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Paynesville Press - Oct. 31, 2012

Paynesville City Council
Donavan Mayer

Donavan Mayer

Donovan Mayer, 67, who has lived in Paynesville since 2009, previously served eight years on the city council in Farmington, as well as on their EDA, HRA, and planning commission. He currently serves on the planning commission in Paynesville. A retired mechanic for Northwest Airlines, he and his wife Nan have four adult children and five grandchildren.

Why are you interested in serving on city council?
First and foremost, we all receive benefits from living in a community such as Paynesville. For me, this is an opportunity to return some of that benefit to the community. Second, I believe my values, integrity, and goals match well with those of the citizens of Paynesville. I'll be working to further the prosperity of our community to ensure ³our town² can provide the best possible services, business and residential development, parks, trails, and industrial opportunities now and in the future to make certain Paynesville remains to each of us Što our youth, and to those that view us from the outside the communityŠa great place to live!

What new ideas do you feel you can bring to the council?
My primary goal will be a renewed commitment to the ideals that have made Paynesville a great place to live. I recognize the efforts of past councils and civic leaders. We should undertake a review of the structure of our local government to ensure that it is representative of all the constituents that make up the community. We should be proactive in assuring that our local government is functioning up to par. Does the makeup of boards and commissions reflect the best designation of responsibility to enable the council to be responsive to the needs of the community? Do the zoning ordinances reflect the expectations of residents, as well as those of businesses and industries that are here or may want to locate here? Prudent planning and evaluation will assure the integrity of the community and assist in continuing the legacy that is Paynesville.

What should the city do about the benzene pollution from the former gas station at the corner of Lake Avenue and Mill Street?
The obvious answer is ³Clean it up!² The reality is that numerous Paynesville councils and city staffs have worked admirably toward achieving that goal. I've done a great deal of research on this issue, and I feel that it presents a real threat to our water supply. The real problem, as I see it, is that those outside of the community charged with the responsibility of public health and safety are more concerned with the cost of total remediation than they are with their mission. While the MPCA has been conducting monitoring on the site and around the community and are currently pumping city well #4 as a way to control the plume, I see no effort on their part toward remediation. This is a band-aid approach when surgery is called for. Eventually, well #4 will fail, and containment efforts will fail.

The fact that Terracon (the environmental contractor conducting monitoring) continues to bail free product from the site suggests to me that we may not have the complete picture. The current council is working hard in an effort to get a better handle on the issue. I welcome their efforts. If elected, I will be pressing for a complete review by council of past work done on the issue to make sure we're on the correct course. When we have ascertained that, this issue will be a top priority. It should be on every agenda until we have achieved total remediation.

Should additional budget cuts become necessary, what areas of spending would you target?
Our primary goal of budgeting should be to set a budget that provides funding for the needs and expectations of the community, keeping in mind that the constituents will pay for the revenue side in one form or another. If we follow the process, we should be able to maintain a budget absent of unjustified spending and still meet the needs of the city. Still, with that in mind, unexpected costs or cuts in the revenue may occur (such as cuts in Local Government Aid) that dictate budget adjustments. In that case, each department would be expected to do a budget review to identify costs that could be eliminated or projects that could be deferred.

As funds allow, where do you think the city could be spending more?
Our goal should be to provide the best services and infrastructure to the citizens as possible. The current council has ordered necessary improvements to the sewer treatment system and is looking at prioritizing capital improvement projects regarding streets. The Comprehen-sive Water Report identifies necessary improvements that must be included in a replacement time table. We should be looking at where we can extend services in a manner that assures growth in the community is balanced. We should be looking at our inventory of equipment and vehicles to replace equipment that has reached its useful life, so we can provide our city staff with the tools necessary to reach the expectations we have of them. And we should be looking at items such as parks and trails within our borders that will add to the inventory of amenities that Paynesville can provide.

What types of tax increases (if any) would you support as a council member?
Only those that are warranted to protect the functioning of services providing by the city. The authority to levy is essential to provide those services, but it must be used in a judicious manner in order to protect the rights of those that will pay for the levy. My goal will be to strive for a budget that meets the needs of the community without jeopardizing the quality of life they provide and without placing an undue burden on the citizens. Factors within our immediate future may dictate otherwise, but I'll be working toward a net-zero budget.

What should the community do to make Paynesville attractive from the new Highway 23 bypass?
The Highway 23 bypass will in itself attract opportunities for growth in the community. That is already occuring. We need to work toward balanced growth in the community. In addition, we have to provide necessary services to allow for that growth. And we need to recognize and identify amenities within our borders that distinguish Paynesville as a great community within rural Minnesota, and we need to build on those amenities. Some of those things will be within our extended community. It will be equally important to recognize and maintain a good working relationship with local governing entities that make up that extended community in order to achieve common goals that will promote our corner of the world.

How can Paynesville businesses entice highway traffic to continue to stop in Paynesville?
I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the downtown Paynesville Event Planning (PEP) group and was surprised and excited to observe the level of involvement that was evident by the attendance at the meeting. I was equally impressed by the number and quality of ideas being presented. It will be this type of joint effort that will lead to a successful outcome for our community. I believe one of the things that makes Paynesville unique is our downtown. We need that cooperative effort to build and enhance this amenity. Many vehicles now are equipped with modern technology, including GPS units. Our goal should be to ensure that the people in those vehicles program it for Paynesville, so there is a constant chirp from the highway that says, "YOU HAVE ARRIVED!"

What is the city's role in promoting Paynesville to Highway 23 traffic?
Certainly a partnership role, working with all the various jurisdictions, whether public or private, that comprise our greater community.

How important is having a full-time police chief to the city? The taxpayers of Paynesville have spoken, and the verdict is that the police department is needed and the county cannot provide the protection that is desired. So, it is of the utmost importance to have a full-time police chief. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will strongly support the new chief and his department. I was a part-time police officer during the 1970s and my cousin's son is a Minnesota Highway Patrol officer, so I do indeed support and respect the police department.

What is your long-term view for police coverage in Paynesville?
I identify our police department as an essential service. We can and should maintain a strong and vibrant police force to facilitate the peace and harmony within the community. Moving any of our police department coverage to another level of law enforcement runs the risk of disabling our force and reducing our protection. The sheriff's department did an admirable job for us in assisting during recent changes in the department. It also had the effect of stretching that department thin, thereby increasing the potential of longer response times in both locations. As a community, we may function with a diminished capacity in any of our departments, but will function poorly. Fire protection, public works, administration, or any other function of the city will operate at its best with the full cooperation and support of the city and its residents. I am committed to that support.

What type of relationship should the city council have with its employees?
The relationship should be one of cooperation. It is my experience that adversarial relationships tend to foster issues. With that in mind, it should be a professional relationship that recognizes concerns and expectations from both sides. It must also recognize the chain of command within the department and work within those parameters.

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