Building projects, workforce top council goals for the year

Published 1:00 am Monday, April 17, 2017

The Albert Lea City Council has established its top five goals for 2017-18.

City Manager Chad Adams presented the goals April 10, which includes making progress on city building projects, growing the city’s workforce, growing local business sectors, making  reforms and collaborating with local government entities.

Goals were set from feedback from the city’s management team and council members. Councilors established the five goals.

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Implementing the city’s facilities master plan — including the city’s public works, airport and fire station projects — was established as a goal for the next two years.

The council on April 10 accepted a $1.41 million bid for an addition to City Garage. The project consists of a 6,375-square foot, one-story addition. The building would replace the administrative portion of City Garage and combine the street, utility and parks departments into one location. The project is expected to start this summer and be completed in early 2018.

Construction on the new airport and arrival departure building could begin this fall or in early 2018. Construction on a new fire hall could begin in 2018.

Other top goals the city established:

  • Increase the community’s tax base. Adams said officials plan to maintain an aggressive approach in using existing economic development tools — tax increment financing and tax abatement, loans and state funds — to spur business expansion and growth. Officials hope to amend the city’s revolving loan fund policy to provide more flexibility in creating business growth and implement the new housing tax abatement program. The council unanimously supported the new tax abatement program in December, which would eliminate city property taxes for five years on single-family homes, duplexes and multi-family housing with less than four units built in the next three years. The Albert Lea school board and Freeborn County Board of Commissioners could approve the program this week. Officials plan to focus on growing food business, data centers, advanced manufacturing and agricultural business business sectors.
  • Update the city assessment policy for streets and sidewalks. The council late last month amended sidewalk assessment cost-share policies for new residential and commercial sidewalk installation and sidewalk reconstruction projects to 75 percent city cost and 25 percent property owner assessments. City officials expect to complete a review of cost-share for street improvements and reconstruction projects either this fall or spring 2018 and review additional state and federal street-funding options.
  • Emphasize workforce housing creation by existing initiatives such as market rate rental tax abatement and new housing tax abatement. New initiatives and programs are a possibility, and officials plan to advocate for tax credits, grants and state tax increment financing. A regional workforce housing summit will be May 15 in Rochester, and Albert Lea will host a workforce housing summit this summer or fall.
  • Prepare a plan that addresses various places of flooding by identifying and studying areas, conducting a cost/benefit analysis and having a capital improvement plan update. The plan is not expected to solve all of the city’s flooding areas.
  • Other city goals include developing the Freeborn National Bank building, code enforcement, community engagement, zoning land-use code updates, goals in relation to a recreational facilities master plan and community strategic plan, addressing phase one of Blazing Star Landing development and reinforcing the city’s crime-free multi-housing family program.

About Sam Wilmes

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

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