City to host first Citizens Academy

Ever wonder how the budget and tax levy are determined or how the streets are plowed? Curious to know what it takes to serve as a firefighter or police officer?

For the first time ever, residents, business owners and others invested in the well-being of North St. Paul will have the opportunity to participate in a Citizens Academy, where they will learn the answers to these questions and many more.

The nine-week course will take participants inside City Hall and out into the community for hands-on field experience. They will get a crash course on the various aspects of running the city, including sessions on understanding the budget process and how property taxes are calculated, the important role of planning and zoning, and street and utility maintenance. Outside of the classroom setting, participants will explore the fire and police departments, trying on gear, partaking in agility tests and touring the stations and equipment.

"I think they really have the opportunity to learn about various aspect of local government specifically in North St. Paul. They're able to learn more about the ins and outs of the city," strategic operations director Debra Lom says. "They have access to our department heads and can ask questions about specific things they're interested in."

The course begins March 31 and continues through May 26 with a graduation ceremony and city planning activity. Sessions will be held on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.

All applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Class size is limited to 15 participants. There is no fee, but participants are only allowed one absence in order to qualify for graduation. High school students are welcome to apply.

Registration opens Monday, Jan. 4 and closes March 4. To register online visit or visit City Hall, 2400 Margaret St. N.

"We haven't even started with registration yet and I've had at least five residents already contact me," Lom says. "They’re excited that they'll have an opportunity to do this."

After completing the program, participants are encouraged to stay involved in city affairs through the various city commissions, volunteer opportunities and public committees established to help guide the implementation of the city's Strategic Plan.

For more information contact Debra Lom at or 651-747-2423.

— Erin Hinrichs

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