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LETTER: City plans for next five to 50 years

The Alexandria City Council and Mayor Sara Carlson recently met at the Legacy of the Lakes Museum for a strategic planning session. The museum offered the meeting space free of charge. Members include (left to right) Todd Jensen, Bobbie Osterberg, Mayor Carlson, Dave Benson, Bob Kuhlman and Virgil Batesole. (Contributed)

Fall in Alexandria! There is no place more beautiful that this area in the fall! The changing colors are really amazing and we are truly blessed to have lakes and trails amongst the countryside to see the beautiful colors changing.

There is the culmination of months of hard work in many areas of our city and the anticipation of the start of others. As our beautiful flowers begin to fade in the parks, the final street projects are getting wrapped up in the next month or so. As much as I hate to say it the snow plows are being readied — just in case.

Our preliminary budget is in and although we will continue to work on refining it, we have taken a no-nonsense approach working on the basics of running city government. Taking care of our streets, roads and keeping our community safe. Essential services like police and fire are priorities to us, along with keeping roads clear and in good driving condition. You can look at our website and check out our budget and the new look and explanation of departments and what they do, as well as where your tax dollar goes.

We spent part of two days working on our strategic plan, setting our priorities with department heads and city partners. Narrowing down our priorities and putting them into categories was a difficult task. However, we focused in on six strategic areas, each having many areas within them to work on. There will be measurable goals and attainable work areas for each of the areas. The areas are:

• Communication — dealing with all areas of communication starting with the general public, the council, staff and improving all those relationships. This will be in speaking, written and electronic areas.

• Economic development — we continue to prioritize working to help this area grow and find enough workforce and housing for this area.

• Sustainable infrastructure — making sure that all our buildings, streets and utilities are working well and being maintained effectively and efficiently.

• Safe community— this is our police and fire and all areas dealing with them. This is a large area and a huge priority both in the budget and to our constituents. We need to make sure that we are delivering the best services that we can in a rapidly changing technological world.

• Operational effectiveness — this area checks how we are doing operating systems and departments efficiently, both inter-governmentally and with other entities.

• Long-term planning — we looked at making sure we have long-range visioning for where the city will be five, 10, 25 and 50 years years down the road to plan for the very best way to have the city grow.

Partnerships with community entities and individual groups is a priority for the city. We work well with everyone — even if we were to disagree — and we are always at the table working to make sure that we listen and learn what our community needs. Our community is fortunate to include a hospital, a community college, a great school district and manufacturers that are incredible to work with and give back to this community, as well as countless other entities that are nonprofit or cooperative in so many ways to help our community. We are truly fortunate.

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities will hold its annual conference here November 16-17. We are proud to host this conference where Minnesota cities get together and conference attendees adopt the coalition's policy positions and priorities for the 2018 legislative session. Every fall the coalition holds its conference here in Alexandria and we are so pleased they choose Alexandria so we can showcase how great we are to the cities in the state and do some good work at the same time! It's wonderful to have city officials here and some plan to come back for vacations later!

Have a terrific fall and a fun and safe Halloween from all of us at the city of Alexandria.

Sara Carlson is the mayor of Alexandria. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.