Happy Solstice and welcome to Winter

Sunset – Cherokee Park

There will be 8:46:13 between sunrise and sunset here in the frozen northland where the days are short and the nights are long.

We will gain two seconds of daylight tomorrow as we start moving toward the longest day of the year with 15:36:49 between sunrise and sunset.

I think we were meant to hibernate this time of year but instead, our ancestors invented winter festivals and religious holidays to keep us extra busy.

It is time to get the shovel out

I walk a lot. I even walk outside when it is cold out. Weird I know but I have my reasons.

I was surprised when I walked to the grocery store last week and the sidewalk was covered with snow and ice, days after it had snowed. Some of the snow became ice after freezing and thawing a few times.

In fact, only about half of the properties along the way had snow-free sidewalks.

Saint Paul City Ordinance requires snow and ice to be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours; read Chapter 113and Chapter 114 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code for more information.

The city web site even has a “how to” section for people who do not know how to properly remove the snow from the walk.

There is also a  printable door hanger to take with you on your next walk. Leave the door hanger as a reminder to neighbors to keep their sidewalks clear.

To report a sidewalk that’s a safety hazard and needs shoveling, contact the Department of Safety and Inspections at 651-266-8989. 

The city will have the snow removed and send the bill to the property owner.

It is important to remember that the snow removal ordinance applies to property owned by businesses, rental property, condominiums, and townhouses and the sidewalks in front of vacant houses.

Please be a good neighbor and keep your sidewalk safe and free of snow and ice. If your neighbor can not shovel and you can shovel their walk too.

There are so many opportunities on small business Saturday

Brick commercial buildings on west 7th street
Businesses on West 7th

I am not much of a shopper but today is small business Saturday and I will spend money in my own community. I’ll start the day by buying some donuts from a local bakery for my dad. Later I’ll grab a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop. This evening we will be at an event that is being hosted by a local small business.

Shop local because it is good for the community and most of the money you spend will stay in the community. I am a small business owner. The money I bring in doesn’t go to another state to a corporation or to pay a franchise fee.

Don’t wait for small business Saturday. Buy local all year long.  Don’t spend your whole life working for someone else. Think about starting your own local business.

Shipping season on the Mississippi River

Barges on the Mississippi River

Barges on the river near downtown. The buildings in the background are in downtown St. Paul. You can take a picture like this from the MRT bike trail in between Warner Road and the river.

There are no ice cutters on the river. The shipping season starts each year when the barges can get through the ice. The river near St. Paul does not freeze solid but can ice over on the surface. There isn’t any ice yet.

The Mississippi is a wonderful natural resource but it is also an important shipping corridor. The shipping industry provides jobs too. Those barges need to be loaded and unloaded and the tugboats and towboats that push the barges need pilots and crews.

Barges are fun to photograph because they often have rust on them.

Proposed Property tax statements

Our proposed property tax statement came in the mail on Friday. This year the proposed increase is 16.1%! OUCH! every taxing authority is asking for more money.

The city of Saint Paul has been getting extra payments from us each year for “street maintenance”.  Now that fee will be collected with property taxes. That makes the taxes a bit more transparent but when added to all of the other tax increases the bill gets pretty high.

Home values went up. The valuations statements come out in March and homeowners have a chance to contest them. Good luck with that. On average St. Paul home values went up by almost 6% and in some neighborhoods property values went up by almost twice that much.

If you have not gotten your property tax statement yet, take a few deep breaths before you open the envelope. Perhaps an adult beverage is in order. If you property taxes are rolled into your mortgage with the payments spread out of twelve months you may notice the increase as much.

If you want to know more about Ramsey County and the budget, read about it on the property tax website.

As for federal taxes, it is complicated which is what will make it easy for our leaders to proclaim “huge tax cut” while raising our taxes.

So far our federal tax system has a done a great job rewarding the wealthy.

Rice Park
Rice Park – city park, downtown St. Paul

How is your home heated?

If you live in Minnesota you learn to appreciate central heating. The first thing I look at when I go into the basement of a home is the heating plant. They are not always in the basement. Sometimes furnaces are hidden in closets or attics.

There are home buyers who strongly prefer certain types of heating. Back in the day when there were a lot of homes on the market buyers would even ask me to make heating type part of the search criteria.

Because heating is so interesting. The NorthstarMLS created this infographic to show heating types and how popular they are. Which heating type is the best? That depends upon who you talk to. Personally, I would love to have in-floor heating.

Types of heating in Minnesota homes