Albert Lea City council urges Gov. to call special session over bond, tax bills

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(ABC 6 News) – The Albert Lea City Council met Monday to discuss some key issues, one being a resolution in support of urging Minnesota Gov. Walz to call a special session of the Legislature to work in a bipartisan way to pass a Bonding Bill and Tax Bill that includes an increase in local government aid.

The council passed the resolution to ask Walz for this special session to get state funding.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. said the Bonding Bill is a big deal for a lot of cities in Minnesota, not just Albert Lea because there are a lot of communities trying to get big projects accomplished.

For Albert Lea, the big project that would need state funding is the wastewater treatment plant project which last year was estimated to cost $60 million. However, the city anticipates it to be even more this year due to inflation. Albert Lea is asking the state for $30 million to help solve that problem.

"Well I think that you’re seeing a groundswell from a lot of communities looking to try to get this accomplished so hopefully the governor will be listening to that or at least see that it’s important that the two groups can come together and get a good resolution for all of us," Mayor Rasmussen Jr., said. "We really feel it’s important that the state of Minnesota finishes their business so that we can continue to work our business."

Both Albert Lea and Austin are trying to accomplish these big wastewater treatment plant projects. The Austin City Council approved a $105 million bid for the city’s wastewater treatment plant project earlier this month. Last year the project was estimated to cost about $76 million, but the price spiked significantly due to inflation for both Albert Lea and Austin projects.

The Albert Lea City Council also rejected its only bid for the demolition of two historic buildings on Broadway Ave. That bid was over $700,000 to demolish the buildings at 324 and 332 S. Broadway Ave. The council now has to consider options such as removing the unstable part of the buildings immediately and will then be taking new bids to take down the rest of the buildings over the winter.

Also approved on Monday night was a resolution to purchase two new police squad vehicles.