Alexandria extends emergency declaration

Council member Todd Jensen voted against the extension. He said that approving the measure sends the wrong message to local businesses that are struggling to survive.

Alexandria City Hall

For the ninth time since the pandemic began, the city extended its declaration of a local emergency because of the COVID-19.

The city first ratified Mayor Sara Carlson’s declaration on March 18 and extended it monthly for nine months. This latest action extends it through Jan. 31, 2021.

Council member Todd Jensen voted against the extension. He said that approving the measure sends the wrong message to local businesses that are struggling to survive.

Mayor Carlson said that extending the declaration gives the city more flexibility such as holding meetings through Zoom video conferencing and is separate from Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders for restrictions on restaurants.

“This doesn’t condone what the governor is doing,” Carlson said, adding that it wasn’t a partisan issue.


Following are other items from the Dec. 28 meeting that were not included in other council stories.

HVAC improvements at Bellanca Building

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the former Bellanca Building at the Alexandria Airport may soon be repaired.

The council authorized Airport Manager Kreg Anderson to get bids for the work, which is the third phase of a major renovation of the building.

If the bids are favorable, the council agreed to pay for half of the cost of the $362,000 project and the Minnesota Department of Transportation would cover the rest.

Street agreement revised

The council voted to revise the engineering agreement for the city’s 2020 street and utility improvements.

It now includes three areas that required additional engineering services that were beyond the scope of the original agreement. This included a separate bid of the Darling/Maple project, a redesign of the Darling/Maple project because of utility conflicts, and a redesign related to the extension of the storm sewer on Woodland Park Drive.

The total cost of the additional engineering work was $21,092.

Building official grant

The council formally accepted a grant from the Department of Labor and Industry for a building official training program.


The grant provides $130,000 to cover $65,000 per year salary and benefits for two years.

The city has budgeted $10,000 in 2021 to cover additional costs during the first year, and a similar amount will be budgeted for 2022.

New skid loader for RCC

The council agreed to purchase a Kubota skid loader from Alex Power Equipment for $38,205. It will be used at the Runestone Community Center.

The price includes the trade-in of an existing 2001 model.

Wage bump for city employees

The council approved a resolution to increase the wages of city employees by 1.5% in 2021.

It also updated the city’s job classifications, compensation plan and performance system administrative policy.

In a related action, the council voted to submit a state-required report that shows the city is complying with the Local Government Pay Equity Act of 1984.

Fairgrounds discussion continues

The city is continuing discussion with representatives from the Fair Board about the long-range plan for the Douglas County Fairgrounds property.


In the last month, discussions on a property transfer have broadened to include Douglas County, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz, who addressed the issue in a memo to the council.

The county is interested in acquiring, rather than leasing, the land under and surrounding the water patrol building, Schultz said. The county also owns a strip of land north of the public works building and south of Viking Speedway, and Fair Board representatives are interested in acquiring this property.

Schultz added this has slowed down the process somewhat, as staff is now reviewing how a sale, rather than a lease, of the water patrol building would impact the parameters of an agreement that were previously approved by the council this summer.

Making city processes more modern

City staff is looking into modernizing the city’s registration and licensing processes.

Several staff members have viewed a demo for a product called Docusign that would automate signature processes, increase efficiency, eliminate paper and improve workflow visibility, according to Schultz.

The cost of $4,364 annually is based on replacing 1,000 envelopes.

Schultz brought the item up an informational and will follow up with a report next year on how the process is working.

Change in noise ordinance approved

The council gave final approval to change the city’s noise ordinance code.


The code has some confusing wording that posed issues when dealing with citations issued through the section, according to Schultz.

The amended code deals with radios, phonographs, musical instruments and other sound producing instruments. The code now states such devices should not disturb “the peace, quiet and comfort of the neighboring inhabitants or at any time with louder volume than is necessary for convenient hearing for the person or persons who are in the room, vehicle or chamber in which such machine or device is located. Any such sounds occurring between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. in such a manner so as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the building, structure or vehicle in which it is located shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section.”

Closed session

For the second time this month, the council closed a portion of its meeting to discuss ongoing negotiations with the Alexandria Police Department’s unions for patrol officers and sergeants.

The action is allowed under Minnesota’s open meeting laws. The closed session was recorded.

The existing labor agreements expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

Contractor fees

The council gave final approval to an ordinance that amends the renewal fee for contractors and installers from $50 to $100.

While reviewing city code regarding mechanical contractors and installers, city staff noticed that their fees didn’t match up with the city’s current fee schedule.

The schedule was amended several years ago so the initial fee and the renewal fee were the same, $100.


Fund transfers

As it typically does at the end of the year, the council approved a resolution to transfer funds to reconcile city records.

The transfers include $21,400 from the employee benefit fund to the general fund; funds from the storm water utility fund to the debt service fund; funds from the capital improvement fund into the municipal state aid fund; and funds from the public works equipment fund to cover public works’ lease payments.

Liquor fee change

The council gave preliminary approval to change city code that regulates the public display, mixing and consumption of intoxicating liquor.

The code mentions a licensing fee of $150. This will be eliminated and the fee will match the most current fee schedule, according to city staff.

Liquor licenses issued

Redbird’s Sports Grill received an on-sale and Sunday liquor license from the council.

Several other liquor licenses were approved at the council’s last meeting on Dec. 14.

Also, Art Bar 39 received a set-up license.


Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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