Letter: City issues are of concern

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It is amazing how the possible loss of hospital services at our local hospital has brought together such a large group of diversified and passionate people.  This group is caring and focused.  They have decided to fight back and stand up against a larger foe (Mayo) that has made self-interest more important than community interest. Broken promises, lack of transparency, accountability and ethical and moral standards seem to be the norm of the day, and it’s time to take back what is near and dear to us all.

I commend all of these people who have stepped forward and given of their precious time and resources. 

As important as our current hospital situation is, I believe we cannot lose sight of or let it overshadow all the other important issues going on within our community that may cost us millions of dollars and affect us long into our future.  There are also other groups out there who are meeting and looking at other areas of the city’s management and economic development from the past and present, that is felt by the members to have contributed to the current hospital situation, high property taxes and utility rates and how we can change those practices to avoid similar situations in the future.

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Other things in our community that we need to be concerned about in addition to the loss of hospital services are; where are we really at in the process of having Fountain Lake dredged?  We have committed another $15 million in sales tax dollars to this issue and have been told numerous dates over the years as to when the dredging would begin, and still nobody knows for sure when that date is. I understand the permitting process is tedious and takes a long time, but if you don’t know when that process will be completed, then that’s what you need to say instead of leading us down this path only to ensure a funding source.

City management’s style and accounting practices are costing us millions of additional dollars in taxes and utility fees because there is not enough oversight. I believe departments and positions are being changed at the city manager’s discretion even when it violates the City Charter, city ordinances and state law. We need to take the direction of our city back. That means being as dedicated in that process as the Save Our Hospital group is in their quest. When the city asks for your opinion, you have to make your voice heard.

The city is responsible for creating an infrastructure that is sufficient to handle the needs of its residents, existing commercial business and future development. That is where our tax dollars should be spent, not in the actual development. That should be left to professionals with that expertise. Our past investments in development have proved costly to the taxpayer. If we have officials who want to be developers, then they should give up their position and form a development company and speculate their own money, not the taxpayers, on future development. 

Gary Hagen

Albert Lea