Public meetings, unless there is a controversial issue on the agenda, are boring and not worth attending, right?

Wrong.

Some very interesting information comes out of those local school board, city council and county board meetings.

All you have to do is to give them a try. Go to the meetings, pay attention, and you can learn a few things – such as did-you-know tidbits that are worth some thought and sharing with others.

At the Sept. 27 Alexandria City Council meeting, for instance, City Administrator Marty Schultz shared some “fun facts” while going over the proposed 2022 budget and levy. Did you know that:

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  • The Alexandria Police Department, which makes up the biggest slice of the budget pie, responded to 16,204 calls in 2020? That’s more than 44 calls a day. So far in 2021, police have responded to 11,707 calls, just about the same average as last year.

  • The Alexandria Fire Department responded to 199 calls last year and 62 of them were for active fires.

  • At the Runestone Community Center, the zambonis put on the same amount of miles that it would take to drive to California.

  • The city street department’s sweepers collect about 700 yards of sediment a year. It’s recycled into class-5 materials for future road projects.

  • The Alexandria Park Department maintains 250 acres of parks. There are 22 city parks, three parking lots and 20,000 flowering plants to tend to.

  • The Alexandria Airport was once known as “Raiter’s Pasture.” Planes were allowed to land in any direction. It certainly wasn’t as busy back then. Today, the airport is the 13th busiest among all 134 public airports in the state.

  • The city’s building department serves an area that’s spread over 171 square miles. This includes 18 miles in the city, 30 miles in the two-mile radius outside the city limits, and 24 miles in Alexandria Township.

  • The assessor’s office reports that sales of mobile home parks are rare but two took place this year. The office also noted that the median sale price of homes in Alexandria is $230,000 – $20,000 more than last year.

  • The city received a total of $1,462,600 under the federal American Rescue Plan Act, known as ARPA.

  • You can now shop online at the two city-owned liquor stores by going to www.alexandrialiquor.com.

  • ALP Utilities, the city-owned utility that provides water, power and other services, pays the city about $1 million each year in lieu of taxes. The payment is based on kilowatts sold.

  • The Runestone Community Center received $473,267 in ice rental fees, which go into the city’s budget.

  • Alexandria’s tax base grew 20.7% from 2018 to 2022. Collecting those new taxes helps keep everybody’s taxes down.

Alexandria City Council meetings are held the second and fourth Monday of each month, starting at 7 p.m. at city hall, 704 Broadway.

Another way to stay tuned to what’s happening in the city is to go to the city council’s “Park Talks” in the City Park picnic shelter. It’s a great way to talk informally with a council member about any questions, concerns or ideas you may have for the city. The next one is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m.

And one last thing: At the start of every city council meeting, Mayor Bobbie Osterberg notes that city staff and elected officials can be contacted at publicinput@alexandriamn.city.

We’re fortunate to have a city council that shares interesting information beyond mere numbers, and is transparent while encouraging residents to get involved.