Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, November 2, 1998

Lester Prairie city office candidates


Ed Mlynar

Candidate for Lester Prairie Mayor

Why run for this office again?

Two years ago when I ran for mayor, I had a number of goals for the city. Most of these have been accomplished which would include:

l. Reduction in property taxes for home owners and businesses as well.

2. Friendly annexation to the city for commercial/industrial purposes in two areas.

3. Retention of business with Formative Engineering in our city.

4. Development of the second phase for residential development in Prairie Meadows.

5. Street improvements in our downtown area, two blocks of Juniper in a cost effective way.

The one goal remaining is the need for additional residential developments for the city.

This would be done through friendly annexations to the city. I have been in contact with a number of builders and developers during the past year.

I would envision this to be a substantial development that would benefit our city.

 

What is the most important issue in Lester Prairie you would like to take action on?

This is the one remaining goal that I have already mentioned above, residential developments. The state, county, and city are all in dire need of affordable housing. I would also want to see some above average housing taking place in this development, because of the added tax base.

The first question asked by many is, "What will this do to my present taxes?" We currently have a waste water treatment plant, city wells, and water tower that would take care of another 150 homes.

It is my feeling that that the city should not subsidize any developer, therefore, no increase in taxes to homes or businesses in our city.

The one area of concern is what may or could happen to the public school taxes if a major addition is needed 5-10 years down the road.

Discussions have taken place with the local school board as to what the impact may be. It appears that more of our state taxes are being used for education. It may be that there would be little or no increase in school taxes, but who knows, I don't.

The downtown business district and the community will benefit with any population growth. We may even be able to entice some one to re-open the Pastimes Restaurant. This development must be done with caution. We don't want to end up as another Cambridge, which was over developed and over-bonded to the extent that the State had to help them out.

My goal would be to accomplish this in the next two years and you would not see my name on the ballot again.

Is there a certain direction you would like the city to take in in the next four years?

Three to four years ago, the tax rate for the City of Lester Prairie was the second highest in the county. This is the combination of county, school, and city taxes as they appear on your tax statement.

This is not a good situation for any city. Most families or businesses that are looking at relocating in you city will ask what the taxes are on the property. If everything else is equal, and your taxes are much higher, the city will lose because of high taxes.

During the past three years we have been able to hold the line, and better yet, are now in a much better position in the county, being fifth highest.

The preliminary budget for 1999 has been submitted with approximately a 15 percent increase. This is contrary to my better judgement.

I feel that our budget has to be reviewed and adjusted to a figure closer to our 1998 figure. This is why we have Truth in Taxation Hearings in November.

It becomes extremely important that we hold the line on taxes for the next four years and into the future.

If our taxes are "sky high," very few people will buy homes in a new development, or the homes that we now own and plan to sell in the future. The same applies to any new business thinking of coming to our city.

How much should city government be involved in economic development?

A good example of economic development is what happened in our city this past year. Formative Engineering of our city asked the city what it could do for them. The city proceeded with a friendly annexation with Bergen Township for the property.

The city was able to create Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts for the improvement of the property and other construction costs. In addition, a revolving loan fund in the amount of $100,000 was received from the State of Minnesota.

These can again be used by the City as the loan is paid back. They can be used by other businesses, providing they qualify. We already have commercial/industrial property to the east of the city, and more is available.

A repeat of what was done for Formative Engineering providing they qualified, would be in order for any business interested.

Are you willing to participate in community and city events? comments?

I have always made myself available in community and city events. I am not a member of every organization in the community.

I've been in city government for 12 years, and in recent years being your mayor, has become a "near full time mayor." It does not allow the time to be a member of every organization.

To the organizations that I am a member, I have always tried to do my share of the work. This past year I tried to help the Longhorn Days event, and would continue to do so.

I have been doing this for the past 45 - 50 years, and have no reason to change now.

Are there any law enforcement concerns you want to see addressed?

The city has been extremely fortunate up to now and I do not have any concerns about enforcement.


Stan Ehrke

Candidate for Lester Prairie City Council

Why run for this office?

Plain and simple - I still enjoy the job. After 20 years as councilman, I gave some serious thought about running for a sixth term. But the decision was fairly easy - if you enjoy what you are doing, there's no reason not to run.

My only regret is that I cannot devote more time to the job as I would like. But I guess that's the same with all people, unless one is retired.

What is the most important issue in Lester Prairie you would like to take action on?

It is probably not the most important issue, but it ranks very close to the top. Our storm sewer system has reached is normal useful life. We have 13 blocks of storm sewer mains that were installed decades ago and are now breaking up. We have taken care of two such mains on Central Avenue and First St. N., but we have Second Ave. N. and Second Ave. S. left to do.

There is not a cheap solution, but with proper planning and maintenance over the next 5-6 years. we can replace these mains with little impact on city taxes.

One other issue that we are planning for is installing water and sewer utilities at the same time that County Road 1 (old highway 261) is reconstructed.

Is there a certain direction you would like the City to take in the next four years?

Lester Prairie has always been known as a clean city with well kept lawns, yards, houses and streets. As for the most part, this is still true today. But there are some areas that need attention.

The city must put together ordinances and/or programs to address these areas.

How much should city government be involved in economic development?

The City has to stay involved in economic development. My feeling is that by sustained growth in housing, support businesses will follow. We would be foolish to think that we can compete with the shopping malls.

Let's face it - people love to shop at the large malls. The city council has the skill ~ to develop housing developments but I think the expertise for developing support businesses would come from the people who know it best - the person that owns their own business.

Are you willing to participate in community and city events?

I have always been willing to participate community and city events. One thing we must be careful of is that we don't always ask the same people to participate.

Considering the time spent over council duties, there is just so much time left over for other activities.

I feel we must get other people involved in these activities. Looking back at our bicentennial in 1976 and then our own centennial in 1986? We have a lot of talent and skills that we can draw from other members of the community.

Are there any law enforcement concerns you want to see addressed?

I have not discussed any law enforcement concerns with either the city council or the police department at this time.


Larry Peterson

Candidate for Lester Prairie City Council

Why run for this office again?

I have been doing it for a number of years. I think I'm doing a good job. I can plan for the things we need and find funds for things we need in a emergency by planning and saving for those replacement items.

What is the most important issue in Lester Prairie you would like to take action on?

The need to run water lines, planing for upgrades on County Road 1 and housing expansion is important.

Is there a certain direction you would like the city to take in the next four years?

I would love to see real estate expansion first because the tax base is better. Industry is important, but industries are taxed at a lower rate. If you can't provide the housing, you can't attract industry.

How much should city government be involved in economic development?

We have annexed land on the east along County Road 9 for industrial development. We have already developed 13 acres.

Are there any law enforcement concerns you want to see addressed?

Big city problems are coming into our small town atmosphere and people need to be educated on how to deal with them. Look toward the future with an open mind and open eyes.


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