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Rochester, Minnesota

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Rochester is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Olmsted County. Located on both banks of the Zumbro River, it is perhaps best known as the home of Mayo Clinic (giving rise to the city's nickname, "Med City") and is also home to a major IBM facility. The city has a population of 106,769 according to the 2010 United States Census, making it Minnesota's third-largest city and the largest outside of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area.[1]

Website evaluation

Last rated on Jan. 31, 2012

The good

  • Current and past budgets are posted.[2]
  • City Council meetings and agendas posted[3]
  • Elected officials listed with contact information.[4]
  • Administrative officials are listed with contact information[5]
  • Provides information on planning and zoning[6]
  • Provides licenses and permits[7]
  • Provides information on economic development[8]
  • Audits are posted[9]
  • Provides information on contracts and bids[10]
  • Provides information on local taxes[11]

The bad

City Council

The City Council is comprised of 7 elected officials who govern the issues related to the City of Rochester. The Council President is elected by all citizens in the City of Rochester. The six Council members are elected by the citizens of each ward that they represent.[12]

Current City Council members:[13]

Name Ward
Dennis Hanson Council President
Ed Hruska 1st Ward
Michael Wojcik 2nd Ward
Bruce Snyder 3rd Ward
Mark Bilderback 4th Ward
Randy Staver 5th Ward
Sandra Means 6th Ward

Mayor

Mayor Ardell Brede became Mayor of Rochester Minnesota on January 6th, 2003. Prior to being elected, Mayor Brede held numerous positions at the Rochester Methodist Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic of Rochester.[14]

City Administration

The City Administrator:[15]

  • Coordinates the operations of City government and Its departments
  • Carries out the policies adopted by the Common Council and the Mayor
  • Recommends the appointment and removal of department heads
  • Recommends measures for administrative efficiency and the safety and welfare of the City residents
  • Prepares and submits the annual budget to the Common Council
  • Prepares all council agendas and handles Council correspondence
  • Carries out the economic development function and activities of the City

The City Administrator is Steven Kvenvold.[16]

Budget

2011 Proposed Budget -- Analysis of Major Revenues

2011 Budget 2010 Budget Increase/(Decrease)
Tax Levy & Tax
Abatements
45,967,888 44,272,624 1,695,264
Local Government Aid 5,101,571 5,101,571 -0-
Hotel/Motel Tax 3,500,000 3,250,000 250,000
Cable TV Franchise Fee 1,275,000 1,300,000 (25,000)
Inspection Permits 2,020,000 1,885,000 135,000
In Lieu of Tax 10,845,623 10,755,268 90,355
Sewer Utility Charge 17,261,577 15,820,000 1,441,577
Storm Water Utility Fee 5,014,143 4,432,372 581,771
Library Fund
-City Share
-County Share

4,893,321
948,696

4,802,357
894,168

90,964
54,528
Municipal Recreation Fund
-Fee Revenues
-Non-Fee Revenues

7,376,732
6,330,899

7,124,995
5,787,986

251,737
542,913
Parking Fund
-Parking Fines
-Parking Ramps
-Street Meters
-Parking Lots

531,624
3,469,696
885,682
394,323

525,000
3,189,070
790,000
342,019

6624
280,626
95,682
52,304

Public Employee Salaries

Minnesota state law - Chapter 156 of the Session Laws of 2005 - requires that "a city or county with a population of more than 15,000 must annually notify its residents of the positions and base salaries of its three highest-paid employees."[17]

For City of Rochester, titles and salaries as of January 14, 2010 are:[17]

  • City Administrator - $154,569
  • General Manager/RPU - $154,422 (includes car allowance)
  • Director of Public Works - $150,065

Taxes

If you live in Rochester and buy a taxable item for your own use without paying sales tax, you then probably owe a 6.875% State sales tax and a .5% local Rochester sales tax. The tax rate is the same for both sales and use tax, and the same exemptions apply.[11]

Here are some cases when use tax is due:[11]

  • You buy taxable items by mail order, from a shopping channel, over the Internet, etc., and the seller doesn’t collect Minnesota tax from you.
  • You buy something exempt intending to resell it in your business, but instead take it out of inventory for business or personal use.
  • A seller in another state or country does not collect any sales tax from you on a sale of an item that is taxed by Minnesota’s law.
  • A Minnesota seller fails to collect state or Rochester sales tax from you on a taxable item.
  • An out-of-state seller properly collects another state’s sales tax at a rate lower than Minnesota’s. In this case, you owe the difference between the two rates, plus Rochester's local sales tax.

Individuals as well as businesses owe use tax on taxable purchases when they have not paid sales tax. An individual, however, can purchase up to $770 in taxable items for personal use without owing use tax. If the individual buys more than $770 in a calendar year, that person owes use tax on all taxable items purchased that year. This exemption does not apply to purchases from a seller who is required to collect Minnesota sales or use tax and does not.[11]

Lobbying

Main article: Minnesota government sector lobbying

Rochester has spent the following on government sector lobbying from 2005-2009. This includes both contracts with lobbyists and membership in government sector lobbying associations:

Year Amount
2009 $106,177.00
2008 $210,848
2007 $195,793
2006 $194,339
2005 $180,005

Data obtained from Minnesota State Auditor Lobbying Reports

Emergency Services

Fire Department

Service areas provided by the Rochester Fire Department:[18]
Rescue[18]

  • Rochester Fire provides emergency vehicle extrication, structural collapse, confined space, high angle, water, ice and agricultural accident rescue services. Rochester Fire Department staffs a Regional Structural Collapse Rescue Team provided by MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM). This team is available to respond regionally to assist other jurisdictions with structural collapse incidents resulting from flooding, tornado, terrioristic acts, etc.

EMS[18]

  • Rochester firefighters are certified Emergency Medical Technicians-Basic level and act as first responders to medical emergencies in conjunction with police and ambulance. Rochester fire fighters respond to more than 5000 emergency medical calls each year ranging from vehicle crashes and cardiac arrests to falls and other medical related conditions. Every first line fire vehicle is equipped with an automatic electronic defibrillator (AED), which has greatly improving the survival rate for victims of a witnessed cardiac arrest within the city of Rochester.

Hazardous Materials[18]

  • Rochester has been designated a State Regional Chemical Assessment Team (CAT) and as such may be dispatched to hazardous material incidents anywhere in southeastern Minnesota. All members of the department are certified to the Haz-Mat Technician level and all company officers to the Specialist level.

Code Enforcement[18]

  • Rochester Fire provides a full range of fire prevention services including inspection and plan review of new and existing building construction as well as fire protection systems and equipment. Fire Department Fire Prevention staff work hand in hand with other city and private agencies to achieve a high level of code enforcement and inspection services for the community's fire and life safety.

Fire Investigation[18]

  • Rochester Fire Prevention staff provide full fire origin and cause investigation services. All fires of unknown, suspicious or incendiary origin are investigated and arson fires are actively pursued and prosecuted.

Public Safety Education[18]

  • Rochester Fire Department makes use of a mobile Fire Safety House and the Official NFPA "Sparky Fire Dog" character to deliver fire and life safety messages. Classes are taught by firefighters in schools, at fairs, block parties, and other community events, with emphasis directed toward children and youth.

The fire department website provides daily incident reports[19] as well as annual incident reports between 2006 and 2009.[20]

Police Department

The Rochester Police Department has 130.5 sworn officers, supported by 57 non-sworn members and an annual budget of approximately $18.9 million. The department provides a full range of patrol and investigative services: its records management services also assist the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. The Communications Center, staffed by non-sworn personnel under non-sworn management, serves the police and sheriff's office as well as the Rochester Fire Department and several small rural fire and first responder organizations. The Department enjoys the support of an active body of citizen volunteers.[21]

With the total commitment of city officials and the citizens of the city, the Department is deeply engaged in Community/Problem Oriented Policing activities. The Department continues to work in close collaboration with the school district in providing a Police/School Liaison Program.[21]

Title Positions
Police Chief 1
Deputy Chief 0
Captains 3
Lieutenants 9
Sergeants 23
Patrol Officers 97.5
Full-Time Sworn 130.5
Non-Sworn 58
Total Employees 191.5

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References