Letter: All deserve a say in future of city

Published 8:04 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019

These were some of last week’s Albert Lea Tribune’s headlines: 1. “Council approves how to spend surplus funds,” 2. “Council approves $20K toward Main Street program efforts,” 3. “City manager accepts new job,” 4. “Community engagement a must in city manager search.”

The first two articles are about spending taxpayer dollars, and the third is about the city manager leaving. They go hand in hand. Our taxes are high in this community, and the council is deciding how to spend surplus funds? I personally believe no amount of surplus (rainy day) funds is too much to have on hand for future opportunities. Some of the transfers are legitimate, but I question allotting $75K for design and development of a $30 million to $50 million dollar community center at the Blazing Star landing? There is a lot of smoke and mirrors and shell games going on here, showing a lack of transparency on this issue and if it is happening on this issue, how many other issues is information being withheld?

I believe No. 4 (April 26) op-ed is the most important headline and  article of them all because it addresses what has to happen in Albert Lea for us to have a successful future.  We cannot afford another eight years of what employees, business people and taxpayers in general have had to endure in the past eight years. I commend the Albert Lea Tribune for printing this short piece because it says so much. They tell us the city manager job is critical to the community, a candidate has to be a good fit to lead the city, the council will make the ultimate decision, but it is important for all community members to be able to interact and meet the candidates for themselves.

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Albert Lea has many great things going for it. I believe we have a beautiful community with all kinds of potential. What we need are leaders, elected and appointed, who are humble enough to realize their positions are not about them, but what they can do to make our community the best place they can for the betterment of all of us. They need to listen to what the taxpayers who elected them are saying and act accordingly, working with the taxpayer as much as possible. I, for one, did not give up my voice to a mayor and council based on an election.

The past cannot be changed, but the future can be whatever we want it to be. It will take dedication, determination and involvement. We, as taxpayers, all deserve to have a say in our future. That will take holding our leaders accountable and demanding transparency, not just lip service to that end.  We have a lot of good people in this community who work tirelessly to make Albert Lea a better place. Their names do not appear in the Albert Lea Tribune regularly, but they are committed and determined to succeed in business and life, and in their successes we will succeed as a community. Support Albert Lea’s success.

Gary Hagen

Albert Lea