Incumbent Mayer City Council members Tice Stieve-McPadden and Bruce Osborn are the only two candidates that will be on the ballot for two open city council seats. However, Mayer resident Nikki McNeilly has also launched a write-in campaign.
All three candidates recently responded to a series of questions from the Carver County News. Here are their responses.
1. Why do you want to serve on the Mayer city council? 100 words.
Tice Stieve-McPadden: For the most part, I enjoy holding office. I have learned a lot about the political process and our policies, but feel I have more to accomplish and learn, so I decided to run again.
Bruce Osborn: I would like the opportunity to continue to service the residents of the community because I believe there is still work to be done to assure we’re getting the most for our tax dollar. One of my goals as a council member has been to promote financial stewardship. This means carefully allocating resources at the appropriate time and investing our limited city dollars where residents receive the best return. Within the past 2 years, a finance committee has been established, and last year, we were able to substantially reduce line items within the budget and spend available dollars more efficiently.
Nikki McNeilly: I have decided to run as a write-in candidate for Mayer City Council to be a voice for families in our community.
2. What is the most pressing issue facing the city right now, and how should it be addressed? 250 words.
Osborn: The most pressing issues facing the community right now are taxes and lack of development. When the recession hit and development stopped, the city was left facing a deficit due to the construction of the water and wastewater facilities that were mandated by State agencies. These facilities were deemed necessary in order to support the recent and projected growth and development of the community. Had growth continued, water and sewer connection permit fees would have offset these costs, but when development stopped, the city was left responsible to pay the remaining shortfall through utility rates and property taxes.
I believe the City needs to focus on reducing this deficit as quickly as possible and carefully selecting future projects in the community to assure that no additional major unnecessary projects are undertaken until this deficit is paid off.
McNeilly: I think the most pressing topic for the City of Mayer is the level of property taxes. I think we should always attempt to lower property taxes to levels that keep Mayer appealing to current and future residents. Taking a line-by-line approach in reviewing the city budget will help us make sure we are frugal in all expenses, and not wasting revenues. We also need to find creative ways to draw businesses to Mayer to broaden the tax revenue base.
Stieve-McPadden: Trying to keep taxes in line with continuing declines in the market values of properties. We have done our best to hold administrative costs down. We work to attract new businesses and housing so the tax base raises. As a council, we also make cuts to every budget across the board in these trying times so that our tax rate stays close to the same percent every year.
3. In order to balance a budget, would you be more willing to support tax increases or service cuts? More specifically, are there any areas of the city budget that you feel receive too much or too little funding? 250 words.
McNeilly: I would support cuts to unnecessary services as the best way to maintain a balanced budget. In these tight economic times, the city should not be spending money on unnecessary items. The city should focus on the core services that it provides. Quality core services and low taxes will keep the City of Mayer attractive to current and future homeowners and businesses. I would oppose additional tax increases.
Stieve-McPadden: I think the key word is balance. We are looking into sharing police and other services with area communities, but we also need to ensure that our residents are safe and have some amenities. We continue do the best that we can to provide our residents with amenities and services that are within our budgets. Yearly, we look at the budget and find ways to cut across the board. Administration has not seen raises in going on 4 years, and all other budgets receive as many cuts as we can make without sacrificing the safety of our residents.
Osborn: I am not in support of increasing city tax, and budget line items across the board have already been reduced to the point where the next step will be reducing or eliminating services. Current economic times have forced most families to take measures to reduce expenses and watch their spending, and I feel the City needs to do the same. We need to continue to evaluate essential services to the community and operate within a well-detailed operating budget. I don’t believe that the City is operating its 5 Year Capital Improvement Program as it is intended (planning, implementation, funding and completion) and would like to see significant improvements made in this area to assure that allocated funds are used as budgeted for major purchases and projects.
No, I believe the budget is pretty fairly allocated, and having a background in Public Works, I can honestly say that operating a Public Works Department for a community the size of Mayer with the staff and budget allocated would be extremely difficult.
I do believe on occasion, choices have been made hastily or without discussion that were not in the city’s best interest. Taking the time to explore available options, utilize resources and discuss all available options would assure that that the best and most financially feasible choices are made.
4. What should the city do to support continued business and residential growth in Mayer? 250 words.
Stieve-McPadden: We have an Economic Development Administration that pursues new business and residential growth in the city of Mayer. They do everything from providing grant and loan money for businesses, to rebates for new home builders. They also support special projects that will help promote the city of Mayer. They recently allotted some of their budget to a new message sign that will be going up on the corner of Hwy 25 and 1st Street.
Osborn: As mentioned earlier, lack of growth is one of the largest problems the City is facing right now. We continue to work to clean up the downtown area and make the city more aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, until the economy rebounds, growth of any kind is going to continue be difficult.
I encourage residents to communicate with City leaders and express concerns and suggestions for Community improvements that will make Mayer more attractive to potential new residents and businesses. We have a good start on our park and trail system, but believe there is more we can do. Continuing to work with the school district/community education, area agencies and sports organizations to create useable sports facilities and programs for our community with make us more appealing to families and promote local business.
Despite the difficult economy, seven new home building permits have been issued this year and the City is working with an existing business owner to expand and improve upon his current business. This will hopefully encourage additional growth in the down town area. We also continue to work on developing a business front at the intersection of highways 25 & 7.
McNeilly: The city should always be trying to make sure our taxes, fees, and opportunities match today’s needs and concerns. Our economic landscape is always changing and we need to make sure we are changing as well. I would work to provide high quality parks and trails for families, maintain or lower property taxes for both homeowners and businesses, and providing tools to our community will result in positive growth for the city.
5. Why should the residents of Mayer give you their vote? 100 words
Osborn: I would like to have the opportunity to serve the residents of Mayer for another term and continue to work with their best interest in mind. I believe the knowledge and experience I have in City government is an asset. I have seen first hand the needs to accommodate growing change. Being a parent of an elementary aged child I see the need for involvement and collaboration between the city and the school district/community education and the value of facilitating some of their needs within our community. Another 4-year term would allow me to continue working for you toward building a better, well-rounded community to call home.
McNeilly: Please WRITE-IN Nikki McNeilly for Mayer city council because I will work hard to make Mayer a great community to live in, raise a family, and retire in. I have no hidden agendas. I chose to live here, and am passionate about making Mayer an even better town to live in than it already is.
Stieve-McPadden: I’m dedicated to the city of Mayer and it’s residents. I have their best interest at heart and have many of the same concerns that they do. I’d like to continue to be a part of the town’s growth.
6. Please tell us about your background. 100 words.
McNeilly: I have lived in Mayer for over 8 years. My husband Nate and I have two children Kaitlyn (5) and Gavin (19 months). I graduated with a BA degree in Business Management from MSU-Moorhead. I currently work for a small Rep firm in Bloomington. Our focus is to represent manufacturer’s goods and sell them into Target, Best Buy, Menards, and other retailers in the area. My husband owns a small landscaping business and I manage the bookkeeping.
Stieve-McPadden: I’ve lived in Mayer my entire life, I graduated from Watertown-Mayer High School and went on to Willmar Vo-Tech for Cosmotology. I married Bob McPadden in 1991. We have two daughters; D’Laney, 19, who is currently attending Winona State University, and Regan, 17, attending Watertown-Mayer High School as a junior this year. My sister Shelly Kahl and I own Uncle Ron’s Smokehouse in Mayer.
Osborn: My wife Kristi and I moved our family to Mayer in 2003 because the community fulfilled what we were looking for — affordable housing, a strong school district and small town values.
I have 17 years of experience as a Public Works Superintendent with experience in city planning and budgeting, streets, parks, water, wastewater and storm sewer. I possess a Minnesota Department of Health Water License and MPCA Wastewater license. I am currently a Public Employee working in Road Maintenance. Prior to being elected to the council in 2008 I served 2 years on the Mayer Economic Development Committee.