Sarah Stultz: You have an opinion? Come to a meeting

Published 9:41 pm Monday, November 25, 2019

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz


I have enjoyed reading the discussion on social media surrounding a few local issues in the last week. While the tone isn’t always the most constructive online, it was great to see the sheer number of people who were getting involved in the conversation.

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The first issue was taxes after Freeborn County mailed out the proposed tax statements for 2020. Many people said they were seeing large proposed tax increases, as well as increases in the values of their properties. It’s no wonder people get excited when its their money on the line.

Speaking for myself, our property value went up about $7,000 or $8,000, and we have a proposed $300 overall tax increase. It’s both positive and negative to see your value go up because while it may be good when it’s time to sell, you know that in turn you have to pay more taxes, too. And some people saw much larger increases than our family did.

The second issue was the proposed design and location for the new water tower. Everybody has a preference, and I’m really interested to see how this one pans out.

I was amazed at the extent of conversation happening on the various social media sites, particularly in light of how few people attend the Albert Lea City Council meetings to voice concerns about these kinds of things.

If only all these people who were quick to share their opinions on Facebook would come to a meeting, get educated on the process and, most importantly, share their opinions with their city councilors, who will ultimately be tasked with making the final decisions on both of these issues.

As someone who covers these meetings regularly for the newspaper, you learn a lot about the process of city government by attending these meetings. While there are not always thrilling topics being discussed, they are all issues that in some way affect all of us — whether that’s through taxpayer support or otherwise.

If you want to voice your opinions, come to the meetings and make it official on the record or reach out by phone or email to your councilor.

The Albert Lea City Council met Monday night and will meet again in two weeks on Dec. 9.

The city is also hosting an open house at 5:30 p.m. today about the water tower and has specifically asked people for their opinions about which design and location they support.

Talking on social media doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t get back to the people who are ultimately making the decisions.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.