by Mike Knaak
Sartell’s population will grow to more than 25,000 people by 2025, a 37 percent increase since 2018, Mayor Ryan Fitzthum told Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday.
The projection was part of Fitzthum’s state of city update that touched on growth and development issues as well as recent successes.
“One of the things we’re very thoughtful about as a council and a staff is making sure that we’re growing strategically and we’re not just putting a big number out on the population sign,” Fitzthum said. “We want to be very thoughtful in how we’re growing. We continue to be the city in the area that’s most desirable for the whole gamut whether it’s young families or retirees.”
The mayor told chamber members that health care and health services drive the local economy. The city wants to grow medical technology with more development where those facilities are clustered at the south edge of the city west of Hwy. 15 and CR 120. Development includes installing high-speed fiber optic internet.
Sartell is right in the middle on the amount of property taxes on commercial and residential property compared with other area cities. For example on a $250,000 home, the tax bill in Sartell is $3,710.02 compared with $3,945.79 in Waite Park and $3,402.99 in St. Cloud.
“We think that’s a continued advantage for Sartell,” Fitzthum said. “We don’t see it being good business to have significant increases or significant decreases whether it’s on commercial or residential. U.S. businesses cannot plan for that. And so it’s important for us to be good stewards of those dollars and continue to be consistent.”
Fitzthum showed data that revealed some details about Sartell’s labor force.
“The labor force participation rate is 76 percent compared to about 70 percent statewide,” the mayor said. “We have more female workers than male workers, which is unlike the rest of Minnesota. So I think that’s something that we as a city can be proud of – is that we have a lot of stay-at-home dads.”
Fitzthum also pointed out that Sartell has a higher median income than neighboring cities and that’s good news for business.
“We have people here that are willing and able to spend money to buy services,” he said.
Fitzthum listed a number of successes in 2019 and looked ahead to 2020.
His list of 2019 highlights included lower taxes, work on the $13-million public safety building that will open next year and opening the new Sartell High School. The mayor also cited the city-school district partnership on Community Center operations and the school district helping the city with IT support.
For 2020, the city is launching a marketing and brand development effort to shop local and celebrate local businesses.
“We’re really looking to go from being a very reactive community to being proactive on the forefront helping us celebrate what Sartell is and where we’re going,” he said.
There will also be a renewed effort for single-family residential development.
“For the last multiple years we’ve had a lot of multi-family development,” Fitzthum said. “We’ve put a little pause on that. We have two different developments that are being worked on right now between staff and developers. We’re bringing out one very unique property to Sartell which will offer larger acreage.”
The mayor wrapped up by asking for chamber members’ support.
“I’m here today to celebrate Sartell, to share our message. It’s important that we’re in this together. We win together, we lose together,” Fitzthum said.