Council to dole out $47,000 in grant funds

Published 8:54 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Despite having to make cuts to its own 2009 budget to stay in the black, the Albert Lea City Council voted Monday to allocate $47,000 in discretionary funds for 2009.

It includes grants to groups such as the Pelican Breeze Foundation, the Albert Lea Family Y, the American Federations of Musicians, Albert Lea Transit and the Freeborn County Historical Museum, to name a few.

The city received 23 grant applications for the funds, totaling $114,000.

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Then a committee made up of city staff reviewed the applications and identified whether the city had statutory authority to donate to each request based on the public purpose doctrine. The committee made its recommendations to the City Council of which to approve, and council members also put in their input.

During discussion of the allocations before the vote on Monday, Councilor George Marin said he was pleased the council did not spend the whole $50,000.

He also noted that he thinks the city needs to provide more clarification to organizations about what the public purpose doctrine means because there were some misunderstandings about what the funds had to be used for during the application process.

Marin said in the future he wanted to make it so that only one application per organization is accepted.

Councilor Vern Rasmussen added at the end of the discussion that in light of the economic times that the city and the nation is in, he thinks the city should send out a letter to these groups who applied that the city may not have the money next year to give out. That way if they need to make other arrangements, they will do so.

In other action, the City Council:

– Approved changes to the 2009 fee schedule.

Some of the proposed changes to the fee schedule include reducing the amount to adopt an animal from the shelter, increasing boat dock fees, adding hotel/motel inspection fees and increasing library fines, to name a few.

Look to the Tribune for a more in-depth story in the future about the fee changes.

– Approved the distribution of costs in the parking maintenance district that are associated with the downtown’s central business district.

The parking maintenance district was created in 1976 with the purpose of allocating the costs for providing and maintaining parking for downtown properties.

The changes approved Monday include eliminating the zones currently in place to divide the cost evenly by the properties. Four properties not currently in the district would be added. These include the north half of the Freeborn County parking lot, 224 Clark St., 133 William St. and the Freeborn County Shopper lot.

Almost every property will see a slight decrease in their cost.

Maintenance of the parking lots includes things such as street repairs and snow removal.

– Heard a presentation by Emily Hutchins, with the Department of Natural Resources, about the benefits of shoreland restoration.

In addition to helping the wildlife in the area, lakeshore restoration can affect the water quality and help with erosion control, Hutchins said.

Pelican Breeze Foundation: $1,000

Albert Lea Family Y: $500

American Federation of Musicians: $2,000

South Central Youth for Christ: $1,000

Albert Lea Art Center: $2,000

Albert Lea Transit: $9,000

Freeborn County Historical Museum: $10,000

Eddie Cochran Street Dance Committee: $2,000

Fourth of July Fireworks-Chamber: $500

Third of July Parade-Chamber: $1,000

Audubon Science Center: $1,000

Senior Resources of Freeborn County: $10,000

ARC of Freeborn County: $2,000

Fountain Lake Sportsman’s Club: $500

Story Lady & Toy Museum: $1,000

Big Island Barbeque: $500

Big Island Rendezvous: $2,000

Albert Lea Community Band: $500

REACT: $500

She showed slides of a lakeshore restoration project in Loon Lake in Waseca, including how it was before the project began, how the project transpired and then how it is today.

– Voted to change the name of Lee Park to Weber Park.

The park honors 1st Lt. John Anthony Weber, who was killed in action when his aircraft was shot down on April 7, 1943, near Guadalcanal Island.

There is a plaque on a stone and a flag pole at the site to honor him.

– Adopted the 2009 Albert Lea Port Authority budget.

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman presented the budget as approved at the Oct. 1 Port Authority meeting.

– Approved miscellaneous assessments, including unpaid utility bills, refuse removal and mowing services.

– Voted to defer about $1,700 in assessments at 825 Jefferson Ave. associated with the 2008 mill and overlay project.

– Adopted several policy changes for the Albert Lea Public Library. The Library Advisory Board recommended the changes at its Nov. 20 meeting.

The changes address the increasing number of unattended children at the library, issuing library cards to children and computer lab usage, to name a few of the changes.

Rasmussen said the changes were unanimously recommended during the advisory board meeting. The library is seeing an increase in children under the age of 7 being dropped off for what he described as babysitting.

“There’s a real concern for that,” he said.

There’s also been some issues with misuses of the computers, for people trying to get more time on the computers.

– Called a public hearing for Dec. 22 for the rental housing fee schedule.

– Called a public hearing for Dec. 22 for the adoption of the comprehensive plan.

– Called a workshop for 5 p.m. on Dec. 11 with the Freeborn County commissioners.

– Called the initial Truth in Taxation hearing for 7 p.m. on Dec. 1.