Residents Speak in Favor of Watershed Sales Tax

Six area residents expressed support Monday night for the renewal of the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s half-percent sales tax.

A public forum was held at the Albert Lea City Council meeting on the sales tax.

Brian Hensley, member of the Albert Lea Lakes Foundation and an Albert Lea resident, said the Watershed District has done a lot of quality projects in the last 11 years.

He read a letter that proclaimed past support for the tax and described the success the sales tax has had in leveraging funds.

Hensley mentioned a Change.org petition to renew the sales tax that 84 people have signed.

The district’s request is to extend the current sales tax for either another 15 years or until $15 million has been collected. The funds are used for projects to improve area lakes.

Albert Lea resident Jason Howland, an avid fisherman, said he enjoys having Fountain Lake in the area and credited the Watershed District with improving water quality in the lake.

Albert Lea resident Ken Petersen spoke in support of the renewal and stressed that knowing the Watershed District’s goal of clean water is the most important aspect of the renewal, not things that have happened in the past.

Brad Arends, Albert Lea resident and Alliance Benefit Group president and CEO, spoke in favor of the renewal and said Watershed District projects will attract people to the community due to the project’s efforts to increase water quality.

Albert Lea resident Gary Hagen said he supports renewal but expressed concern that Fountain Lake dredging hasn’t begun yet.

The City Council must approve final ballot language before the sales tax extension request is sent to the state. The city also needs to hold a public vote and gain state approval before the tax is renewed.

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007