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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.” 

Kim April 06, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Anything that benefits our youth, benefits our future. Our community would stand to gain a lot by adding a new ice arena. Our young hockey players would be able to stay local for practices and area businesses would see an increase in revenue. There are many positives that would result with a new arena- I would gladly support this!
Patty April 07, 2011 at 02:38 AM
I fully support a second sheet of ice along . I suspect that when many of us moved the the area, we looked at what the STMA community and schools would provide for our family. We liked the positive reputation of the school district, the growing business district, the future of the community center, the biking trails, parks, the senior center, and sport/activity opportunities. STMA has boomed! We need to expand with it. We have beautiful soccer and baseball fields and numerous parks...unfortunately we have outgrown our hockey arena. I am more than willing to support this or anything else that benefits our community.
Lisa Peterson April 07, 2011 at 04:26 AM
I'm 100% for it! We have a hockey player in the family, but that is not the draw. We have such an amazing set up here - fantastic schools, wonderful people, warm community spirit. We have new businesses going in, the performing arts center, beautiful developments. A second sheet of ice is congruent with all the other quality elements that define STMA. The cost to each family is nomimal and although some may never use the rinks - some don't use the parks and they pay for the those as well. On a practical note - we have so many so very talented hockey kids and devoted hockey families - we can't expect our one rink to meet the needs of the community anymore. We have reached saturation. It's time to expand and enhance the community and a 2nd sheet of ice would be highly value added to the folks in STMA.
Rob April 07, 2011 at 01:18 PM
As the parent of a STMA hockey player I can attest to the postive impact hockey has had on my kid's and other families in the area. The sense of community is a big reason why I moved to Albertville 10 years ago, and the hockey program in general is a great example of that 'community.' I feel that 6 cents a day is a small price to pay for continuing to foster the growth not only of our hockey program but of our civic pride in general. Mayor Mehan notes in the article that he's concerned about our priorities; if I recall correctly he indicated during his campaign that he would be supportive of an effort to grow youth hockey in STMA. What say you now Mr. Mayor? All that said I do understand that there are many different needs in our community that, if compared apples to apples would probably trump youth hockey i.e. flood control, police/fire etc. But the community is behind this initiative, and I strongly urge those that hold a vote to consider that position.
Dennis April 07, 2011 at 06:17 PM
No...get back out side..and when the ice is gone the season is over....Next Sport...Cant have everything and expect taxes to stay low.Buildings are a big expense to have and run.and I'm not going to do this just because its for the kids.I'm sick of that one.and the other about raising the value of my house.Come on I don't live in hennepin county because of all the add on taxes for everything.Have you ever notice that when a tax gets put on it never goes away.If You Think this sport is that important to your kids than you pay for it.Out of your pocket.Hockey parents can come up with money for new skates and sticks every year than let them pay to play inside. If the school levy that was passed was only payed for buy the parent of the kids in school and the money physically came out of there pocket and you had to pay for it once a week.I'm sure thy would have found a lot more ways of cutting back.If you wanted to go door to door I would probably help like most thinks for this community but when you just put it on my taxes and say we all have to pay because you think your kid is going to benefit more than you pay.Dose this mean we need a golf courses for the kids that play that sport.
Dan April 08, 2011 at 01:03 PM
I think that spreading out the cost is an excellent way to accomplish this goal. And I do understand the residents that do not utililze the arenas. But what they need to realize is that second sheet will not only allow STMA teams more access to the ice but it will allow STMA to sponsor tournaments which will bring in money to the arena and to local businesses. Also, another sheet will allow more available time for open skating, learn to skate as well as other things that all residents can take advantage of.
Suzanne April 08, 2011 at 02:06 PM
I fully support adding on to the current ice arena!! I wish STMA had a figure skating club or program. Currently, I drive 2-4 times a week to Elk River so that my daughter can participant in a sport that she loves. If STMA had another indoor skating rink, I feel a lot more children would participate in figure skating. Right now other parents I talk with say that they would love to have their child in figure skating but are not willing to drive to Elk River or Maple Grove. I'm a big supporter for construction of another ice rink!! How can I get more involved?? I would love to see STMA have a figure skating club!!
Tim April 08, 2011 at 02:16 PM
I want to sit down at a high school hockey games! Please build another hockey arena with more seating!!! My family and I LOVE to watch high school hockey, but the current arena does not have enough seating and we usually need to stand!! It's ALWAYS packed. Just think how much money the high school hockey program is missing out on in admission fees!!
Scott April 08, 2011 at 04:24 PM
I moved to Albertville 14 years ago. It was than a small city with down to earth ideas. Now its full of people who moved here with ideas of making it just like somewhere else. Property values went through the roof as well as taxes. Now that the values are close to reality my taxes have stayed doubled and you want to add more to peoples plate so a small portion of the population can skate inside. I played hockey we skated outside. I have to pay for my sport so should you. We have enough people who have real needs that arent taken care of.
member April 08, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Well, it's a good thing that forward thinking people did move to this community or it would stay stagnant. We do pay for hockey. We pay more than any other sport and the difference is that the money we pay goes towards the city. The city of Albertville takes over $70,000 a year from the arena and puts it into their general funds account. So, if we all go back to "outside" then where do you think the city is going to go to make up that money. Let me tell you, YOU. You will pay one way or another to make that money up. We are the only sport whose money goes to the city and another arena means more money for the city and less you will eventually shell out under a different "tax". So, following your thought we don't need baseball or soccer fields, the kids can find some open grass. We don't need a pool either as we can have our swimteam practice in the local lakes. The basketball team can play in a parking lot. I mean really, progress is good, ignorance is not.
Scott April 08, 2011 at 06:53 PM
You are right its not ignorant for you to except non hockey players to pay for your use. You allready have a sheet of ice if its not good enough build your own. I do like your other idea with the swim team:)
Dennis April 08, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Than find some investors and build it.Run it yourself if its such a good money maker but than it would have been done already.and swimming in a lake good idea.and basketball in a parking lot wow your on fire. great ideas.
member April 08, 2011 at 07:35 PM
It's politics when it's within the city limits. It's not as simple as investors. Ideas that make as much sense as "when the ice is done that's it". And I hate to bring the whole non hockey players paying for our sports thing into context, but again, I don't use most of the progams that my tax dollars support. Wouldn't it be nice if when we pay our taxes we could check off what programs we are going to support and which we aren't? Snow plows, check...food stamps, not check...That's not the way it works unfortunately, so if that is your way of thinking you may need to go to a higher government power than the city of Albertville.
Scott April 08, 2011 at 09:49 PM
So the way you guys do it is piss and moan and force it down everybody elses throat. Put it on the ballot and end this. Just how long do you people think the Checklist needs to be? Just think if you thought the otherway less politics and goverment you would have enough money to support your own sports. This all I ever hear about the Hockey Arena dont the council members have better things to deal with?
JA April 08, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Scott there is no pissing or moaning that I've except from you, all the other post have been respectful and based in reality with some form of understnding of civic issues, city planning, and understanding what a community is. Both supporters and non-supporters should look at this issue through the others paradigm (that basically means from the others point of view Scott). My guess is that if the non supporters would pay closer attention to this issue and all the other issues the city council deals with and how they handle some of them they would lean more toward supporting the arena and be extremely frustrated at some of the other decisions our cities have made. Bottom line, for or against, some of you clearly lack the information on this issue and many others, I can tell you this from having lived in cities where the community is tight and supportive of each other and in cities where the community is disbanded, the tightly knitted community succeeds, has higher home values, less vacant homes, a lower crime rate and an overall better quality of living. It sounds like most people in this community understand this. I don't have a child in these schools or in your athletics, but I support this arena, I have listened to the dialogue and have researched what has gone on regarding the arena for five years. I have looked into other communities and the effect their arenas had on them, and I have seen a profound amount of positives with very few negatives. Council members it's time
Scott April 09, 2011 at 12:12 AM
I wonder why everybody always say in other communities? Hint maybe you should live in that community. I made a mistake posting here today I thought if I added a comment opposing the arena more people would voice there thoughts. But instead I been refered to as backward thinking and ignorant or uninformed. I guess being a local tax payer with a different opinion means I'm wrong. Sorry to have offended anyone. I just call it as I see it.
Tony Scharlau April 09, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Scott I post a view like yours and got the same result. I moved from the Wayzata Scool dist to here in '01. I liked this one because people valued the use of the peoples money. A ballot came up about the add on then, voted down. Another one came to increase the funding per student to a very high amount, voted down. It came bake with a middle of the road and passed. The school dist does a great job of using our money wisely. Have we had to increase class sizes because of the value of homes going down or the empty houses. No because they do a great job. They came out and said it is a bad time to ask for money when the dist can't help to pay for it. Has any one driving a road in the metro area or in Minneapolis with all the pot-holes? I have, I think the city is doing a great job of using our money because I don't see all the pot-holes around here. So if people are questioning so we have the money for this, ask yourself a question, has my home value gone up at all in the last 3 years. If no then less money coming in for all the other stuff.
Brent Bjorlin April 09, 2011 at 02:54 AM
Dear Scott and Tony, Your opinions are very valuable. There are always two sides to any funding proposal. It's an emotional issue and being on the side of hockey it's been frustrating. We see millions of dollars of land allocated for baseball, soccer and football fields which we support. We see millions of dollars allocated to wrestling, basketball, volleyball and track which we support. We see annual expenses for cutting grass, painting field lines and maintenance which we support. Without infrastructure, why would anybody else move here. But hockey has always been asked to fund their sport. St. Michael pays out over $50,000 a year in maintenance for baseball and soccer - their hockey maintenance expense $0.00. Is that fair. How many people are actually using the new library and senior center, which we supported to the tune of $2.3 million. If you want taxes to go down, we need to encourage more people to move here and you do that by providing a parks system that supports young families. Albertville has been very supportive of looking for ways to get a new rink done with minimum expense to tax payers and maximum return for local businesses. As a St. Michale resident, I'm disappointed that our city has done nothing to provide the same. My final point would be to ask residents if less than a $1 a month is too much to pay to support a project that benefits over 1500 local kids and adults? I'll even offer to pay Scott and Tony's bill each moth if they would get on board
A Dad April 10, 2011 at 01:22 AM
I think this would be great for the city!!!! Anything to bring money to our local business' and keep our kids active and out of trouble. Sign me up!!!
Rick April 10, 2011 at 01:50 PM
I say if there is going to be a tax, and it's a TAX, not a "fee" or "user cost", "assessment" or some other cute title, then BOTH city councils need to hammer this out. Does St. Michael even get involved since the facility is on Albertville land? I've already opined that the school district should not be involved in any part of this btw. If BOTH cities are involved, then the tax should be based on property value rather than unfairly impacting a whole group whose household income may be markedly less than another residents. Keep in mind, $22 to some people is $222 to others. Next, look to Monticello for example. Their hockey association holds: meat raffles, bingo nights, pull tabs, fish frys, silent auctions and they are 100% sustainable through those fund raising activites. I might add that they are extremely popular. Maybe the City Council could reach out and invite a member of Monticellos hockey association to the next meeting? Don't get me wrong. I skate, I use the rink myself for open skate as do my kids. I'm all for expansion. But I view some very narrow sightedness here as do some of the other writers, that "if it works for me, great" attitude. Rather than assessing a TAX on everyone, fund raising and other options should be looked at first.
Scott B April 10, 2011 at 07:49 PM
To Tony Scharlau Tony, it was nice meeting you at the annual Albertville Open House on Saturday morning. I appreciate the discussion we had about this topic, and the concerns we shared amongst us. It was eye opening to me how valuable of an event that was, and the discussion and learning that can take place amongst the other activities there. I expressed to Larry and Tina that I thought it was great. That was a tremendous community gathering! Scott Berning
A Dad April 14, 2011 at 03:45 PM
As a employee in the retail industry (close to a indoor arena) I am baffled about how much opposition this is facing. Some people dont realize how much money a facility such as this brings in to the area. My employer gets a tournament schedule (car show, craft show, dog show etc.) in advance to properly staff. I understand there is tax dollars involved, but the money and pride is priceless for a community. Reading some of these negative thoughts makes me wonder how your outlet mall ever got built. It sounds like your two cities are happy to just be a 70 mile a hour blur to somewhere else.
Scott April 14, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I'm proud of the school board and a few councilmen that stood up and said no. We cant right now. As Obama said "We will all need to make sacrifices" . Do we really need a hockey areana right now?
Ken Smiley April 14, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Has anyone ever said how long this tax will be enacted, will it end when the arena is paid for, I don't want to be paying for a tax that is lifetime on an arena.
Rick April 14, 2011 at 11:26 PM
@ Ken Smiley, exactly. Please see my comments above/ 11:38am on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 @ A Dad. I don't know how you can be "baffled." You work in the retail industry, you should be pretty cognnizant of taxation and competition. This proposed arena is all about taxes (note, members want this assessed in one way or another against homeowners, not businesses etc. Both groups at this time should not be bearing additional burden of more taxes. Just look at what a total mess the federal budget is in, let alone the states. And Albertville recently cut hours of staff and City Hall is closed on Fridays to save money) . You may state "money and pride are priceless" but it doesn't ring true if a cities infrastructure costs come secondary. How do you get to the ice rink if the roads aren't plowed??? I've stated numerous times, and this is a glittering example of why gvmt should not be involved in endeavours such as this. If the rink was privately funded, this whole discussion would be moot.
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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