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St. James City Council puts a plan in place for Mayberry Hills, Sturm addresses community

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At the last St. James City Council meeting approved resolutions for setting the 2021 budget and property tax levy. At the conclusion of the meeting, St. James Mayor Gary Sturm provided a community address.

The budget for next year is $15,900,771.72 and the property tax will be a .3% decrease from 2020 at $1.292,284.91.

The council also established an incentive program for the Mayberry Hills neighborhood.  There are currently still 12 lots left available in the neighborhood. 

The new resolution states that "small lots will be marketed at a price of $10,000 and buyers will be given 18 months to complete their home... Spec homes may also be built on the smaller lots in blocks one and two with contractor paying $10,000 for the lot at the time of the spec home."

Contractors will be given two years to build and sell the homes. Those who purchase a lot and build a house can opt to pay the $10,000 over the course of five years.

"There are still quite a few lots available and we want to do a comprehensive marketing plan," said EDA Director Andrea Gehrke. 

Following the council meeting, St. James Mayor Gary Sturm provided a community update and recap of 2020.

Sturm noted new businesses in the area including Sharpline Inc., the reconstruction of the Polo's Building, as the subsequent move of the Gem Den into the building, the Cedel Store, Golf-Mor LLC., Meraki Beauty Studio. Sturm noted that as of now there is no interest in the vacant Downs Food Group building and that an agreement for the former Shopko building was in agreement with Dollar General.

Sturm's address featured other community highlights, such as the hiring of Andrea Gehkre as the new EDA Director, the Christmas lights in Memorial Park project, the Good Neighbor Award, Smithfield Foods' $1,000,000 expansion, and the retirement of LeeAnn Nibbe.

Looking ahead to 2021, St. James will have two large projects in the 11th Street North project beginning in the spring which will allow for a new concrete street, sanitary sewer, water main storm sewer, along with installing sidewalks. The other major project is the airport project.

The city of St. James received $342,421 in CARES Funding and contributed $143,018.25 which helped establish a county-wide small business grant program that helped 37 businesses and 22 non-profits in St. James and a total of 116 county-wide.

Sturm thanked city council members Ray Hahnfeldt Jr. and Don Mackey who would not be returning to the council in 2021.

Sturm closed his remarks with an address on the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We continue to see a lot of challenges and a lot of changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Sturm. "We need to be optimistic, we need to be proactive, and we need to move forward as the vaccine was found and started shipping out yesterday so there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

Other items:

- Establish annual polling place- MN National Guard Armory

- Accept community donations

- Authoring certification of certain delinquent accounts

- Surplus Property and Ordering Sale

- Purchase of pole camera- 2021 budgeted item

- License Renewals

- Approve LELS Labor Agreement