Herald Journal - Voters' Guide 2010
Herald Journal / Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch / Delano Herald Journal

Howard Lake Mayor

Richard Lammers*

Why are you running for mayor of Howard Lake?

I have always loved my country and my community. I graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly High School in 1974. I served in the United States Army, and have over 30 years experience as a law enforcement officer. I also have served on the school board for 13 years. I have done all of this to be an effective public servant for our citizens.

I have enjoyed serving the citizens of Howard Lake for the past six years as their mayor. I have a great deal of pride in our community, and I look forward to continuing to serve as our community grows and moves forward.

Howard Lake has an outstanding parochial and public school system. We also have a number of great civic groups, senior citizens, and residents who all share a passion for the community. I enjoy working with all of these groups and citizens in order to improve the city.

What do you believe are the top two issues facing the city, and what are your proposed solutions?

I believe one of the two threats facing our city are the ever-shrinking local government aid or monies we receive from the State of Minnesota to assist in the operation of the city. This is always a concern. As a result, as elected officials, we strive to maintain high levels of service in light of reductions, while keeping overall tax levels low. This has always been a difficult process. I believe, as mayor, I have helped our staff and council meet this challenge.

The other issue is attracting new retail and industrial business to Howard Lake, such as a bakery or new manufacturing facilities. I feel that on this issue, the city needs to develop a long-range plan by working with our staff, business leaders, and citizens.

What specifically can this unit of government do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

I believe we must spend taxpayer’s money wisely, and proceed only with projects that are needed to maintain and improve our infrastructure. I feel the City of Howard Lake has done this well for a number of years, and will always continue on this course.

To continue to do more with less has been a hard goal, but its not impossible. The creation of community partnership committees is a great step forward in the growth and vision we have for our city.

Pete Zimmerman

Why are you running for mayor of Howard Lake?

I am running for the office of mayor of Howard Lake because I love this community, and feel that Howard Lake would benefit from my leadership.

I have served on the city council for the past six years, and in that time, I have gained a great understanding of the needs of the residents and the future vision that they have for Howard Lake.

What do you believe are the top two issues facing the city, and what are your proposed solutions?

Maintaining a healthy tax base is an important issue for Howard Lake. As home values decline, so does the tax base of Howard Lake, yet the cost of providing municipal services does not decrease, putting a higher burden on taxpayers.

One way to offset this is to attract more commercial, industrial, and retail businesses to our community. We should be more aggressive in enticing new businesses to the industrial park, and make selling those empty lots a priority.

New businesses in the industrial park benefits Howard Lake two-fold. First, the value of each parcel will increase as new buildings are constructed, thus increasing the tax base. Second, each parcel sold means one less parcel that is owned by the city, which decreases the amount of the annual levy required to cover the cost of those industrial park lots.

Dependence on local government aid is an ongoing issue that Howard Lake faces each year. In recent years, the state legislature has made decreases in the amount of fiscal aid that it contributes to small cities like Howard Lake.

Howard Lake needs to take steps toward becoming less dependent on this government aid in preparation for the event that the state discontinues the aid completely. Keeping a tight budget, while making incremental expenditure decreases is one way we can absorb the cuts in funding.

What specifically can this unit of government do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

Howard Lake already operates under a fairly tight budget, and has for a number of years.

Unlike larger units of government, Howard Lake does not have much room for budgetary fluff or inefficient operation.

I feel that the focus should start with the level and type of service desired by the taxpayers, and then structure the budget around those service needs.

The past nine years of my career have been spent in government finance. The knowledge and experience that I have gained on the job gives me insight on how to add efficiency to government operations, while maintaining the level of service desired by the taxpayers.

From a revenue perspective, increasing non-tax revenues can be a great tool for curbing increases in the tax levy.

In the past, the municipal liquor store has produced profits that were funneled into the general fund to support existing services and new projects that benefit all of our residents. As a member of the liquor store committee, I have been working with staff and the committee to restore the liquor store to a profitable position. We are nearing a point where the liquor store revenues will once again support the betterment of Howard Lake, and as your mayor, I will continue to work toward that goal.

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