SUBSCRIBE NOW AND SAVE 3 months just 99¢/month



'The year of ribbon cutting and groundbreaking': Detroit Lakes Mayor highlights growth in State of the City address

Mayor Matt Brenk delivered a 'more positive' State of the City address for 2021 at the most recent city council meeting held on Jan. 11. Brenk highlighted the return to a sense of normalcy with the busy schedule of summer events; major projects like the new Becker County Museum building and the opening of the Detroit Lakes Police Station; and the adding of 33 new homes to Detroit Lakes over the course of the year.

Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk delivers his State of the City address during the city council meeting on Jan. 11, 2022. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk delivered a "more positive" State of the City address on Tuesday.

At the conclusion of the Jan. 11 city council meeting, Brenk showcased how far the city came in 2021 compared to the pandemic year of 2020.

"While we are still coping with the challenges that we all face, I think we can all agree that thankfully 2021 had a different, more positive feel than 2020," said Brenk during the meeting. "Our local economy has rebounded in a big way; still facing challenges with material shortages and workforce issues, but overall, throughout the past two years we have managed to persevere."

Brenk went on to say that 2021 could be called "the year of 'Ribbon Cutting and Groundbreaking,'" due to the start, and completion of, major large-scale city projects, including:

  • the new Becker County Museum
  • the new Detroit Lakes Police Station
  • the new wastewater treatment facility
  • completion of the airport's runway expansion project
  • construction of the new South Shore Park
  • the opening of the Heartland Trail from Detroit Lakes to Frazee, and
  • the city's 150th birthday celebration throughout the year.

The new construction housing market, Brenk said, also experienced "solid" growth in 2021, with 33 new homes built last year in Detroit Lakes.
"Overall construction valuation, which includes residential, commercial and remodeling projects totaled approximately $39 million, the second highest total in the past 12 years," he said. "Remarkably, in that same period, 445 new homes have been constructed in the city of Detroit Lakes."


Brenk then gave updates on all the city's various departments. For administration, he highlighted the hard work, planning and execution of the city's 150th birthday celebrations in addition to their normal duties. The finance department received a Certificate of Achievement for excellence in financial reporting and is currently planning all the necessary steps for the city to spend $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Brenk also pointed to the upcoming 10.2% levy increase and what taxpayers will be getting for their extra tax dollars.

"The (Housing and Redevelopment Authority) levy will generate approximately $120,000 annually and will help upgrade and retrofit 10 to 12 older homes in the city each year, helping citizens stay in their homes and preserving much needed housing stock," he said. "The balance of the levy increase accounted for a new full-time parks department employee and contingencies for additional decreases in Local Government Aid funding."

As Detroit Lakes continues to grow, he said, the tax base continues to expand, which spreads the tax burden over more residents each year.

"We are certainly fortunate to live in a city with such tremendous amenities and quality of life while enjoying an overall tax rate that is one of the lowest compared to our peer cities in the region and in the state of Minnesota," said Brenk.

He went on to thank the city staff, commission members, board members and other volunteers for their time and their decisions to keep the city progressing into the future.

"I think it is fair to say that Detroit Lakes continues to be a destination place and a vibrant city (in which) to live, work and recreate," said Brenk.


Members of the Detroit Lakes City Council smile for a group photo after their regular meeting on Jan. 11, 2022. From the left: Ron Zeman, Alderman Ward One; Aaron Dallmann, Alderman at Large; Wendy Spry, Alderman Ward Two; Dan Josephson, Alderman Ward Three; Matt Brenk, Mayor; Madalyn Sukke, Alderman at Large; Matt Boeke, Alderman Ward Three; Jamie Marks Erickson, Alderman Ward Two; Natalie Bly, Alderman at Large; Dan Wenner, Alderman Ward One. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

What to read next