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Paynesville Press - Oct. 27, 2010

Paynesville City Council
Elliot LaBeau

Elliot LaBeau, 33, is an accountant, earning a degree in accounting with a minor in economics from SCSU. An Air Force veteran, he has attended council meetings since announcing his candidacy. He and his wife Alicia are expecting their first child in October.

Why are you running for city council? I want to serve on the city council because I believe I would make wise and informed decisions for the people of Paynesville. Unlike others, I will take the concerns of the people and actually voice them at council meetings, giving true representation. This will assure the constituents that their voices will be heard even if they are unable to take time off to attend council meetings.

With decreases in Local Government Aid from the state expected to continue, likely causing ongoing city budget crunches, what do you see as core city services? Administration, fire, police, and infrastructure.

The city has nearly $1.3 million in general fund reserves. What do you think is a healthy fund balance for the city? I think our fund balances are very healthy from looking at our most recently audited financial statements. Paynesville is a thriving community without a heavy debt burden. It's good to live in a city that has been financially responsible in recent times.

In each of these budget categories, explain your view on making budget cuts as needed. All budgeted areas of our local government should be on the table and targeted to discover cost-saving efficiencies.

One area of particular concern is municipal liquor services. I think that liquor sales should be a private business operated for profit. To that end, I feel that the assets associated with the liquor store should be sold and the profit used to pay down debt or fund something that is more in line with government responsibility.

What sort of tax increases (if any) would you support as a council member? Burdening the public with any more taxes now has the potential to cripple our prospering community. For this reason, I am for lowering taxes as much as possible. Our city has great potential being on the intersection of two major highways. We don't want to squander our opportunities by driving families and businesses out of town due to increased taxes, fees, assessments, tariffs, or other imposed financial burdens. To continue being a vital and thriving community, we will have to spend less, limit bureaucracy, streamline necessary functions, and elimate unnecessary ones. Only necessary or financially wise capital projects should be committed at this point. Government should lead by example when financial belts need cinching. Be assured, I would reduce, suspend, even altogether eliminate council salaries before considering raising taxes in a tough economy.

In poor economic times, lower tax burdens are proven to stimulate economies and actually generate greater government revenue in the long term. For example, if a person was given the option to buy a house with $500 in property tax in Paynesville or one with $1,000 property tax in Taxville, all other factors being equal, they will purchase the one with lower taxes. This brings another family to Paynesville. They will shop at Teal's, Alco, Fleet Supply, and many other local businesses. These new residents will also maintain their homes and yards, keeping property values higher throughout town. If property values are increasing, then property tax revenues will also increase proportionately. Alternatively, the property in Taxville remains empty. Not only will the tax not be collected on this vacant home, but the houses surrounding it will lose value as well. This revenue-killing phenomenon can, in its most extreme form, end up turning a thriving community into a ghost town.

Is annexation an appropriate revenue tool for the city? If so, how is it possible in light of the Orderly Annexation Agreement with the township? Annexation to the city is appropriate for people who are interested in having city services. It shouldn't be looked at as a revenue tool. This is simply an option made available for some people residing in the township. Yes, the affect will be higher revenue, but there will also be higher expenses as well. It seems like a good tool to grow the city. The city should be able to recoup initial infrastructure losses eventually, even if it isn't until beyond the seven-year township phase-out period.

What should be the city's relationship with Paynesville Township? And what, specifically, would you do to foster such a relationship? The city's relationship with the township should be a cooperative one. To keep the relationship strong and healthy, I will engage them on issues that need resolution and always keep lines of communication open.

What does the city need to do to make Paynesville attractive from the new Highway 23? Paynesville should be able to use the new Highway 23 as a springboard to grow its population and attract tourists to our community. We should consider an easily accessible information hub that would hold promotional literature about what we offer: Lake Koronis and other interests of the area. This hub should be introduced by large, noticeable signs on the highway from both directions of traffic.

What can the city do to to bring the visions of the Minnesota Design Team to life in Paynesville? At this point in the economic cycle, I believe capital projects should be limited to those of necessity only. The visions of the Minnesota Design Team can be reevaluated once the economy has found some stable footing and the employment number gets back to at least 95 percent.

What will you do, as a councilor, to make Paynesville a better place to live? As a council member, I will commit to serving in a capacity that reflects and honors the values set forth in our Constitution, such as limited government. I will seek to eliminate unnecessary, outdated, or redundant ordinances. By directing and promoting our town as a place where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are within reach, I will strive to make Paynesville a city that people are proud of live, work, and invite people to come and see!

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