Watershed Officials Plan Approach to Inform Public

Shell Rock River Watershed District officials are looking to use a multi-faceted media approach to inform the public of the progress of the Fountain Lake dredging prior to November’s ballot measure to extend the district’s half-percent sales tax.

Administrator Brett Behnke said he wants to educate the public on where the district is at in the dredging process beyond its current outreach, noting he thinks the public needs to know the importance extending the half-percent sales tax would have on the Watershed District.

The Watershed District’s board of managers discussed the marketing and facilitating of the dredging project Tuesday.

The district’s request is to extend the sales tax for either 15 years or until $15 million has been collected. The money goes toward water quality improvements.

State approval must still be secured. Pending voter approval, the extension is planned to be approved by the Legislature in 2017.

Behnke said district officials have been in contact with consultant Mariah Lynne, formerly of The Marketing Plant, to help the district reach demographics that Behnke said are not always reached through typical media sources.

He said outreach will be done through the district’s Twitter and Facebook site, attracting people to look at its site and honing its message to voters.

Behnke noted though support has been expressed for the extension, officials are in a time-crunch after the Albert Lea City Council last month approved having the extension on November’s election ballot.

District officials had pushed for the extension to be on a special election ballot in November 2017 to give them more time to educate the public on projects and to react if the Legislature changes legislative language.

Workshops are planned to inform the public and board of managers of the project throughout the next six months

Behnke said the district is aiming for dredging to begin in 2017.
© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007