City and county consider sharing IT staff

Published 8:49 pm Saturday, March 7, 2009

Expected cuts to local government aid from the state have Albert Lea and Freeborn County officials considering a staff-sharing agreement for their information systems departments.

On Monday, the Albert Lea City Council will vote on whether to authorize their end of the agreement with the county to streamline those services for the rest of the year.

Albert Lea City Manager Victoria Simonsen said Freeborn County has four staff in its information services department, while Albert Lea doesn’t have any. In the past, the city contracted out for information technology needs.

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Simonsen said if the council approves the agreement, the county’s information systems director and three other technicians would be available to the city at rates between $19 and $36.70 an hour.

The contract would be in effect through Dec. 31 and would afterward be approved on a yearly basis.

It would save the city nearly $50,000 from budgeted expenses in 2009, Simonsen said.

During the Monday meeting, the council will also:

Vote on calling a public hearing for April 13 about the proposed establishment of Municipal Development District No. 9 and TIF District No. 9-1.

The Albert Lea Port Authority is requesting the establishment of the districts, which includes property in the ALEDA Industrial Park.

The Albert Lea Planning Commission will review the request at its April 7 meeting.

Hear a request from Destination Albert Lea, First Lutheran Church and ShineFest to hold a downtown cleanup day on May 16. The groups are requesting the use of the Freeborn National Bank and Jacobson buildings as a meeting place for the event and as a place to serve refreshments for workers.

While discussing the downtown cleanup, the council also talked about whether to have the city’s Hometown Pride Cleanup Day in correspondence the same day.

Simonsen said last year the event cost the city $1,380. The event allows people to drop off unwanted items at the transfer station for free or reduced rates.

“I think it’s a good thing for our community,” Councilor Larry Baker said. “It helps get our community cleaned up.”

There was brief discussion during the Thursday preagenda workshop about whether to have the event this year, especially in light of budget cuts, but the councilors agreed the event is worth the money for the message it sends to the community.

Hear an update from Shell Rock River Watershed District Administrator Brett Behnke.

Vote on a request from the Cloverleaf Lions of Albert Lea to use the main hangar at the Albert Lea Airport for their annual flight breakfast on June 7.

Discuss appointments to the Charter Commission, which meets annually. The terms for three members on the current commission will be expiring May 31.