Alexandria levy increase is smallest in a decade

Owners of a home valued at $160,000 would see their city taxes drop 4.3% – from $646.46 to $618.71 if the value of the home stays the same. City taxes on a $300,000 commercial property would also decrease 4.3% – from $2,121.21 to $2,030.13.

A flag representing the city of Alexandria is located at City Hall and notes the community’s lakes.
A flag representing the city of Alexandria is located at City Hall and notes the community’s lakes.

Budgeting during the uncertainty of a pandemic is a challenge but Alexandria city leaders say they’ve crafted a budget that preserves the city’s financial position while still providing quality core services.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council approved a preliminary 2021 budget that calls for a 1.08% tax levy increase, the smallest increase in at least a decade, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz.

The levy will bump up to $7,381,920 – $78,911 more than this year’s levy.

Good news for taxpayers: The city’s share of taxes is expected to drop, Schultz said, because the city’s tax base continues to grow and property values are on the rise.

Owners of a home valued at $160,000 would see their city taxes drop 4.3% – from $646.46 to $618.71 if the value of the home stays the same. City taxes on a $300,000 commercial property would also decrease 4.3% – from $2,121.21 to $2,030.13.


Out of 22 non-metro, similar-sized cities in the state, Alexandria has the second lowest property taxes, according to the latest data from 2019, Schultz said.

The budget is poised to decrease $35,977, from $9,920,078 to $9,884,101.

As in past years, the police department is the biggest expense in the budget, amounting to $3,404,225, a decrease of $46,561 from this year’s budget.

Other budget categories include (this year’s amounts are in parenthesis):

General government (administration, assessor, legal, human resources, mayor and city council, elections, community development, planning commission, general government, insurance) – $2,534,292 ($2,558,408).

Streets – $1,394,282 ($1,335,807).

Parks – $725,765 ($770,334).

Runestone Community Center – $663,106 ($643,909).


Fire protection – $444,725 ($437,616).

Building department – $341,006 ($323,668).

Airport – $185,200 ($185,200).

Engineering – $95,000 ($85,000).

Recreation – $50,000 ($84,000).

Animal control – $23,000 ($22,100).

Senior Center – $15,000 ($15,000).

Emergency management – $8,500 ($8,250).


The budget and tax levy amounts may be decreased – but not increased – before the final budget is approved. The final adoption of the 2021 budget will take place after the truth-in-taxation hearing on Monday, Dec. 14, at 7:15 p.m.

Cleaner air, surfaces for city buildings?

The council tabled a plan to install new equipment for slowing the spread of COVID-19 in city-owned facilities.

The council received a quote of $39,495 to purchase touchless faucets and toilets in city facilities and another $67,800 quote for ionization filters. The equipment would be installed in existing HVAC systems in all city facilities, including City Hall, the Runestone Community Center, the police department and other buildings.

The federal government would pick up the cost because the expenditures qualify as eligible expenses of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The council tabled the issue until Oct. 12 because it wants more time to see if there are other projects using CARES funds that need to proceed as soon as possible due to material shortages.

The touchless faucets and toilets quote from Grainger would eliminate a common area touched by the public and staff, reducing the potential for surface transmission of COVID-19, according to city officials. The city would continue to regularly disinfect those areas.

The ionization filters quote from Apex Facility Solutions would remove any potential airborne particles, including COVID-19, city leaders said.

Smoother roads ahead

Ten streets in Alexandria will be smoother next year.


The council approved an engineering agreement for its list of local street improvement projects for 2021. The total cost for all the projects, with engineering, is $436,135. The city has budgeted $324,000 for the improvements so, depending on how bids come in, some projects may be pushed back to 2022.

The streets include:

First Avenue, Frontage Road to Park Street.

Lakeview Avenue, Nokomis to Kenwood Street.

City Park Road, Nokomis to the south end.

Natures Trail, Birch Avenue to the west end.

Birch Avenue, Natures Trail to Geneva Road.

Kenwood Street, Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue.


Jefferson Street, Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue.

Irving Street, Third Avenue to Fourth Avenue.

Seventh Avenue, Fillmore Street to Elm Street.

City Park parking lot.

The projects are included in the city’s capital improvement budget with $254,000 coming from state aid maintenance funds and $70,000 from the city’s street program paving levy.

Broadband services extended?

The council voted to support Charter Communications’ application to receive a grant through the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Program.

If the application is approved, broadband service would be added to 98 homes in the Burgen Sunrise development on the west side of Lake Burgen in the southeastern corner of the city. It’s a $185,000 construction project.

Council member Roger Thalman emphasized that the city would offer the same kind of support for broadband, no matter which company applied for the grant.


The service would offer speeds up to 940 mbps download and 35 mbps upload, which exceeds the state’s 2026 speed goals.

Charter is pursuing five broadband projects in the county, including Alexandria Township, the east side of Lake Burgen and the Lake Carlos area, but this was the only project that was partially in the city limits.

The resolution notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced the need for high-speed broadband for working from home and distance learning.

Big sidewalk project gets grant

The council received good news about its plan to extend the sidewalk south along Highway 29 from 34th Avenue near Plaza Liquors to 44th Avenue near Doolittles Woodfire Grill.

Its grant application to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s “local partnership program” to pay for the bulk of the project was approved.

The total cost of the 2023 sidewalk project is estimated at $448,300. The state grant will cover $414,108 and the remaining cost, $34,192 for the design engineering, would be eligible for state aid.

The 5-foot-wide sidewalk would be along the east side of the highway.

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven noted that the city’s long-term goal is to provide pedestrian access for the entire length of Highway 29 from the freeway to Third Avenue.

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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