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Albertville City Staff Tussles with Hockey Arena Expansion, Numbers

Talks got emotional and lengthy as Albertville staff and city council members went over behind the numbers proposed the St. Michael-Albertville Hockey Board.

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.” 

bogesmn April 15, 2011 at 01:07 AM
If we have to quote the modern day Messiah Obama....didn't he say "Yes We Can!!!!"
Big Man in Town April 27, 2011 at 12:12 AM
I think it's just one of those things that we expect from our cities to do......it's what brings us all together. So I say yes to the arena. It's better than the usual " add another playground and ballpark" suggestion I hear. Heck, where's the community pool in these cities? We should be getting that too.......we need a local pool with smaller water park for our kids to go to during the summer break. I see so many other cities, smaller than STMA that have the ability and budget for this. Adds summer jobs and offers a location for swim lessons. I have heard " we got the MS pool for that" arguement so many times........it's time to get these things done. Hell, a little tax on the Outlet mall shoppers is an opportunity just sitting there waiting.
Jake November 03, 2011 at 12:11 AM
I have been playing hockey here since I was 7 years old. I've been to almost every hockey arena in the state and I have never seen a community with a population as high as St. Michael's and Albertville's with such a poor facility. We are one of a handleful of arenas without showers, we don't have enough locker rooms for both the boy's and girl's high school teams, and we have one of the smallest seating areas of any high school team in the state. How can that be? I though STMA was a community that took pride in our athletics as well as our school? If you don't think hockey is a big deal in our town, you can come to a game and watch our high school team play. I'll even pay for your ticket because according to most of you, you have $0 in your bank account. If you only knew how unfair it is to our players to only have 1 "arena" (if you want to call it that) you would be willing to shell out the extra 11 or 22 dollars a year to fund a new arena. If you think the arena is only for hockey players/parents you should know that you are welcome to come watch any tuesday or saturday evening this winter... unless you're busy hanging out at the library or senior center. So for you people who think the world is flat and have never left STMA, look at the other arenas in our conference and compare them to ours.
Rick November 03, 2011 at 01:41 AM
Jake, I trust you'll be a "YES" vote on the levy also? Where does it end? It all adds up. Your "neighborhood envy" is stunning. Because some other community has a nicer rink/arena doesn't automatically mean we match them. Why don't you go and look when the funding for those rinks you're talking about was authorized. I'll bet it was before 2008.
Albertville Resident November 03, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Taxpayers should NOT pay for this at all! Let the hockey association raise the money and make the people who use it and attend games there pay for it.

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