Discussion on the St. Michael-Albertville Ice Arena was heated at Monday night’s Albertville council meeting. Current proposals would require a bond to be passed which would add $22 annually to Albertville resident’s property taxes and $11 to St. Michael resident’s property taxes. (The difference is largely due to the different size and amount of residents in each city. St. Michael has more homes/residents, thus they do not need to charge each homeowner as much.)
City Administrator Larry Kruse shared a presentation outlining the history of the discussion, the issues, budget and updated costs. The current bond proposal includes a contribution from the St. Michael-Albertville School District which school officials have said is not possible to do at this time due to budget cuts.
Some of the issues include the ball park located next to the proposed second sheet of ice and the premium hourly rate the arena would charge compared to other communities.
Council member Dan Wagner asked the group if “$22 a year per property is worth it to impose on our residents?”
“We need to know how the council feels and if we agree with the board on principle.” Council member Larry Sorenson asked.
Council member John Vetsch was adamant that “Albertville wants to do this because it’s the right thing to do. The other partners aren’t as passionate or committed.”
Vetsch and school board member, Jeff Lindquist recently met with Senator Amy Koch regarding funding. While Koch was clear that it’s a tough time budget wise, but there is the possibility of a Mighty Ducks Grant.
City Clerk Bridget Miller changed the tone when she told the council, “I’m concerned about my job. Can the city really afford this project?”
Mayor Mark Meehan piped in with similar concerns. “I am concerned that we don’t have our priorities straight. We just got done hearing about flooding and infrastructure issues that we can’t resolve. How can we do this?”
The council agrees that there is a need and they would like to support the project, but would like to see what the other partners are willing and able to do.
“Let’s get a thermometer out there and see what the hockey association can raise and bring to the table,” Kruse suggested when asked what sort of number would work.
The hope is that the hockey association, the school district, St. Michael and Albertville will all contribute and work towards the completion of the project.
“I don’t want the conversation to end.” Sorenson said at the close of the long, heated discussion. “We have an opportunity, we’re getting close. Let’s continue to talk about it. Let’s not close the door.”