The Albertville City Council opted not to add a second voting precinct, instead choosing to host the city’s one polling location at a larger site at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West.
The council also heard that a dehumidification and insulation project at the ice arena came in significantly over budget.
City clerk Kim Olson updated the board about staff’s proposal to add a second voting precinct or to move the polling location to a larger building. The third option is to take no action and keep the polling location at its present site in city hall.
Olson said capital funds have been set aside to assist with costs related to purchasing additional equipment for the polling location. She cited several issues with the current polling location, including congestion to lines and booths, not being able to accommodate voters during peak hours, fire safety precautions and parking issues.
Olson noted that the city currently has almost 4,000 registered voters, and that the best practices in election administration suggest a polling location have no more than 2,000 registered voters. She also said that Albertville has one of the largest precincts in Wright County, and is larger than all precincts in neighboring Hennepin, Meeker, Sherburne and Stearns counties.
“Elections are closely scrutinized each year and having adequate space and conditions helps to ensure a successful election,” Olson noted as a key issue.
Mayor Jillian Hendrickson and the council were concerned that creating a second precinct could cause confusion, especially on election day. The council also wants to keep Albertville’s small town feel.
The council thus unanimously approved a resolution moving the city’s one precinct to Middle School West.
Postal verification cards will be sent to all registered voters informing them that the polling location has changed.
In other news, the board took action regarding improvements to the STMA Ice Arena, which is jointly funded by the school district and cities of Albertville and St. Michael.
City administrator Adam Nafstad noted in his report to the council that bids were opened last month for the dehumidification project. The project was bid as two primary bid packages (insulation and dehumidification).
The budget was for $545,000, and Nafstad said quotes came in quite a bit high.
“The total project bid exceeds the estimated project cost significantly,” he said, noting the bids and quotes came in approximately $150,000 more than estimated.
He said the cost of the dehumidification improvement alone is $239,222 plus fees.
“From a staff (Albertville) perspective, it is believed that moving forward with
dehumidification alone is a viable option,” he said. “Both the architect and mechanical engineer have stated that dehumidification alone will correct the majority of the condensation issue, and it appears that including the insulation component (even if re-bid) will have budget impacts that will need to be addressed.”
Nafstad estimated Albertville’s share of the improvements to be $145,000, paid through interfund loans over five years through budgeted reserves.
Councilor Dan Wagner, who sits on the arena board, said the board is proposing small hourly rate increases. The council wishes to hold the rate increase and would prefer the three entities budget capital needs every year.
The council ended up approving a resolution accepting the low bid of $224,000 for installation of the dehumidification system and rejecting the insulation bid.
In other action, the council:
APPROVED a motion authorizing liquor retail sales for the STMA Youth Hockey “Knight to Remember” event planned for March 22 at the ice arena.