Council approves recovery agreement for HRA

Published 12:17 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved a recovery agreement with the Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of an ongoing effort to bring the HRA back into compliance with federal reporting standards. 

Jeanne Leick, HRA executive director, who started leading the organization in September 2019, said the HRA was given a “troubled” status by HUD after the 2018 audit was not submitted on time. 

The audit from that year has since been submitted, along with the 2019 audit. The final 2020 audit should be submitted in the coming days and is due by the end of June.

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Leick said the status should be upgraded after the agency gets an inspection of its facilities, but she noted HUD has not been able to inspect the HRA’s facilities because of COVID-19. Once the pandemic is eased, the organization will be able to be inspected and scored again. The last inspection done was in 2018.

She said when she was hired for the position in 2019, she was hired to get the agency running, to follow HUD rules and to address the building issues at the Shady Oaks apartment complex. She replaced former Executive Director Jon Ford, who resigned in June 2018. After Ford’s resignation, the city took over oversight of the organization, including former Assistant City Manager Jerry Gabrielatos and Finance Director Kristi Brutlag, as well as former Fergus Falls City Manager Mark Sievert in the interim. 

Albert Lea City Manager Ian Rigg said he had full faith in the plan set up, which gives the city continued oversight of the agency until the HUD status improves.

When asked about further details about the housing agency prior to Leick’s start, Rigg said more information could not be released and is “deemed confidential non-public data pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13.82,” which relates to law enforcement.  

Leick said work is moving forward on several building projects for Shady Oaks, which has 126 units, including replacing elevators and stabilizing the building to hold bricks in place. She is getting estimates on the cost to correct the bricks permanently and is applying for grants to pay for the project.
“We need to know what it’s going to cost for this building first,” she said.

In other action, the city:

  • Approved replacing a pickup for the Street Department. The replacement 2021 Ford F-350 is about $32,000, plus the cost of a snow plow and back rack for about $8,300. The old truck, plow and sander will be sold as surplus equipment.
  • Approved replacing a tractor for the Parks Department. The 2021 Kubota L6060 from Arnolds of Alden replaces a 2011 model. In addition to the tractor, they are also purchasing a beach and sand clear to run on the tractor that will be used to clean the beach, volleyball courts and infields of the ball fields.

Cost of the new equipment minus the trade-in will be about $58,000.

  • Approved the replacement of a 2004 John Deere loader tractor with the Parks Department. The equipment is used for tree cleanup, loading and unloading materials, seeding, fertilizing, spraying and snow removal. 

The old tractor will be transferred to the wastewater treatment plant. The 1985 unit there will be traded in.

Cost of the new equipment less the trade-in of the 1985 unit will be about $48,000.

  • Approved the replacement of two 2014 John Deere mowers. Cost of the new mowers, less the trade-in, is about $72,000. The units are used for mowing in parks, athletic fields, public boulevards and other areas. They are also used to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, trails and downtown areas maintained by the city. 
  • Approved plans and ordered advertisement of bids for the reconstruction project that includes portions of Edgewood Avenue, St. Peter Avenue, Stanley Avenue and Ulstad Avenue. 

The proposed project includes complete removal and replacement of pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain. 

Estimated project cost is about $3.17 million and would be paid for with assessments, general obligation bonding funds, and water and sewer funds. 

  • Accepted a $35 donation to the Albert Lea Senior Center.