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Paynesville Press - Oct. 27, 2010

Paynesville City Council
Pat Hesse

Pat Hesse, 66, is the head cook at Eden Valley-Watkins High School and used to own and operate Northern Lights, a supper club in Paynesville, with her husband Larry, who also works part-time as a trucker. They have three adult daughters, seven grandchildren, and have a third great-grandchild on the way.

Why are you running for city council? I've reached a point in my life that I do have some extra time, and I feel that I would like to be more involved. I would like to give back to my community. It's obvious that the city needs real life experiences and opinions from the general public in these challenging times. We may need to do things in a new and different way because of the tough times.

What new ideas do you think you can bring to the city council? After living in this town and owning a business here, I feel I know a lot of people. This is what I can bring to the council: a fresh perspective from these people who may feel they haven't been heard from in these challenging times. A fresh perspective could be a great beginning of dealing with the new issues and could help make things happen.

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? Police protection, fire protection, bad weather warnings, snow removal, and sewer and water.

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 that the $1.3 million in reserves sounds healthy. It tells me that we have been in the hands of capable staff and councils who had the foresight to save for future use. I would not dip into this unless it was absolutely necessary. We need to continue to plan and budget, as they have in the past, but we need new plans for the reality of the future.

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 wonder if this isn't an area that should be targeted some. Maybe not eliminated but cut back some.

•City Infrastructure: (streets, water, sewer, etc.) I think moving some of these projects to a later date was a good move. I feel we are far enough into our repairs that a break in the action will be OK.

•City Staff: There are tough times, and this is an area where nobody wants to go. But being a former business owner, I know that this is the biggest part of the budget. I have a feeling that this area will be targeted in some way or another. This is not easy to do.

•Parks, Trails, Recreation: I think this should be put on hold until things turn around. The trail will be finished in 2012.

•Public Safety: police, fire, etc. I feel this is an area that should be shielded from cuts.

•Other: I can't think of a particular area, but I think with all spending we need to think twice about putting too much on the backs of our homeowners, who are already struggling with declining values, low interest on savings, and high medical costs.

What sort of tax increases (if any) would you support as a council member? I'm not in favor of a tax increase but the reality is, it's going to happen. I hope it can be as small as possible, after some cuts, of course. It's coming out at a bad time. The city needs money, the schools need money, and I'm sure the county will be raising their taxes. We are having a trickle down from federal problems, affecting our state, and now our cities and our schools are in trouble.

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 a great tool, but we also have an agreement with the township to honor. Annexation only for increased taxes is a bad idea. It needs to be in the best interests of all parties, the city, township, and homeowners and businesses.

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 should be one of working together, listening to each other, and combining projects as we have in the past. I would be respectful of their point of view and hope that they would understand ours. We need to continue to work together as we've done so well on a lot of different issues and projects.

What does the city need to do to make Paynesville attractive from the new Highway 23? I think they will have to do some attractive signs to let people know what we are about. Also, I'm sure there will be landscaping and "Welcome to Paynesville" signs on a larger scale than what we have now to all our entrances.

What can the city do to to bring the visions of the Minnesota Design Team to life in Paynesville? I am sure that once the road is finished, Lake Avenue will have to be enhanced. This will give us time to make a plan and figure out how to pay for it. I would say a youth center would be put on the priority list. This would probably have to be a team effort from several groups. I don't think starting new projects is as important as finishing the ones we have committed to.

What will you do, as a councilor, to make Paynesville a better place to live? I would try to find ways to cut expenses so that those on a fixed income can stay in their homes. We need to look for ways to bring in more revenue to keep us on the right path. Paynesville is a great place to live. We have a lot of things that other small towns don't have. We have a great senior center, fitness center, a great hotel that brings people to town, the airport, and many great places to eat or dine out.

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