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Paynesville Press - Oct. 31, 2012

Paynesville City Council
Elliot LaBeau

Elliott LaBeau

Elliot LaBeau, 35, ran for the city council two years ago and now serves on the city's budget and finance committee. He moved to Paynesville in June 2010 and opened LaBeau Tax and Accounting Service. He served four years in the Air Force and earned his accounting degree from St. Cloud State University. He and his wife Alicia have two children.

Why are you interested in serving on city council?
My interest resides in giving the people an option that is clearly different than the other candidates. I want the Paynesville residents to get more for the money they are paying in taxes. Better yet, residents deserve to pay LESS in taxes and still have a competent local government that fulfills all of its roles. I will be the candidate looking for ways to achieve these ends. I am interested in the limited government powers as envisioned by our forefathers. As councilman, I will be asking the question: "Does this get government out of people's business?" And "Is this good for Paynesville families?" If the answer to these questions is "yes," than I will be on board.

I will also commit to the people of Paynesville to never vote for a tax increase. If I fail to keep my word, I will forgo my council salary as a penalty. There is no reason to raise taxes. People are taxed enough already with sales, federal income, state income, fuel, county, schools, fees, and fines to name a few off the top of my head. Our city does not need to contribute to the ever increasing tax burden Americans are facing today.

What new ideas do you feel you can bring to the council?
The best new idea I can bring is a complete overview of city regulations. The intention of this project would be to strike down or simplify ordinances that were deemed overbearing, unnecessary, ambiguous, redundant, or ones that require an attorney to decipher them. Many objectives would be met through an initiative such as this. To name a few, administrative costs could be lowered since there would be fewer people requiring direction, explanation, or help with procedures. These costs would be reduced more due to less paperwork. People would be more empowered to be self-disciplined rather than government controlled. Also, families and businesses would be drawn to Paynesville because of the relatively free environment it offered.

Another good idea I would suggest is reversing the way that the budget is put together. Currently we develop all the expenses that are desired and say we need X dollars to pay for it all. I would like to see us saying we expect to generate X dollars in revenue; let's fit all our expenses into that. The former way almost always will result in a tax increase, whereas, the latter way (the same way all households and businesses operate) will not.

What should the city do about the benzene pollution from the former gas station at the corner of Lake Avenue and Mill Street?
The city should thoroughly monitor the water supply for benzene as well as other harmful pollutants. We should also commit to a reserve contingency fund for shutting down wells and constructing new ones should the benzene begin to seep into the water supply at the sites of current wells. Hopefully in the future the MPCA will help with the clean-up of this spill, but to count on their help would be irresponsible.

Should additional budget cuts become necessary, what areas of spending would you target?
There are no sacred cows if budget cuts are necessary. All areas are on the table and would be scrutinized for efficient and valuable use of taxpayer money.

As funds allow, where do you think the city could be spending more?
Funds are not currently allowing for more money to be spent anywhere. As it stands, city residents can look forward to another tax increase this year. If ever there were funds available that the city was just trying to find something to do with, I would be in favor of using that money in the following year to pass on a tax decrease to the businesses and residents.

What types of tax increases (if any) would you support as a council member?
As stated before, I am opposed to any and all tax increases. We are taxed enough already!

What should the community do to make Paynesville attractive from the new Highway 23 bypass?
The community's job is to elect the best possible people into positions of responsibility. This will make Paynesville attractive from the Highway 23 bypass and beyond. Please, constituents, do your homework on all of the candidates for all of the positions and vote for a better future for Paynesville.

How can Paynesville businesses entice highway traffic to continue to stop in Paynesville?
I suppose the best way for Paynesville businesses to continue drawing highway traffic into town is to continue to offer high quality products and customer service. This is how business thrives anywhere. People are willing to go out of their way a little for a good experience. The new bypass is an opportunity for city businesses, not an impediment.

What is the city's role in promoting Paynesville to Highway 23 traffic?
The city has an obligation to purchase two "Welcome to Paynesville" signs on either end of the Highway 23 bypass. These signs should have a type of multimedia capability that can display City events and other community happenings. I also think that the City should have some policy that would allow it to rent time on the display to local businesses should they desire to use it for advertising as well.

How important is having a full-time police chief to the city? The status of having a police chief is outweighed by the cost. The title "chief" doesn't make our city any safer. If we must have someone in a supervisory role at the station, we could make a promotion to sergeant.

What is your long-term view for police coverage in Paynesville?
Our security and protection for most purposes are not dependent upon law enforcement officers. To believe so would be deluding oneself. Security comes from, at most, our Lord and, at least, our Second Amendment rights granted us in the Bill of Rights. There is also the common interest of a person wanting to keep his fellow person safe. It is astounding the brave and selfless acts common people do for others.

The City of Paynesville has people like that. The citizens here are generally law-abiding and well-intentioned. There is a strong moral fiber in our community that is evident through the values we share. Based on these premises, the following is long-term vision for police coverage in Paynesville.

The Paynesville police coverage should be more affordable for the taxpayer. Police coverage last year cost the city around $400,000. This is approximately 25 percent of the city's operating budget. For the same amount of money, the city could purchase every law-abiding household a handgun, defibrillator, and all the training needed for both of these invaluable tools. This is not a proposal, only an observation. I envision security of our city being handled in a way that elicits more of the help of volunteers and community watch groups. The people of California may be able to offer some guidance on the functions of policing that volunteers are able to perform. There is an organization called the Law Enforcement Volunteers of California (LEVOC). The nice thing about volunteers is that they can feel good about securing peace in the neighborhood while at the same time costing the city very little. I think retired military veterans, which Paynesville has, would do a splendid job; however, anyone with a concern for the well being of the city would be welcome to participate.

What type of relationship should the city council have with its employees?
Purely professional.

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