HOWARD LAKE, MN Moving forward in 2016, the Howard Lake City Council plans to make modifications to its priorities and projects, which will be more citizen friendly and possibly increase civic involvement, according to City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller.
At its organizational meeting last Tuesday, the council made several small changes, including scheduled meetings.
“The changes will help the council to be a more efficient governing body, and to be more appealing for citizens to get involved in civic matters,” Haggenmiller noted.
The council also made the decision to consolidate several boards and committees, hoping to make it easier to be involved, and to use council and committee members’ time more efficiently.
“Similar to many communities, we are having trouble filling vacancies. In order to make sure these boards, commissions, and committees are still able to have a quorum to conduct their business, we’ve consolidated several,” Haggemiller stated. “Our hope is to also show our residents that it does not have to be a big time commitment to be involved and make a difference in their community.”
The city staff has been informally tracking requests from residents, and a citywide survey regarding city services is likely to be commissioned, according to Haggenmiller.
“As a city, our intent will be to simply do things that are meaningful and responsive to our residents,” he said. “The most visible sign of this will be to literally ask and ensure our annual work plan and goal setting documents are what our residents want and expect from their city.”
Haggenmiller noted seeing multiple requests for more family-oriented programming and opportunities.
“With that in mind, the city will be partnering with the school in 2016 on as many fronts as possible,” he stated. “Soon, an ‘Art in City Hall’ project will be discussed by the council and school board.”
The project will showcase students art, such as murals, sculptures, and other forms of enhancement, in city buildings, and will be rotated throughout the year.
“We plan to have some fun with this idea,” Haggenmiller said.
In addition to the city and school art project, the council plans to involve the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted student council with the planning process for the future of its former middle school site.
There will be additional city meetings for the greater community to discuss what could or should be done on the site, along with reviewing proposed steps and costs involved.
“Both the city and school have monies in their respective 2016 budget to determine what should be done with possible implementation beginning in 2017,” Haggenmiller noted. “Collectively, our hope is to show it’s possible to be involved and make a difference in your community with a smaller time commitment.”
“If residents would like to get involved, have ideas for the city to be more transparent or efficient, or have ideas to make Howard Lake a better community to call home, we encourage you to get involved by joining a group, or even doing something as simple as sending an e-mail to a city staff or council member,” he added.