Council prepares for vote to finalize sales tax language

Published 9:58 am Friday, April 22, 2016

Albert Lea city councilors still plan to take a final vote on legislative language Monday for a proposed extension of the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s half-percent sales tax.

The Albert Lea City Council discussed the process Thursday night at a study session.

Chad Adams

Chad Adams

The council directed city staff to incorporate language to include biannual meetings for the Watershed District in front of the council to report activities, expenditures and revenue uses into a final resolution.

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Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said Lakes Foundation and Shell Rock River Watershed District officials have told him they want the ballot measure for the extension to come in a special election in November 2017. That way they can havemore time to educate the public on Watershed District operations and to give the Watershed District time to react if the Legislature changes legislative language.

City councilors, however, still plan for the ballot measure to come in November 2016.

Fourth Ward Councilor Reid Olson said people support the sales tax, noting it would easily pass in November.

Fifth Ward Councilor Larry Anderson said Watershed District officials will have adequate time to educate the public before November’s vote, noting he wants the ballot measure to come before the $15 million collected by the sales tax is used up.

“I think if everyone works together, it’s going to get done,” Anderson said.

The Watershed District’s request is to extend the sales tax for either 15 years or until $15 million has been collected.

Parts of a separate agreement with the Watershed District were discussed, such as the Watershed District seeking input from the City Council on district projects within city limits; the city having a staff member appointed to the Shell Rock River Watershed District Citizen Advisory Board; and city officials biannually attending Shell Rock River Watershed District Board of Managers meetings.

Other terms included city officials being provided one-year notice by the Watershed District when city funds are requested for a project partnership that exceeds $100,000; the Watershed District Board of Managers broadcasting their meetings on cable television; Watershed District officials providing the city with at least one week’s notice of any change in meeting dates; and the city possibly seeking a rescinding or amending of the sales tax if terms of the agreement are not met, which was removed from the agreement.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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