Zuccolotto worries about “affordable” housing; District health protocols canceled for many reasons

The Kraewood Development Tax Increment Funding Agreement passed at Tuesday night’s town council meeting by a 5-1 vote. The only dissenting vote was cast by Councilor George Zuccolotto.

His concerns revolve around what the city and state call affordable housing and who is given access to that housing. Zuccolotto had expressed his concerns during the conference on February 8and council business meeting, asking how applicants for affordable housing would be assessed.

“It’s more than income,” he said. “It’s a credit score, a record with the law, it’s things like a social security number.”

The TIF agreement stipulates that in exchange for nearly $2.5 million in financing assistance for the development’s 106-unit building, 43 of those units are to be offered as affordable housing for those with equal incomes. or less than 60% of the Rice County median median income. .

According to data provided by the Ehlers Group, which serves as the city’s financial advisor, a one-person household would qualify for an income of $36,360 or less, a two-person household $41,520, a three people at $46,740 and a household of four at $51,900. Affordable rents will be set in the building at $909 for a studio, $973 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,168 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Zuccolotto candidly stated that he does not consider these numbers to be affordable. He himself is in a lower tax bracket, and it would be irresponsible for him to rent an apartment that costs as much as these. And he said the project doesn’t serve a significant demographic in his constituency.

“This is just an indication of the feelings I’ve had over the years, where [we’re told,] ‘That’s not the plan. The next project is the draft. It’s as affordable as it gets based on the numbers we have. But what is really affordable? What is the human? And what is best for the city? I can not [vote to] Skip this, because I don’t know who from my community is going to live there.

Mayor Pownell said she understands Councilor Zuccolotto’s point of view. The city has made housing development at all levels a major priority. She pointed to several other property developments underway and said the solution could be in quantity.

“So we are looking at housing at all levels, in several areas of the city, getting housing there. Because, also, if you increase the supply, it is possible that you could see some of these rents go down. Not all housing options are suitable for everyone. And that’s just one of those options out there.

During the meeting, City Administrator Ben said the city was preparing for another review of its rental policies. In response to Councilor Zuccolotto’s concerns, a motion was moved that council direct staff and the Northfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority to include security boundaries, authorized identification requirements and requirements to authorize documentation other only a valid social security number, as it considers rent ordinance changes.

Council passed the motion unanimously.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Mayor Rhonda Pownell and City Administrator Ben Martig can be heard here

The school board saw several reasons to end the health protocols

Next week, the Northfield School District will roll back some of the Covid-19 public safety protocols that have been in place since the start of the school year. Masks will no longer be required in most buildings in the district, and close contacts of those who test positive for Covid will not have to self-quarantine.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matt Hillmann said the school board felt comfortable with the decision after considering four factors.

The first was the rapid decline in the rate of positive cases in Rice County and the district. Two weeks ago, the number of active cases was 300 in the district, which was a higher number than the district had seen in 2021. That number has now dropped to 51 active cases, which Hillmann said , is comparable to the observed figures. at the start of the school year. The numbers continue to drop every day, he said, and in fact there were only 9 new cases reported over the past weekend, which is the fewest new active cases reported over the past weekend. of a weekend he remembers.

The second reason was the greater number of immunities within the student body. Northfield High School, he said, has an immunity rate of 88%. This means that 88% of all secondary school students are either fully vaccinated or have had Covid in the last 90 days.

“It’s a very good rate of protection,” he says, “in a public environment.

Another key reason is that vaccines have been available for children ages 5 and up since last November, and a parent has had plenty of time to get their child vaccinated if they wish.

Finally, he said, they may cancel health protocols due to the availability of high-quality N95, KN95 and N99 masks. This is a relatively new development that should help further slow the spread of the virus within the community.

Hillmann said the new protocols aren’t effective immediately because people have to get used to the idea that everyone around them or their student won’t be wearing a mask.

“We’re giving it a full week because we know people’s mindsets need to change. We really want to honor the fact that this is a pretty big transition. Some people thought he should have been eliminated at midnight [on Monday] evening, other people think we should have kept him until the end of the school year. Ultimately, we looked at what is a reasonable amount of time we think people need to adjust their mindset, and landed around ten days after announcing the changes.

The new masking rules will come into effect on Monday. Contact tracing will cease at the end of the school day tomorrow.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Schools Superintendent Dr Matt Hillmann can be heard here

Rich Larson is KYMN’s News Director. Contact him at [email protected]

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