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Council extends city’s emergency declaration

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday voted to extend the city’s emergency declaration through Feb. 8 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Some councilors during the council’s work session ahead of the meeting questioned if there would be repercussions for the city if the council decided not to extend it.

Sixth Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks said it was getting a little uncomfortable that the governor alone had so much ability to dictate everything for the state and said Walz could extend the state’s emergency declaration month by month.

First Ward Councilor Rich Murray said it is time for Gov. Tim Walz to get input on how to handle the emergency from state legislators.

“We have a bunch of representatives and a bunch of senators that are being locked out of this discussion and at the very least he should include them in the discussion on how this emergency is being handled,” Murray said.

City Manager Ian Rigg said having the emergency declaration in place at the city level allows the city to implement certain safety measures, including operating council meetings by Zoom, and to make alterations to access and service as needed depending on fluctuating COVID-19 numbers in the county.

In other action, the council:

• Had a public hearing and ordered improvements for reconstruction of portions of Edgewood Avenue, St. Peter Avenue, Stanley Avenue and Ulstad Avenue.

The $3.17 million project calls for complete removal and replacement of pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain.

Rigg said existing pavements were constructed in the early 1950s and are severely deteriorated beyond the ability of routine maintenance to address. The watermain, storm sewer and sanitary sewer were constructed between 1946 and 1947.

Preliminary estimates for assessments range from about $4,000 to about $14,000 for affected properties. The project would be paid for with assessments, general obligation bonding money, city funds and water and sewer funds.

• Established various appointments and designations for 2021 for the city.

• Designated depositories of city funds and signatories for withdrawal of funds and to authorize credit card use, electronic or wire transfers, investments of municipal funds and collateral securing deposits for 2021.

The resolution appointed Finance Director Kristi Brutlag as city treasurer and accounting supervisor Tanya Harms as alternate city treasurer.

US Bank, Stifel and the Minnesota Municipal Money Market Fund (4M Fund) were designated as depositories for city funds.

• Established rules and procedures for the council, which are approved annually.

• Designated polling places for 2021, including the following: 1st Ward, Edgewater Bay Pavilion; 2nd Ward, First Lutheran Church; 3rd Ward, United Methodist Church; 4th Ward, Grace Lutheran Church; 5th Ward, City Hall; and 6th Ward, Assembly of God Church.

• Named the Albert Lea Tribune as the city’s official newspaper for 2021 for purposes of publishing legal notices required by state law and city charter.