In the Know: Body cams, budgets and baseball


School will have started as you read this — you may wonder as I do — where did the summer go. The city was certainly busy with tourists and people out and about. I know it was one of our busiest seasons ever.

The fair was a grand success and the joint paving venture was greatly appreciated by all fair goers. We are finishing up all our construction projects — Agnes Blvd will not be finished until October — but, Phase I is done and open and looks great!

The budget committee has been hard at work since April and is ready to present a preliminary budget the end of September. This budget can be lowered but, not raised with its final acceptance in December. Weekly meetings with all the departments and others requesting assistance from the city have all occurred. One of the things that the council would like to add to this next year's budget are body cams or Portable Recording Systems. The council supports these devices and we know they keep officers safe and validate situations that occur. We are in the process of finding the money for them.

A reminder before the election — don't forget to vote your choice. Your vote does matter and is so important at all levels.

Meet Mike Weber

My person of this column is Mike Weber, our old City Planner and our new Community Development Director — same position, different job title. Here is what he has to say:

"I'm never shy about telling people that I have the best job in town. What does a Community Development Director do? The short answer is, 'Helps manage the city's growth to meet the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan.' The longer answer is, 'The Community Development Director is responsible for leadership and management direction for current and long range planning, design and plan review, building safety inspections, code and zoning regulations as well as regulatory compliance.' Our division includes the Building Department, the rental registration and inspection program and its consulting inspector from the Alexandria HRA, and the planning and zoning function, with an administrative assistant and myself. Each year the division processes over 1,200 permit applications for buildings (new and remodel), plumbing/heating/air conditioning, fences, signs and land uses with a value of about $50 million.

"Still, those numbers don't really tell the story of why I have best job in the city. What it really comes down to for me is helping people. Every day we get the chance to maybe help a contractor solve a tricky stormwater problem on a construction job site. Or we have the chance to help a homeowner who lives next door to a nuisance property get some relief by making sure the lawn gets mowed, or the garbage gets hauled away. Or we work with a developer who is hoping to bring new jobs, or new housing to Alexandria by making sure they're choosing the right location and that they have the resources to make that project a success. Just last week I had the opportunity to arrange a meeting with a developer and his team reviewing a very raw, very preliminary project plan. We had representatives from ALP Utilities, ALASD, the Alexandria Fire Department, the Economic Development Commission, our Public Works Department, city administrative and engineering staff, two private utility companies, and a private surveyor, all gathered around the same table.

The developer's architect told me after the meeting that there wasn't another community of our size in the state that would have been willing or able to pull that diverse group of people together, and that's one more reason they were excited about potentially working here — we know teamwork!

"As for what makes me happy when I'm off the clock; I have a great passion for baseball, at all levels. My Classic Clippers team celebrated its silver anniversary season in 2018 with a fourth-place finish in the Class A bracket of our state tournament. In 2016 we were the Class C Champions and last year we were runners-up in Class B. I love baseball for the same reasons I love my job — they're both a chance to be part of a team working toward common goals.

"Being part of 'something bigger' is also something the whole community can do, since we're in the process of updating our Comprehensive Plan. We have the next 20, 30, 40 years to envision, to create, and it takes everyone sharing their knowledge, their ideas, and their energy to make something that big happen. I hope residents will be involved with that process — just call me at City Hall (320-759-3626) to find out how!"

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