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Paynesville Press - Oct. 27, 2010

Paynesville City Council
Gene Beavers

Gene Beavers, 40, has served on the city council for four years. He works as a physician's assistant in family medicine, earning his undergraduate degree at Northwestern College and his physician's assistant certification at Augsburg College. He and his wife Bev have three daughters.

Why are you running for city council? I am first and foremost a concerned resident of this community. I am concerned about how decisions made by local governing bodies affect my neighbors, friends, and family. As a member of this council, I am able to be involved in the discussions and outcomes.

What new ideas do you think you can bring to the city council? I am interested in finding ways to use our government designation to leverage resources for our community. Grants seem to be getting harder to come by, but partnering with other governmental units, businesses, or individuals can be a good tool to make our limited resources go further. I am interested in exploring formats to provide our city services at lower costs, either through efficiencies or novel staffing ideas.

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? Core city services include: basic infrastructure (water, sewer, and streets); protection (fire and police); and advocacy for our residents when other agencies impact our community (MPCA and MnDOT).

The city has nearly $1.3 million in general fund reserves. What do you think is a healthy fund balance for the city? I believe a healthy reserve would be at least 50 percent of our annual operating expenses. This does not include specific designated accounts such as those for water or sewer.

In each of these budget categories, explain your view on making budget cuts as needed.
•Amenities: (lifeguards, Fourth of July fireworks, Summer Recreation, contributions to community organizations such as the Paynesville Area Center and the historical society, etc.) I view these as extras. They could be cut and impact the city budget by a small amount. These are items that provide a little convenience to our lives. If we can develop partnerships with other groups and leverage our dollars for a greater impact or provide some tangible benefit to our city, I think they should be considered.

•City Infrastructure: (streets, water, sewer, etc.) City infrastructure should not be cut to any significant degree. The city has done a good job of developing a long-term improvement plan that accomplishes all of the needed improvements but does not generate significant tax increases. Cutting this budget area would only push needed improvements into the future and may lead to those improvements being more costly.

•City Staff: City staff is more than a line item in the budget; this represents some of our own community members. I do believe we have to evaluate the work that is done by the city staff and strive to achieve the greatest value for our tax dollar.

What sort of tax increases (if any) would you support as a council member? I would support modest increases but would like to limit those to around three percent annually.

Is annexation an appropriate revenue tool for the city? If so, how is it possible in light of the Orderly Annexation Agree-ment with the township? Annexation is clearly a process that cities have been granted and can have a role in the generation of revenue for the city. The orderly annexation agreement may have been appropriate historically but has placed restrictions on the city that I believe provide no benefit to the residents of the city. I am in favor of removing the agreement, if it is not modified.

What should be the city's relationship with Paynesville Township? And what, specifically, would you do to foster such a relationship? We have a good working relationship with the township, and I would like to see that continued as many of the issues we face are similar. We have been able to partner together to provide our residents added value in many areas. The relationship with the township, or any other group, should exist because we have common goals or mutual problems, not because we have made having a good relationship a strategic goal of its own.

What does the city need to do to make Paynesville attractive from the new Highway 23? A city derives its attraction from many factors, but I believe they include a vibrant business community, activities within the community, and the word of mouth that comes from the current city residents. From a structural point of view, the city needs to ensure access points are clear, signs are appropriate, and that infrastructure is accessible to allow business growth and development.

What can the city do to to bring the visions of the Minnesota Design Team to life in Paynesville? The Design Team visit was a huge community-based event; the city played a role in the process and was the contact point for the group. The concept I would like to see emphasized is what will community members do to bring those visions to life. It will be a grassroots, neighborhood-based rally that will bring the creation and funding for many of these visions. I would love to see a recreation center and/or distinctive architectural structures, but I can not envision the city funding these projects.

What will you do, as a councilor, to make Paynesville a better place to live? The one area I would like to see developed is better technology, faster Internet connections, and inclusion of technology features in development plans. I believe continuing to advocate for our city, protecting the interests of the community as a whole, and limiting the negative impact of regulation, fees, and taxes will make Paynesville even better.

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