Mayor Mike Scanlon discusses Dassel’s progress
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN Dassel Mayor Mike Scanlon recently sat down and talked with the newspaper regarding the positive changes taking place in the city and what residents can expect in 2012.
Positive changes seen
“I would say things are really progressing well in the city of Dassel,” said Scanlon, who is excited to see the former Hojies building being torn down and replaced with a 4,500-square-foot Casey’s General Store.
This will eliminate an empty building and add some employment to the town, he noted.
He is also happy that the city is partnering with ProWorks, Inc., to open a thrift store, Again & Again, in the open space next to the liquor store.
ProWorks will lease the space, which has mostly sat empty since the city purchased the building in 2007.
Not only is Scanlon pleased because the store will help generate revenue for the city, but the sales with also help augment ProWorks’ mission of providing both center-based and community-based adult day training and habilitation services.
“I think our partnership is going to be a good one for both sides,” Scanlon said.
Other positive changes have been the farmers market, which has grown in size over the last two years, as well as the continuing growth of businesses, all of which bring more people to town, Scanlon noted.
“We seem to be moving forward,” Scanlon said. “We’re happy to see that.”
Challenges for the city
The biggest challenge for the city currently is the Summit Hills development, which has gone through tax-forfeiture and is currently in the hands of Meeker County, Scanlon explained.
It will be going up for public sale Tuesday, April 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Meeker County Courthouse.
“The sale of that property is a huge thing for us,” Scanlon said, explaining the city can gain some of the estimated $390,000 in unpaid assessments on undeveloped lots.
The sale would help the city regain some of the money owed to it and “get somebody up there actually putting up houses, and start to see that development take off.”
Another challenge for the city of Dassel is the state legislature and what it will do as far as local government aid and the city’s levy authority, Scanlon said.
He referenced House File 1911, which would impose levy limits on local government and property tax increases would require voter approval.
“How are we supposed to provide core services, because the cost of doing business goes up every day it doesn’t go down,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon mentioned the elimination of the Homestead Market Value Credit. “Every city took a hit on that one.”
“The biggest thing the city council can, and has done is control the levy,” Scanlon said, adding that the city only raised it $30,000 in three years.
He explained that the city has gone through the budget and cut where it could and made changes in service providers that ultimately contributed to a total of $107,000 that was cut from the budget.
One example was the monthly elevator inspection that is required at the Dassel History Center. By choosing a different provider, the city was able to save some money.
“All those little changes add up,” he said.
When asked what the city will do if LGA continues to be cut from the budget Scanlon said that would be up to the council as a whole, but that the city will have to live within its means.
“The most hated tax is property taxes, and we live off it out here,” he said. “That’s what funds our city.”
Goals and objectives
As far as short-term goals, Scanlon said that he wants to see the city continue to build on the successes it’s had over the last few years. “We want to continue to attract businesses to town and keep our employment rate up,” he added.
Whether it be high levels of participation in the farmers market or Red Rooster Days, “Everything has been going really well,” he said.
“With the economy and everything else, we seem to have weathered it really well,” he said. “We’re coming out of the back side of this thing in pretty good shape.”
As far as attracting new businesses and residents, Scanlon said the best thing the city can do is to keep doing what it’s been doing by keeping taxes down and the levy as low as possible.
“We try to make it financially attractive to do business in Dassel,” he said.
It has also been doing some “little things” to help existing businesses grow.
Scanlon noted the permanent city billboard that is up at the Highway 15/12 intersection, where businesses can advertise for $15 a month. The city is also going to install a billboard at 240th Street and Highway 15 this spring.
He noted that businesses had commented on the business gained from the temporary billboards that had been damaged last summer by a storm.
“It’s good for business,” Scanlon said.