Editorial: City should consider lake funds request

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2002

The City of Albert Lea has a chance to give more than lip service to plans to clean up Albert Lea Lake. The Lake Restoration Committee has asked the council to approve $150,000 toward the county’s lake plans for next year, and lake efforts &045; which benefit residents of Albert Lea as much as anyone else &045; could use the support.

The city’s contention so far is that there’s no money in the budget for it, but the reality is that when the city decides it wants something, it can make it happen. The $350,000 for the Lea Center building, as well as the $150,000 it was willing to spend on the Hanson building this summer, was not in the budget, but when the opportunity to buy the buildings came up, the city rightly found a way. In the case of Lea Center, it used freed up police and fire funds offset by interest income from a pension fund.

Similarly, money for mosquito spraying was not in thebudget last year, but when it became clear the service was needed, the city found the money.

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If the city really wants to help the lake effort, it can find a way. The $150,000 request is less than half what was spent on the Lea Center project this summer.

The county has jurisdiction over the watershed issue, and the county has handled the planning and implementation of plans so far. With so much progress already made on lake and watershed efforts, it’s a good time for the city to start stepping up its involvement.

City councilors should seriously consider finding a way to at least meet part of the request.