park Board, along with Frank Koenen, Associate Planner for Columbus, agreed to move forward with that process.

Thank you, Janet, for finding free resources for the City!


 Vol. 2, Issue 4 - June 22, 2022

This edition was composed by Councilmember Janet Hegland

New Animal Control Contract

The Council unanimously approved a new Animal Control contract with Companion Animal Control, LLC, effective July 1. The prior Animal Control contract with North Metro Animal Care and Control was terminated by the business owner due to health issues. Companion Animal Control (CAC) will be available for call response at all times, including nights and holidays and will respond to barking/nuisance animal complaints, enforce animal related laws and regulations, pick up stray dogs and cats and transport them to the impound facility at Northwoods Humane Society, and will assist the City in its preparation and interpretation of all animal-related ordinances and procedures to insure humane animal treatment and public safety. The City website lists the contact information for CAC under the “Residents” tab, select “Pets” on the drop-down menu. This includes a link to the CAC website, where you can file a missing pet report and find information about any stray animals they have brought to the impound facility.

 Invisible Wounds Project Raffle

The Invisible Wounds Project applied for a premise permit to hold a raffle at Running Aces Harness Park on September 24, 2022. This organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides therapy services and resources to Minnesota’s military, first responders, frontline medical staff, corrections, dispatch, and their families, relating to mental health, PTSD and suicide issues. The raffle will be part of the Freedom Fest Event, back at Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack for 2022 after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus. The Council unanimously approved a resolution granting The Invisible Wounds Project a premise permit to hold the raffle. More information about Freedom Fest can be found at the Invisible Wounds Project website.

 City to Pursue High Speed Broadband Grant

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MnDEED) recently announced the availability of Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grants, totaling $95 million, to fund project planning; obtaining construction permits; construction of facilities, including construction of both "middle mile" and "last mile" infrastructure; equipment; and installation and testing of the broadband service. 

Broadband development projects located in unserved or underserved areas are eligible for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grants. An unserved area is an area of Minnesota in which households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds that meet the FCC threshold of 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload. An underserved area is an area of Minnesota in which households or businesses do receive service at or above the FCC threshold but lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds 100 megabits per second download and 20 megabits per second upload. Last mile infrastructure is broadband infrastructure that serves as the final leg connecting the broadband service provider’s network to the end-use customer’s on-premises telecommunications equipment. Middle mile infrastructure is broadband infrastructure that links a broadband service provider’s core network infrastructure to last -mile infrastructure.

The Council directed the city attorney and Councilmember Hegland to draft the required letter to major Broadband vendors alerting them to the City’s intent to apply for these funds and approved the submittal of a grant application to MnDEED for Broadband projects in Columbus.  The deadline for application is August 4 and awards are planned to be announced in Fall 2022.

Love's Travel Plaza Scheduled to Open August 1

Work is nearing completion on the Love's Travel Plaza, with an opening date planned for August 1. The road project to improve and reconstruct a portion of Hornsby St from TH97 to the south entrance of Love’s Travel Plaza to a 10-ton standard will begin after July 4 and is planned for completion by the August 1 opening.

City Staff Update

Due to resignations, leaves of absence and increased development in Columbus, the City has been short-staffed since last winter. With diligence and some luck, the Personnel Committee of the Council has recruited and interviewed candidates to fill the last two vacant city staff positions, a full-time Planning Technician and a full-time Senior Accountant.

The Council unanimously approved the hire of Ms. Ella Giefer for the Planning Technician position. Ms. Giefer works for the State of Minnesota in the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), as an Unemployment Insurance Operations Analyst. She has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and is interested in municipal planning as a career. Ms. Giefer will start work the week of July 18.

At the June 29 Special Meeting of the Council, the hire of Ms. Cheryl Jenkins for the position of Senior Accountant was unanimously approved. Ms. Jenkins has a B.S. in Accounting from St. Scholastica and 10+ years of accounting experience, most recently as the Fiscal Supervisor in Kanabec County. A start date has not yet been determined but will likely be towards the end of July/beginning of August.

Upcoming Elections

A slate of 26 election judges and an absentee ballot board was unanimously approved for the 2022 State Primary Election. For 2022 State Primary Election there are four recognized political parties:

A) Democratic Farmer-Labor Party

B) Republican Party

C) Legal Marijuana Now Party

D) Grass Roots - Legalizes Cannabis Party

State law requires that election precincts be balanced by political party and every attempt has been made to meet this requirement.

The Primary Election in-person voting will be held in the Public Works Building on August 9 2022. Absentee voting for the August 9 Primary election will be available starting June 24, 2022. More information about the upcoming elections and instructions for filing for candidacy for Mayor and City Council (two openings) is available on the City Website, click on the “Government” tab and select “Elections and Voting” on the drop down menu.


 Vol. 2, Issue 3 - April 27, 2022

This edition was composed by Councilmember Janet Hegland

Additional Trees to be Planted in Columbus City Park

The Columbus City Park Board, responding to feedback obtained in the Park survey conducted last fall, presented a revised proposal to plant 12 new trees along the walking path nearest to Kettle River Boulevard and along the southeast side of the ballfield across Kettle River Boulevard, with three trees also being planted near the ball diamonds closest to Notre Dame Street. An earlier presentation by the Park Board at the April 13, 2022 Council meeting was sent back with a request to obtain additional bids and tree size information. The new proposal, which was unanimously approved, reflected four bids with details on the size and variety of suggested trees and itemized costs to purchase and plant the trees. The final mix of trees to be planted, including several varieties of Maple and Hackberry, will be determined by the Park Board. Special thanks to Park Board Vice-Chair Kris King for leading the effort to obtain and present the additional information requested by the Council.


Mark Daly Resigns from Park Board and EDA

The City Council accepted the resignation of Park Board Chairman and Economic Development Authority (EDA) Commissioner Mark Daly at their April 27, 2022, meeting. Mr. Daly had formerly served on the Columbus City Council, was named to EDA Board in 2018 and assumed the Chair of the Park Board after former Park Board Chair Sandy Wood retired in August 2020. We deeply appreciate Mr. Daly’s contributions to the community and his many hours of service to Columbus.


Local Board of Appeals and Equalization Meeting

The City of Columbus held its Local Board of Appeals and Equalization meeting on April 28, 2022. This annual meeting is held to determine whether taxable property in the City has been properly valued and classified by the assessor and to determine whether corrections need to be made for the next tax year (2023). Mr. Alex Guggenberger, Anoka County Assessor, presented a report detailing the assessment procedure, appeal process and options, common definitions used in property assessment and a report of this year’s assessment in Columbus.

As of July 1, 2021, Anoka County took over the annual assessment of properties in Columbus. In 2021, all Residential and Exempt properties were visited to update County records and correct a large number of record errors that had accumulated over the years. In 2022, all Agricultural and Commercial/Industrial properties will be visited. This will complete the updating of records and thereafter, properties will be inspected every five years as is statutorily required.

The 2022 assessment was completed in February and the valuation notices were mailed the week of March 21st. The 2022 assessed value will be used for tax calculation purposes next year. The residential homes sales period associated with this assessment is October 1, 2020, thru September 30, 2021. Only arms-length sales that closed between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, were used to determine valuations for the 2022 assessment, for taxes payable in 2023.

The table below used various sales metrics to compare how the residential market in Columbus performed compared to the rest of the county. The sales study figures were gathered using Northstar MLS data. Sales data was compiled from January 1 to December 31, 2021.

Average Sales Price & Pct. Change (year over Year) $503,600 (+15.5%) $355,400 (+12.9%)
Median Sale Price Pct. Change (Year over Year) $490,000 (+22.1%) $327,500 (+14.11%)
Median Days on Market (DOM) 13 9
No. of Sales & Pct. Change (Year over Year) 66 (-2.95%) 6597 (0.01%)

The entire 2022 Assessor’s report is available at: 2022 Assessor's Report_Columbus


Road Projects

Bids for two road projects were presented and recommendations for contract award was unanimously approved by the Council. Both projects are scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Kettle River Heights Neighborhood

Reclamation and repaving of 167th Lane NE, Stanford Street NE, 168th Lane NE and Vassar Street NE was awarded to Valley Paving, Inc. A map of the area to be repaved is provided below:

 Kettle River Heights Repave Map

Hornsby Street Improvement Project

The Council approved bids and contract award to Park Construction Company to improve and reconstruct a portion of Hornsby Street from TH97 to the south entrance of Love’s Travel Plaza to a 10-ton standard. While the costs of the entire project, including the design, construction, inspection and permitting will be borne by Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc., the City needs to bid and oversee that project since the work will be done in a City right-of-way.


City Staff Update

The Council accepted the resignation from the Associate Planner, Ben Gutknecht, effective May 3rd. Mr. Gutknecht was hired in 2019 and quickly rose through the ranks from Planning Technician to Associate Planner in just under three years. He will be assuming a similar role in the City of Stillwater. The Associate Planner position was posted immediately in hopes of recruiting a candidate as quickly as possible. In the meantime, Mr. Gutknecht’s responsibilities are being carried out by City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko and City Planning Consultant Dean Johnson. We thank Mr. Gutknecht for his hard work and expertise and wish him the best of luck in his new position!


Small Cities Legislation Update

City Attorney Bill Griffith updated the Council on the small cities legislative effort on which Columbus has taken the lead. This effort intends to remedy the unintended financial consequences of the Fiscal Disparities Act on Columbus taxpayers. A bill has been written up under SF 3340 by lead author Senator Karin Housley. Forty communities have signed on to our bill and we are now working with the Senate Tax Chair to get the matter heard in Committee and included in the Omnibus Tax Bill. We continue to work with the senators representing the 40 communities that would benefit from this effort and if we are successful there, we’ll begin working on the House side to do the same. We are hopeful that by the end of this year’s session, we will have a remedy for our tax paying citizens to this long-standing problem.

At the direction of this Council, Mr. Griffith’s firm also continues to lobby for the passage of a permanent change to transportation funding for small cities, which would also create some relief for the taxpayers of Columbus.


Federal Internet Funding Sought

The City Attorney also reported back on the outreach he was directed to make to the offices of Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Representative Tom Emmer after a Star Tribune article reported on earmarks the three had brought back to Minnesota from the Infrastructure Bill. The hope was that there might still be time to get involved in available programs for this round of funding. Unfortunately, two days after the Council gave direction to follow up on those opportunities, the deadline for requests passed, so a call was made to the three representatives' Washington, D.C. offices to inquire if there would be a second opportunity to get involved in a community funding program that could direct funding for broadband expansion to cities such as Columbus. Representative Emmer’s office reported back that his priority was to fund roads and bridges, but Senator Klobuchar has been a strong advocate for broadband expansion and is willing to work with us as other opportunities present.

The Community Funding project is an annual program, one of many, and Megan Knight in our City Attorney’s Washington, D.C. office, will continue to keep our request on her radar so that when the next annual appropriations for the Community Funding projects roll around, we will be early in the queue. Meanwhile, Ms. Knight will track the flow of funds for Broadband expansion from the Infrastructure Bill through Federal/State channels, to determine which agencies will have decision making in how those funds will be divided up. She will pass those opportunities on to us so we can get ahead of the queue as these decisions are made.


Community Center Rental/Lions Pancake Breakfast

Councilmember Hegland, Mayor Jesse Preiner and City Administrator Mursko met with the Columbus Lions on April 19th, to discuss the re-opening of the Senior/Community Center and availability to restart their monthly Lions Pancake Breakfasts there. The Center was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the breakfasts have been on hold in Columbus due to the inability of the City or the organization to meet the guidelines put forth by the CDC and MN Department of Health. Now that the guidelines have loosened, the Lions expressed their desire to come back to Columbus in September after their summer break and the Council agreed that we would love to have them back for this wonderful community event. Equipment requirements, dates, and times that they would need to reserve the center, required supplies, cleaning schedule, etc. were discussed. The Council will be presented a proposal at an upcoming Council meeting that would set the terms for reserving the Senior/Community Center for the pancake breakfast, with a goal of a September return to Columbus!


Volunteers Needed!

Councilmember Sue Wagamon reported on behalf of the Events Committee to discuss the challenges that a lack of community interest/volunteers to work on Community events posed, not just for the annual Fall Fest but for other types of Community events. The committee’s original idea was to task the Park Board with creating a subcommittee of volunteers to help organize and put on one or more community events, but no volunteers from Park Board came forth so the Events Committee regrouped to reconsider their approach.

They will firm up the goals, resources and support for community events and will be sending out a call for volunteers who may be interested in working on planning and putting on such events in Columbus. Stay tuned for communication in the upcoming City Newsletter and an email to those who have signed up to receive email notices of volunteer and committee opportunities in Columbus. If you are interested in being added to the email list of volunteer opportunities in Columbus, REGISTER FOR EMAIL UPDATES REGRDING VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES.


 Vol. 2, Issue 2 - February 23, 2022

This edition is provided by Councilmember Hegland

Metropolitan Council Member Susan Vento Attends Council Meeting

District 11 Metropolitan (Met) Council Member Susan (Sue) Vento, representing Columbus, Centerville, Lino Lakes and Linwood in Anoka County, attended the February 23, 2022, Council Meeting. The Met Council is a regional policy-making body, planning agency and provider of essential services (e.g., Metro Transit, wastewater treatment services, regional parks, etc.) for the seven-county metro area. Columbus, like other cities in the seven-county metropolitan area, is required to submit a Comprehensive Plan every 10 years to the Met Council outlining Columbus’ vision of how it wants to grow and change. Ms. Vento updated the Council on the SW transit project, an opportunity to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and how COVID-19 scientists in the Met Council’s Environmental Services division extract viral genetic material from wastewater samples from the Metro Plant in Saint Paul and, in partnership with the University of Minnesota, measure concentrations of the SARS-CoV-2 viral material in the wastewater to assess COVID-19 prevalence among the population who live in the sewershed. Monitoring wastewater gives scientists another resource to help inform public health decision making and lays the groundwork for wastewater surveillance of other infectious diseases. Councilmember Vento commented how much she enjoys visiting Columbus and congratulated the Council on delivering on the 2040 Comprehensive plan, which she described as thorough, timely and well-done.

Liquor License for Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack Renewed

The City Attorney outlined a summary of the licensed premises and operations for the renewal of Running Aces Casino, Hotel and Racetrack’s liquor license, with Sunday and 2 a.m. sales, for the 2022 licensing year. The summary included a description of the secured premises in which liquor is allowed to be sold, satisfaction of state and local requirement for background checks, absence of complaints to the city and no security and liquor law violations since 2016 (one between 2008 to 2016). The City Council unanimously approved the renewal of Running Aces’ liquor license subject to meeting the conditions set forth in the license.

2022 Redistricting Actions

Every 10 years, a process called redistricting, which is based on new U.S. Census population data to ensure equal representation, is adopted. New legislative and congressional district maps were released by a special Minnesota court panel on February 15, 2022. City governments must establish or reestablish all precincts within 60 days of the adoption of the state redistricting plan or by March 29, 2022, whichever comes first. These established precinct boundaries become effective on the date of the 2022 primary. The state’s redistricting did not change the precinct for Columbus (we have only one located at the Columbus Public Works Building, 16345 Kettle River Blvd.), nor did it change our Congressional representation in the House and Senate or the County Commission district for Columbus. The Council unanimously passed a resolution reestablishing Columbus’s single precinct and polling place at the Columbus Public Works Building.

Fiscal Disparities Bill Update

In 1971, the state of Minnesota instituted a program of commercial/industrial property tax base sharing within the Twin Cities metropolitan area (a parallel program was established on the Iron Range in 1995). This program is referred to as “fiscal disparities” program and is described in Chapter 473F of Minnesota Statutes.

As background, a city determines what amount it must levy to property owners and businesses to provide local services. In the absence of tax-base sharing, the levy would simply be spread across the tax base within that city. With the fiscal disparities program, however, the tax burden on taxpayers within the city may be more or less than the city’s levy, depending on the formula the state uses to determine whether the city is a net contributor or a net recipient. If the city is a net contributor (i.e., contributes more money to the fiscal disparities pool than it gets back), the properties within the city will pay more tax than the city’s levy. If the city is a net recipient (of the fiscal disparities pool), the city’s taxpayers will pay less than the amount levied. While the intent of this program is to promote a more orderly regional development and improve equity in the distribution of fiscal resources, Columbus has consistently been financially disadvantaged by this program. For the past 10 years, Columbus has been a net contributor, contributing approximately 40 percent of the commercial/industrial property tax revenue generated by Columbus Commercial/Industrial businesses to the fiscal disparities pool and receiving far less back in return (since 2016, the difference between what Columbus contributed and what we received back ranged between $360,000 to $536,000). The reason this happens is complicated and due to the State’s formula used determine the sharing, but the bottom line is that we are one of the few communities that consistently pay in far more than we receive back. This means that our residents and businesses are making up that difference. For 2022, our city’s entire budget is $3.7 million, and we will pay into the fiscal disparities program approximately $536,000 more than we need to run this city. Think what a difference another $536,000 in revenue would have made to all of our property tax bills.

Last year, this Council decided that we needed to do what no other Council was willing to take on and convince the State that something needed to be done to remedy this long-standing problem. The fiscal disparities problem is compounded by the fact that Columbus also does not receive state revenue from the gas tax we all pay (this is because our population is under 5,000). It means that our tax payers are paying into two programs that are not returning revenues back to Columbus.

The fiscal disparities program for the most part works, so the State is not willing to revise the formula or the program, but there are other ways to remedy this problem for Columbus. Last year the Council directed our City Attorney’s firm to lobby our state representatives to introduce a bill that would direct other funds from the State to small cities, like Columbus, disadvantaged by the fiscal disparities program. The bill created an exception from the fiscal disparities program for cities of a similar size to Columbus and was supported by Senator Michelle Benson. It was introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate but eventually stalled out for reasons unrelated to support. This year we authorized the City Attorney to try again to get the bill reintroduced.

City Attorney Griffith provided a legislative update, indicating a bill had been written up under SF 3340 by lead author Senator Karin Housley. The bill is still awaiting a House author, so that is the next focus of business. We are hopeful that by the end of this year’s session, we will have a remedy for our tax paying citizens to this long-standing problem.


 Vol. 2, Issue 1 - January 26, 2022

This edition is provided by Council Member Wagamon.

The Sheriff Was in Town! For a Good Cause…

The Anoka County Sheriff, James Stuart, along with the Columbus Liaison, Lieutenant Jessica Slavik, Chief Deputy Kevin Halweg, Columbus Deputy Jacob Bayer, and Columbus Deputy Eric Derner, paid a visit to the Columbus City Council meeting this week.

The team shared with the City Council their history with the force and their passion for supporting the citizens of Columbus. The Council asked what impact the recent culture change has had on the number of officers supporting Anoka County. They responded with some impact; however, it has not impacted the level of service they are able to provide the citizens. There was also talk about potential opportunities to collaborate on communications on our Web site.

Police protection for the City of Columbus is provided by contract through the Anoka County Sheriff's Office. In addition to Police coverage, the contract also includes a Code Enforcement Officer who handles complaints on code enforcement issues. 

The City of Columbus has contracted with Anoka County for 35 years and recently renewed the contract for another year.


 Vol. 1, Issue 12 - December 29, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Hegland.

Conduit Bonding Proposal

The City of Columbus contracts with a specialized law firm to facilitate its bonding activity. Blake School approached this law firm to inquire if Columbus was interested in issuing a conduit bond on their behalf.  Blake is a Minnesota nonprofit corporation and private school that has operated in Minnesota for more than 100 years and has three campuses.  The Blake School, like most educational institutions is not authorized to issue its own bonds, and the cities where it has campuses already have bonding initiatives scheduled for the upcoming year so cannot facilitate their conduit bonding request.  Blake is seeking the bonding opportunity to refinance previously issued conduit bonds and to finance the construction of an early learning center to be in Hopkins.  Our contract attorney asked if Columbus would be interested in fulfilling Blake’s request.

The city is authorized under IRS tax code to issue tax-exempt bonds as a conduit for the benefit of nonprofit entities, for the purpose of funding projects.  There is no financial obligation incurred by Columbus to pay the debt or other costs of the bonds and the full faith, credit and taxing powers of Columbus are not pledged to the payment of the debt. If Blake is not able to make payments, the holders of the conduit bond cannot require Columbus to levy a tax to make up the deficiency. Therefore, there is no financial risk to Columbus or to its residents.   Blake School is willing to pay Columbus a fee of $75,000 to facilitate the bonding.  The proceeds my be used to offset operational expenses of the city thereby reducing the amount levied to our residents.  The Council voted 4-1 to approve moving forward with the Blake School conduit bonding proposal (Councilmember Busch was not in favor).


Caribou Coffee Coming to Columbus

Caribou Coffee presented a site plan for approval to build a Caribou Cabin drive-through coffee shop in the northeast quadrant bordered by Hwy 97 and Hornsby St., across from the proposed HyVee site.  The Caribou Cabin concept has been a popular alternative to the larger Caribou coffee shop format that offers drive through and indoor seating.  Caribou launched this concept in 2019 in response to the public’s preference for using drive through options instead of walk-in or walk-up service.  The Caribou Cabin concept focuses on fast service, with a goal of 2 minutes from the time you order until the time you receive your order.  The menu for pastries and sandwiches is abbreviated and focused on those selections that can be prepared within that two-minute timeframe. 

The Cabin concept has a Northwoods cabin look and it just over 600 sq. feet in size.  There is no indoor access to the public.  There will be patio seating in the summertime and the drive through will be double laned and can accommodate 11 vehicles in line without spilling into the parking area.  There will also be a walk-up window.  It will be situated on ¾ acre lot that is currently owned by the City of Columbus.

The Council and the Planning Commission discussed in length that the building plan presented didn’t meet the building standards for that district, because the materials for the siding was James Hardie Board, while the code required 80% brick or better. The lighting fixtures on the side of the building, while decorative in nature, also may not been the current lighting ordinance requiring a cut off.  Caribou plans to return to the Planning Commission and Council with a variance request to address those discrepancies with the building standards in that Mixed Use District. The Council approved the site plan 4-1 contingent on Caribou obtaining approval for their building standard variance (Councilmember Logren was not in favor).


Sale of Hagert Park

A parcel of land located south of W. Broadway off an unimproved public right-of-way, informally named Volga Street was dedicated to the City by Elmer and Lorine Hagert in 1986.  This parcel was subject to a use restriction which allowed the property to only be used for “Park, park land, and open space purposes.”  The land was designated by the city as “Hagert Park” and was left unimproved since that time.  Under Minnesota law, such use restrictions cease to be valid 30 years after the date of the deed.  As more than 30 years had passed, the city explored its legal options of either selling or otherwise disposing of the property, subject to compliance with the City’s Comprehensive Plan, or to return the land to its original owners.  The City’s Park Board and staff recommended pursuing a land sale and the Planning Commission confirmed that the transaction would comply with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. title review, appraisal and a land survey were completed by the city.  A neighborhood meeting was held on March 9, 2021 to discuss the recommended sale with the neighboring property owners and with the remaining family of Elmer and Lorine Hagert.  The City Council met on October 13, 2021 to discuss the recommended land sale and directed staff to prepare an advertisement for bids from property owners sharing a boundary with the parcel, with bids to be opened at a public meeting, subsequently scheduled for December 29, 2021.

Three bids were received, one was disqualified because it did not meet the minimum bid.  The two remaining bids were considered and the highest bid submitted by Robert Allee was unanimously accepted in the amount of $80,000, subject to legal review and preparation of documents.


Camp 3 Road Results Workshop

Anoka County Highway Dept. will present the results of the Kettle River and Camp 3 Road intersection Temporary Road Closure study, summarizing the community feedback and survey analysis, at the January 11, 2022 Columbus City Council Workshop.  Nearby residents and businesses were notified by mail of the opportunity to attend and the meeting.  The Workshop was posted in the Forest Lake Times and will be open to the public either in person or via Zoom.


Planning Commission Appointments

Planning Commissioners Pam Wolowski’s and Barb Bobick’s Appointment ends December 31, 2021.

Commissioner Wolowski, a member of the Planning Commission since 2012, had submitted a letter indicating that she does not wish to be reappointed at this time. The Personnel Committee recognized the nine years of exceptional service that Commissioner Wolowski has provided the City of Columbus, gratefully acknowledged her leadership and commitment to the city and thanked her for the many years of service. She had served admirably during some very challenging years and has always kept the good of the community as her top priority. Staff will post this vacancy to be filled sometime in January 2022.

Commissioner Bobick has been a member of the Planning Commission since March, 2019 and has been recognized for the thoroughness of her review and reports.  She frequently takes extra time to dive deep into applications and provides additional valuable research that has been so helpful to Planning Commission discussions.  She submitted a letter indicating that she wishes to be reappointed for another three-year term.   The Council unanimously approved the reappointment of Commissioner Bobick to the Planning Commission for a three-year term ending December 31, 2024.


Commercial Kennel Moratorium

The City Council passed a resolution 4-1 (Councilmember Busch was not in favor) directing the City’s Planning Commission and staff to conduct a study of the City’s existing zoning controls and potential amendments to the regulation of Pet Boarding/Grooming and Training facilities, including appropriate permitting, licensing, land use controls and development standards that may need to be adopted or revised o protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.  The study will focus, among other things, on the regulations designed to minimize the nuisance characteristics of such uses, including protection of nearby residential homes, quiet enjoyment of neighbors and expansion of the city tax base.  The state authorizes the city to license such facilities and therefore a greater burden of oversight is placed on the city that had been unrecognized previously.  

An interim ordinance establishing a one-year moratorium on the issuance of permits for small animal indoor boarding/grooming/day care or training with the City of Columbus was passed 4-1 (Councilmember Busch was not in favor) to allow for the above study to be completed so that new businesses are not issued permits under rules that may be changed. 


 Vol. 1, Issue 11 - November 22, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Hegland.

Universal Services to Expand Business to Columbus

The City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit application for a new business that will be moving into the recently built, but never opened, CST Companies facility at 14045 Lake Dr. NE. CST Companies, a wholesaler and retailer of firewood, softener salt, stone, and mulch, as well as tree waste recycler, was scheduled to open for business in Spring 2021 but the owners sold the business before their grand opening. 

Universal Services, headquartered in Hastings, MN, with a northern office in Rogers, MN, is a turnkey contracting company offering an array of services from site surveys, estimating, directional drilling, aerial construction, internal cabling, fiber splicing, restoration and more. They pride themselves in offering a diversified portfolio of services with the convenience and efficiency of dealing with one primary service provider. They cater primarily to telecommunications/cell tower, electric, and water/sewer companies, as well as governmental units.  Universal Services currently installs over 3,000 job sites per year, which consist of partnerships with Fortune 100 companies down to small private entities.

Universal Services chose Columbus to expand their footprint and create new opportunities in this area. This location will house 45 staff members, most of whom will arrive and leave in a company vehicle to deliver product and service to their customers on a daily basis. Approximately 10-12 staff will work in the Lake Drive office to support business operations. Cable reels, small cell poles, palettized hardware, restoration materials, and vehicles/equipment will be stored on site, screened behind a solid decorative fence. The business operates Monday through Friday from 7am - 5pm, with rare evening and weekend hours necessitated by emergencies. 
We are excited to welcome Universal Services to Columbus’ Lake Drive Commercial/Industrial District!

Park Board Report

Mark Daly, Chair of Columbus’ Park Board, updated the Council on discussion from the November 16th Park Board meeting, where work continued on the new City Park Master Plan. He reported that the Park Board revised their plan for adding additional trees based on the Council’s direction to revisit the $16,000 budget request. The request was deemed too high considering their plan to replace the walking path in 5-8 years. Mr. Daly reported that the Board will submit a revised tree budget request, closer to $4,000, before the final City budget is adopted at the end of December.

EcoFun Groundbreaking

Mayor Jesse Preiner, Councilmember Janet Hegland and Planning Commissioner/EDA member Bob Berens attended the groundbreaking ceremony for EcoFun Motorsports on November 23rd. EcoFun, a motorized recreational vehicle retailer and service provider, is relocating from Forest Lake and building a beautiful 28,000 sq ft. facility that will include a vehicle showroom, service area, and warehouse space. The new facility is located next to Viking Industrial, on the north side of Lake Drive, just four hundred feet east of Zurich St. Weather permitting, they plan to be open for business in Spring 2022!



 Vol. 1, Issue 10 - November 10, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Logren.

Columbus Will Experience a Year-Long Moratorium on New Residential Business Permits

The Columbus City Council has approved a moratorium on new business permits in residential areas for up to one year.  Changing and tightening existing ordinances will address current and future complaints from the residential community regarding noise, increased traffic, odors, and visual anomalies. 

In the past, Columbus has enforced permits for businesses in residential areas to help neighboring properties enjoy their own residential experience. Columbus has been a Mecca for entrepreneurs with its rural nature and five-acre minimum rule.  In recent years there has been a rigorous examination of each business before the issuance of a permit, including stipulations that would eliminate nuisances for surrounding neighbors.  These included required housing for work equipment, stated hours of operation, acknowledgement of approximate increased traffic, and noise/odor restrictions.  This required a fee for two years with a renewal every five years thereafter. If there were no complaints, the permit was re-issued with little resistance.

In addition to reducing increased neighborhood complaints, the subject of taxation comes into play.  Businesses in the commercial district have a different tax rate than those in residential areas.  Individuals who dedicate part of their property to a commercial venture should have that portion of their property assessed accordingly.  For example, an outbuilding used to house commercial vehicles in a residential area should be assessed at the commercial rate. A modest increase in a total property tax bill will help offset the increased costs of business monitoring and the increased road use that accompanies a business.

The advent of COVID-19 has accelerated the need for tightening city ordinances in this area.  Increasingly, people are staying at home and finding new ways to support their families.  The future proposed changes in code IN NO WAY affect those who are working from home for a business established outside of the residential area or those who are engaged in home occupations.

Some questions to be answered in tightening regulations are: what constitutes a residential business, are some businesses regulated through another entity (ie: beauty shop ventures, food preparation), what level of traffic increases are reasonable, and what percentage of property is residential vs commercial.

Volunteers Respond to Rice Creek Watershed Board Opening

Columbus has three resident applicants that have volunteered to represent the community on the RCWD board.  Steve Wagamon (currently serving on the board), Tom Olson and Nick Carlson have offered their services and are a great example of Columbus residents willing to help in our community.  THANKS! 


 Vol. 1, Issue 9 - October 27, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Wagamon.

Lakes Center for Youth & Families (LC4YF) – Approval for a Premise Permit for Charitable Gambling

The City Council approved a premise permit for Lakes Center for Youth & Families to conduct charitable gambling at Running Aces Casino Hotel and Racetrack. LC4YF is a non-profit organization offering counseling, intervention, and enrichment programs to individuals young and old in Forest Lake and surrounding areas for over 45 years. Proceeds from charitable gambling support their counseling services which uses evidence-based approaches and therapy to treat a variety of conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and trauma-related disorders. Their enrichment program provides afterschool and summer programming to learn positive decision-making skills. Revenue sources to support their programs have changed over the years and they rely on individuals and corporations to support their programs.

 Waldoch Addition & Street Smart Rental

Following Planning Commission review and a Public Hearing on October 6, 2021, with public input, the City Council approved the preliminary plat for a new industrial park named “Waldoch Addition” planned in the Commercial/Industrial district on the west side of Lake Drive. The industrial park will include 7 lots with a new road entering from Lake Drive and will be named “137th Avenue.” A right turn lane will be added to the southbound side of Lake Drive to enter 137th. A bypass lane will be added to the northbound side of Lake Drive to accommodate for left turns onto 137th.

The City Council also approved a Conditional Use Permit for GM Columbus, LLC to allow construction of a contractor shop office/warehouse for Street Smart Rental in lot #4 of the industrial park. Street Smart Rental is a national sales and rental business for traffic safety equipment currently located in Lino Lakes. Street Smart Rental, who have been in business since 1999, will be relocating their current headquarters from Lino Lakes to the Waldoch Addition industrial park. Welcome Street Smart to the neighborhood!


Residential Zoned Businesses – Ordinance 7A-806 Reviewal – Continued

The City Council continued discussions regarding non-standard requests for Interim Use Permits (IUPs) for home-based businesses and the potential moratorium that is being considered to allow new businesses in residential areas until the grey areas can be defined. The City Council is taking the moratorium into consideration in order to balance potential new businesses and city staff focus on the revision of city ordinance updates. The Council requested revisions to the moratorium that would allow more flexibility for the citizens, along with consideration of city staff time for further discussion at the next Council meeting.

Assistant to City Administrator – Offer Approved

The 2021 budget allowed for the hiring of an Assistant to the City Administrator, which has come to fruition over the last several weeks. Careful consideration of what this new position would entail took some time to establish. The City was looking for someone who is an effective communicator, strategic and results oriented. The job description required 5 years of administrative/analytical experience within a governmental unit, along with skills in technology, decision-making, and service oriented. The current Columbus Public Communications Coordinator, Jessica Hughes, applied for the position and the Council approved to extend an offer to her. Jessica has been with the City of Columbus since 2016 and has been an asset to the city. Jessica’s unique combination of skills and educational background will greatly benefit the city. Once the offer is accepted, the vacant Public Communications Coordinator position will be posted. Congratulations Jessica!


 Vol. 1, Issue 8 - October 13, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Members Logren and Hegland.

Running Aces to Improve Signage off I-35

The addition of a hotel to the Running Aces business during the difficult economic challenge of COVID-19 has prompted the need for bigger and better signage along the I-35 corridor.

Running Aces has been an important supporter of Columbus for 13 years. The existing 65-foot-high sign is now being visually encroached upon by neighboring trees. Surrounding billboards compete for traffic attention from motorists on the highway, many of those seeking entertainment at the popular venue. Existing elevations and the facility’s distance from the highway require better visibility of a sign to direct visitors.

Running Aces will be constructing an improved sign that will measure 80 feet tall, with top of the LED feature measuring 58 feet in height. EMI Signs hired by Running Aces has done extensive research to assure the community that the lights on the sign will be directed at traffic with minimum impact on the rest of the community. The sign will also be utilized to broadcast Amber Alerts and other public service and safety messaging.

Residential Zoned Businesses – Ordinance 7A-806 Reviewal

City Staff has noticed an increase in non-standard requests for Interim Use Permits (IUP’s) regarding home-based businesses and with complaints about businesses operating in residential zoned areas of the city. The pandemic has inspired many people to work from home or create businesses operating from their residence. If a residential zoned business does not alter the nature of the neighborhood with odors, noise, bright lighting, clutter, or traffic it is not considered a nuisance. In areas where there is ample room between properties, adequate trees and/or fencing, and storage buildings to shield the public from the on-going business there are few complaints from the neighbors. It becomes problematic in more intimate neighborhoods where the home-based business is evident or with businesses that are better suited to operate in commercial district.

It is important to distinguish between a residential zoned business and a home occupation business, where residents are allowed to utilize up to 20% of their home for a home office and do not have outside employees. Similarly, working remotely from home for your employer has not been considered a problem and is usually invisible to neighbors. Residential zoned businesses typically operate out of accessory buildings such as a pole barn or garage and/or utilize a larger percentage of the residence to house the business.

The current city ordinances (7 A-806) on residential zoned businesses have not kept up with this evolving home-based business concept. As an example, the non-standard request for food truck storage and or preparation of food for said truck does not easily fit into previous parameters. In addition, new parameters on what qualifies as a cottage industry has been issued by The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and need to be considered in the city ordinance updates. (See MDA notice at Columbus site 10-13-21 City Council Meeting Agenda packet 1, pages 75-77).

A moratorium is being considered by the council on allowing new businesses in residential areas until these grey areas can be defined and dealt with in the Ordinance 7A-806 and providing adequate time to allow for thoughtful consideration and input of these evolving trends and regulations.

Ongoing Efforts to Improve Internet Connections in Columbus

The City Council and Staff have focused on leveraging grant opportunities to improve high speed internet access in the City of Columbus. Last year, Federal CARES Act funding was used to upgrade a neighborhood of just under 50 homes with access to high-speed internet. This year 16 more homes were added to that neighborhood with grant money Midco received. The City has been allocated federal ARPA funds this year and the Council committed most of it ($300,000) to broadband expansion. We leveraged those dollars with matching funds from Anoka County ARPA funds resulting in a total of $600,000 committed for broadband expansion over the next two years. The total number of homes that will have enhanced access is still being negotiated but will number over 200. NO LOCAL TAX dollars were levied for either expansion. We are engaging multiple Internet providers to assist our community, using their grant money as it becomes available. We are also pursuing the future possibility of Federal money directed to Columbus to improve infrastructure. The parameters used to determine where the monies will be used to expand access are predicated on providing access to unserved or underserved (by Federal definition of speed) areas, serving the most homes for dollars spent, and where the Internet Providers are willing to expand their services.

Fall Fest Future

As we all know, Fall Fest was cancelled for the last two years due to the pandemic. In the past, the Lions Club organization has contributed much of the effort involved in organizing and providing food/activity options, along with volunteers from the Senior Center and the local Elementary school organization. These entities supported the Fall Fest as a fundraising opportunity to benefit their respective endeavors. In addition, the car show and demonstrations from local law enforcement, fire protection and the boy scouts occurred based on invitations from the city. Volunteer contributions funded the pie/ice cream social and petting zoo. The city contributed tax dollars for the organizational meetings, setting up of the site, on-site sanitation stations, traffic control and clean-up.

Discussions are now being held to determine if the Fall Fest should continue in its present format. A renewed focus on community building and outreach has been discussed. Seminars on septic maintenance and Arbor Day demonstrations/raffles are examples of community gatherings in the past that spoke to our needs and interests. A combining of educational and community building activities on a chosen day PLUS the fundraising efforts from various entities might provide a better balance and increase interest from the community. Citizens could be informed about our local businesses to support and businesses could be encouraged to fund some activities at the event. Educational booths could be set up from local services (University of Minnesota, Carlos Avery, Anoka County Extension, Water Management Organizations, etc.) addressing septic maintenance, tree care, well considerations, livestock questions, gardening around wildlife, noxious weed control, and/or poisonous plants in the area.

Other cities have successfully hosted community events that are supported by a large group of volunteers. That is what is needed to bring a community building event to fruition in Columbus. The question is: do we have enough volunteers who want a Fall Fest or an annual community event that will reflect the unique nature of Columbus or do we want to continue to enjoy a small celebration that has a few entities’ fundraising at its core? If we want the former, we need sincere, dedicated volunteers that will be responsible for the planning and execution of the various functions of the celebration.  Stay tuned for more on this topic and potential opportunities to volunteer!


 Vol. 1, Issue 7 - September 22, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Wagamon.

St. Clair Lakes Final Plat & Development Agreement

An application for a Final Plat approval to allow on a twenty-one (21) lot development for market rate detached single family dwellings development to proceed was approved by the City Council on September 27th. The developer, St Clair Terrain Company, has indicated that they would like to begin construction of a model home as soon as this year. The name of the new development is St. Clair Lakes, and will be located just south of Howard Lake and north of Lake Drive, off the recently extended Zurich Street. The development will be served with public water and sewer and receive it’s access from a private drive. City staff have worked diligently with the developer over the last couple years throughout the process of land purchase, permits, contracts, and preliminary & final plat. We are very excited all their hard work has come to fruition!


Johns Black Dirt Wetland Bank

The multi-year wetland mitigation project for Johns Black Dirt is complete. In 2012, a local mining company had a wetland mitigation plan approved to mitigate the disturbance the business had on the wetlands on the property. Once their mining operation had ceased in 2018, the company began taking steps to execute the mitigation plan. Final Site restoration was completed in 2018. The final restoration resulted in the creation of 80,570 square feet of wetlands. In September of 2021, representatives from Anoka Conservation District, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, and wetland consultants with the City of Columbus, acting as the Local Government Unit for the Sunrise River Water Management Organization, conducted a final review and determined that the mitigation area is intact with no erosion issues and has been appropriately plants with wetland seed. The City Council approved this final decision presented by the wetland professionals.


Sandberg Driveway

The City Council, acting as the Local Government Unit for the Sunrise River Water Management Organization, voted and approved a wetland replacement plan for a property owner in northwestern Columbus. The Property owner was proposing to impact 0.2122 acres of wetland to construct a driveway to City Standards that would access the Property Owner’s proposed single-family dwelling. The Property had approximately two upland areas in which to build on, however, the upland area that did not require any impacts to wetlands was too small and constrained by setback requirements to accommodate the proposed build. The replacement of wetlands will be through a banking system, with the Property owner purchasing 0.4244 wetland banking credit.


Forest Lake Cable Commission (FLCC) Budget Approved

Paul Peterson, FLCC Access Coordinator, presented the Forest Lake Cable Commission 2022 budget, which the City Council approved. Lakes Area Community Television (LATV) serves as the area’s public access television station providing communication and entertainment choices for the communities of Columbus and Forest Lake. Forest Lake and Columbus have established the 4-member Forest Lake Cable Commission (FLCC) that sets policy for the station. LATV covers Forest Lake area sporting events, City Council meetings, and special events. LATV partnered with Forest Lake Area High School and Forest Lake Police Department to produce a short film called “Mock Car Crash – 2021.” The film depicts how the combination of high school students, partying, and vehicles can turn into a tragic situation. It’s a must see! Go to Lakes Area TV - Home (

2022 Preliminary Levy

The City Council has held meetings over the last several weeks to determine the 2022 preliminary levy for the 2022 City Budget.  As a new Council Member, it was a great learning experience in understanding everything that needs to be factored into the final numbers. There is much more to the equation than personnel, services, equipment, and supplies. I believe that myself, along with all council members, took a serious conservative approach in looking at all aspects of the budget, from the cost of inflation and balancing the needs of a growing city.  The City Council voted on the 2022 levy with a relatively flat tax rate (2022 = 48.34%) compared to last year (2021 = 48.28%). The final tax levy for 2022 will be voted on at the City Council meeting on December 8, 2021. There will be a public open forum for Columbus residents and property owners to comment on the 2022 Budget and Levy during that City Council meeting.


 Vol. 1, Issue 6 - September 8, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Busch.

Columbus EDA Meeting 9-8-21

The Columbus EDA met on 9-8-21 prior to the City Council meeting.  As a group we discussed our list of goals we would like to obtain. The goals were as follows: 

  • Addressing fiscal disparities legislation,
  • New messages on City billboards,
  • Concept plans for NW and SW I-35 quadrants in our freeway district,
  • Plantings in the roundabout at Kettle River Blvd. and Broadway Avenue,
  • Landscaping at the new Lake Drive roundabout,
  • Attracting new businesses to Columbus and how to retain current businesses,

o   After the pandemic subsides, we plan to visit businesses to show appreciation and gather feedback,

  • In 2022 we look to continue our ColumBiz event, time and date TBD.


City Council Meeting 9-8-21

The majority of our City Council workshop and regular meeting on 9-8-21 was spent talking about our city budgets – weighing what the residents need to keep Columbus a fun, safe, and inviting place to live, play, and grow. Many factors have come into play with lengthy conversations on whether to decrease police staff, add extra code enforcement through our sub-contractor MNSPECT, reinstating the tree board, as well as allotting funding for Arbor Day and Fall Fest.


 Vol. 1, Issue 5 - August 25, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Logren

Improving Internet Connectivity in Columbus

Internet service has been increasingly important to all of us.  Working from home because of COVID-19 demands and the salability of our properties in a competitive world are only two of the reasons we desire and need better internet service.

Internet service in Columbus is generally poor and inconsistent. In the past, internet providers have given our community wide berth because it has been insufficiently profitable to solicit in our area. This was due to our five-acre minimum lot size and an abundance of wetlands. It was simply too expensive to run cable for long distances between residences.

One option was to pay for connections ourselves through coordination of neighbors. This method was expensive and difficult to coordinate even if a provider and the neighborhood was willing to participate. Recently, through City efforts, we have been able to procure government funds to encourage internet providers to infiltrate parts of our City. Requesting substantial ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds from Anoka County and contributing ARPA funds received by the City has enabled us to contract to connect 196 homes to high-speed internet in Columbus through Midco. CenturyLink/Lumen has also expressed interest in working with us on other parts of the City. We have all seen the federal infrastructure bills being introduced which may provide more funds in the near future to increase availability of improved internet service in other parts of Columbus. Incrementally, we will achieve our goal of universal connectivity.

There is an interesting sidelight to our efforts.  Suggestions from Columbus City Councilmember Janet Hegland influenced Anoka County to use previously undedicated ARPA funds in Columbus and surrounding communities to improve internet availability. Her request encouraged Anoka County to direct county ARPA funds in a specific direction to benefit us all.

Thanks Janet! 


Improving City Communications

Having City announcements sent to your e-mail has been available for several years. Originally it was designed to alert you to what was submitted as an official notice in the local paper. As we all know, newspapers are falling out of use and e-mail became an inexpensive way to inform citizens of City business that might affect their lives. Every time we sent a notice through the U.S. mail it costs the City (and you, through your taxes) approximately $1,500. Recently, changes in privacy laws have made it possible to send you many types of communication without sharing your e-mail address with others.

We encourage you to follow the link on the Columbus City home page to update or sign up for e-mail communications. We are all too busy to attend every Planning Commission or Council meeting.  Circumvent meeting attendance by receiving e-mail updates. The old saying “Vote or give up your right to complain” is becoming more poignant in these trying times. It could also be said to “Be informed or give up your right to complain.”  Please consider providing your e-mail address, and if you have already done so, still update your preferences on what you wish to receive.   Go to “Register for Email Updates” on the City's website, and choose what type of communications you would like to receive. Be sure to respond to the e-mail you receive requesting that you VALIDATE your e-mail, or changes/additions will not occur.  If you encounter problems with registering or receiving your e-mail notices, please call the City Offices at 651-419-9014.

Budgets, Budgets, Budgets 

The City Council and Staff are having budget meetings now and through the Fall. Just as you must budget for everyday expenses and save for future expenses, so does the City of Columbus. Our City Administrator, Elizabeth Mursko, guides the City Council in separating the wants and needs of Columbus which is not an easy task with members of the Council changing every four years.  Newbies learn the state-mandated costs and regulations while all members grapple with decisions made in the past by other administrations.  All decisions are open to public scrutiny.  This is where you will discover where your tax dollars are spent on the local level.

We all know that police protection (in our case the Anoka Sheriff) and fire protection are necessary expenditures but a large cost comes in the form of road maintenance. Maintaining 66 miles of asphalt and gravel for a community of 1,500 households is a challenge to say the least. Equipment, maintenance of that equipment, manpower for snowplowing, salt distribution, patching, resurfacing, grading, calcium chloride application, mowing, and roundabout maintenance cost more every year. This is a short explanation of a portion of the expenditures that are reviewed annually. All budget meetings, also billed as special meetings, are announced on the City's website. Notifications can also be sent to your e-mail address.  You are welcome to attend but these meetings are not interactive with the citizens until a public hearing is held for the final budget. 


 Vol. 1, Issue 4 - August 11, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Busch.

Camp 3 Road Temporary Closure

After multiple discussions with Anoka County the City Council has approved a temporary closure of Camp 3 Coad at the intersection east of Kettle River Blvd. The County had recently presented crash data from the intersection that has led to this. The temporary closure would not likely happen until fall. There will be public interaction and mailings sent out to inform the area's residents about this taking place. The temporary closure would direct traffic to the south intersection of Kettle River Blvd. and Lake Drive. At this point it would only be a temporary measure to collect traffic data and study traffic trends.

Continuation of Community Center Closure

Due to increased infection rates and the delta variant strain of COVID-19 the Council voted that the community center will remain closed through January of 2022. If rates of COVID-19 transmission subside the council will revisit the matter before January 2022 to see if it may be possible to open the community center for the Lions pancake breakfast fundraisers as well as the senior's meetings.

2020 Financial Books Audit

The Council voted to accept the audit report after a presentation by Andy Hering of RedPath.


EDA Presentation by Anoka County EDA and Connexus Energy

Samantha Markman of Anoka County Economic Development presented collaboration opportunities  as well as target industries in our areas of development. Bruce Saylor of Connexus EDA spoke of marketing the Minnesota Technology Corridorwhich includes parts of Columbus where they could help attract data centers etc.

 Vol. 1, Issue 3 - July 28, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Hegland.

Recreational Supply Corp. Expands Business

Recreational Supply Corporation (RSC), an aluminum and steel trailer distributor that serves the immediate five state area, has operated in Columbus’ freeway district since 1996.  The owners recently approached the City with plans to expand their business to increase trailer assembly capacity and efficiency.  The company primarily serves powersports and boat dealers (boat, ATC, motorcycle, snowmobile retailers) and also carries open and closed utility trailers.  RSC is committed to providing unmatched service not only to dealers, but also to the retail customer.  

Their expansion includes a large addition (3,360 sq. ft) to the current building’s footprint, increasing the size to just over 10,000 square feet of warehouse/storage, assembly, and office space.  The expansion will also increase their staff to twelve employees.  The current Hornsby Street access driveway will be moved to the south and an additional exit and gate will be installed onto 152nd Ave.  A small display area of finished product will highlight seasonal trailer lines and newly introduced models.  RSC has been a valued Columbus business for 25 years and the Council was pleased to approve their permit to expand.  Construction will begin Spring 2022.

Muddy Paws Daycare, Boarding, and Grooming to Change Ownership

Muddy Paws opened its doors at 15120 W. Freeway Drive in June 2012, to provide a home away from home for pups of all shapes and sizes while mom and dad are away.  The current owners operate a Muddy Paws facility in both Columbus and Andover and are in the process of selling the Columbus location to a long-time Muddy Paws employee.  Dog daycare, boarding and grooming will remain the core business focus, and an expansion of pet retail offerings, a change of the exterior color and signage and a sprucing up on the interior aesthetic to create a more welcoming environment for the dogs and their owners was proposed. 

Future plans may include adding cat boarding services and partnering with other Columbus businesses to offer pet care services to compliment their core business.  Earlier this Spring, the Council approved a zoning change to include small animal boarding, daycare and grooming as a conditional use in this area of the city and recently approved a text amendment to the current code to allow for this business to operate under a Conditional Use Permit as a bridge until the new zoning ordinance is adopted sometime later this year.  With that administrative step taken and with review of the application, the Council approved Muddy Paws’ Conditional Use Permit at the July 28th meeting, paving the way for the transfer of ownership.  We welcome the new owners to Columbus!

Clear Channel Outdoor, LLC Billboard Upgrade

Due to concern regarding the number and appearance of billboards along the I35 freeway leading into Columbus, a moratorium on Billboards was established through the end of 2020 to research and review the current standards and specifications for billboards in the City of Columbus.  To balance property owner’s interest in leasing land to billboard companies with maintaining a visually pleasing appeal at the freeway gateway to Columbus, the City Council amended its Billboard ordinances to include:

            • the requirement for column support improvements,
            • decreasing the length of an approved Interim Use Permit (IUP) from 20 years to 10 years,
            • increasing the spacing between billboards, and
            • creating a sunset date for all billboards approved via IUP.

As a result, Clear Channel Outdoor, LLC, removed 11 billboards from the freeway corridor and submitted for review and approval, four IUP applications for seven of the twelve remaining billboards that had IUPs due for renewal. The new billboard column enclosures consist of a six-foot wide by twelve-foot-high base, constructed of a steel frame surround by a cultured stone veneer. On top of the base there is to be four-feet wide by fifteen-feet-high stucco panels set in a steel frame. In addition, a “Columbus” sign in an oval metal pan style, with the color and font to match the new Columbus bridge, will be affixed to the stucco panels. The Council approved all four IUPs at their July 28th meeting.


 Vol. 1, Issue 2 - July 14, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Wagamon.

2021 Recycling Program Update

The City Council approved a larger single-sort recycling receptacle at City Hall for all residents to use.  Due to the increase in cardboard collections the City staff explored the option of a “cardboard only” dumpster on the premises. After further review they determined that a larger single-sort receptacle would not increase our current cost. The receptacle will be placed along the fence next to the organics collection.
Reminder of upcoming recycling events:

  • Bicycle Collection Event on September 8, 2021 from 8am – 5pm
  • Recycling Drop Off Event on September 11, 2021 from 9am – 1pm
  • Free Fix-It Clinic on December 4, 2021 from 10am – 1pm

Questions? Contact us at:   651-464-3120 x1010

Speed Limit Policy

Speed limits are designed to enhance safety, and safety is a high priority for City Staff and Council. The City Council reviewed and approved a proposal from the City Engineer partner Bolton & Menk to establish guidelines for setting speed limits on City streets. Speed limit data, traffic volumes, crash data, and adjacent land use will inform the development of a Speed Limit Policy. The policy will identify changes to City street speed limits using a consistent approach that is data driven.

Outfront Media LLC Billboard Upgrades in I-35 Corridor

Outfront Media LLC currently owns and operates 5 billboards in the City of Columbus. Two of the 5 have been in place for 20 years and have come up for permit renewal. The City Council approved a new Interim Use Permit that will reflect amended requirements in the City Code. The billboards will be updated with a stone column covering and a Columbus logo sign.


 Vol. 1, Issue 1 - June 23, 2021

This edition is provided by Council Member Hegland.

Moody's Upgrades City of Columbus Bond Rating 

The City Council passed a resolution at the 06.23.21 Council meeting, awarding the sale of a General Obligation Street Reconstruction Bond that will be used to finance the reconstruction of Hornsby Street South and to refinance prior bonds at a more favorable interest rate, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the bond. On June 4, 2021, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the city's general obligation unlimited tax rating to Aa3 from A1. Moody’s noted the City’s credit strengths of robust operating reserves and liquidity; growth tax base; and above average resident wealth and income profile. The City’s financial advisor, Northland Securities, communicated to the City Council that in these uncertain financial times rating agencies have been hesitant to upgrade municipal bond ratings, so it is a strong statement of confidence in Columbus’ creditworthiness to receive this upgrade! It also meant receiving a very favorable interest rate, significantly lower than what was planned, resulting in savings to our taxpayers.

EcoFun Motor Sports to Relocate to Columbus 

Since 2008, Ecofun Motor Sports has been selling and servicing motorized recreational vehicles, steadily growing their business while earning a reputation for saving their customers money (Eco); and adding some fun into people's daily lives (fun). On June 23, 2021, a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Ecofun Motorsports, currently located on Lake Street in Forest Lake, was approved to build and operate a new facility next to Viking Industrial on the north side of Lake Drive, just 400 feet east of Zurich St.  Ecofun currently sells scooters, mopeds, ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, electric bicycles and side by sides. The proposed facility will be approximately 28,000 sq. ft and will include a vehicle showroom area, service area and warehouse space. Their design includes room for future expansion.  Construction of their beautifully designed building is planned to begin yet this season. Ecofun is excited to relocate to Columbus, having outgrown its existing space in Forest Lake, and we are excited to welcome this family owned and operated business to our community!

City View Electric, Inc. to Expand Business

 Since 1986, City View Electric, Inc. has provided a wide range of electrical services for the greater Midwest region, including design build, plan
 and spec, renovations, tenant improvements, maintenance, and low voltage technology. City View Electric will  soon be expanding its services to include assembly and installation of security shades, used to protect property from vandalism and theft.  A new 21,000 square foot building will be added to the City View Electric campus, located at 14309 Lake Drive, NE., to house this new business venture.  The building exterior will match existing building finish colors and will include office space, a reception area, warehouse and assembly.  The City Council approved a Preliminary/Final Plat to add 18.5 acres to the City View campus and a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to construct the building and operate the new security screen business.  City View has been a valued anchor business on Lake Drive and we welcome the planned expansion to their portfolio of services!