Mayor's Notebook: Reflecting on city accomplishments in 2013
As this new year unfolds, the Pequot Lakes City Council will be developing 2014 goals that we will work diligently to achieve.
Last year, at our January planning workshop, the council did the same and, I’m pleased to report, in 2013 a great deal was accomplished. Needless to say, some goals were fully implemented while others are still “in progress.”
As I’ve discovered over the past five years, it somehow takes lots longer in government to get things done than if we tried doing them at home.
After a lot of brainstorming last January, ideas seemed to fall into five broad categories. The second step was to prioritize all of the ideas with the first, second and third choices rising to be the 2013 Priorities.
Today, I want to let you know what has been accomplished over the past year.
The first accomplishment is one of convenience to you. I am pleased to report that the city now accepts electronic payments from customers for all city services. Customers can make utility and all other miscellaneous payments using a credit card, debit card or personal bank account. You can do this online via the city’s website (just Google “City of Pequot Lakes MN”). Payments, of course, are still accepted by mail or in person.
Priority No. 1 was to redevelop Sibley Lake Park over several years. 2013 was devoted to creating a master plan, which will include the home of a dog park.
During 2014, utility wires will be buried so existing electric poles are not out in the middle of Pequot Boulevard. If funding is available, we will install a new playground on the south portion of the park. The 2015 budget contains funding to rebuild that section of Pequot Boulevard.
Finally, 2016’s Capital Improvement Plan includes rebuilding the stairs leading down to the fishing pier. The entire goal of this endeavor is to make Sibley Park a place that is utilized and people find enjoyable.
Priority No. 2 has been the splash park/playground to be developed near the picnic shelter at Trailside Park. Again, this is something that will benefit residents and visitors alike. A committee has been formed to raise money for this project, with Cathy Malecha and Craig Nagel heading the project.
Priority No. 3 was to develop bike, snowmobile and walking trails throughout the community. Working together with the local snowmobile club, some progress has been made on trails leading through the city to the Paul Bunyan Trail. This work will continue in 2014.
Big Picture Finance
Priority No. 1 was equalization of taxing districts to bring business taxes in line with neighboring communities, and that has been implemented. This goal will put us in a much better position to attract businesses to Pequot.
Priority Nos. 2 and 3: Develop a revolving loan fund for businesses and develop incentives for vacant lot development. These have been recently given to the city’s Economic Development Committee to work on.
There were actually three No. 1 priorities. The most important one, our city’s comprehensive plan, the guide for the city’s future, was passed by the city council last February.
The other two are works in progress – A) designing three gateways to the city in preparation of the new highway (a wide ranging number of citizens have been working the past six months on these plans); and B) doing research on our sewer ponds and spray fields to determine the most cost effective and efficient way to handle effluents in the future.
Priorities ranked Nos. 2 and 3 were assigned to Planning & Zoning: Assess downtown to understand where any new amenities should be located; and if the industrial park needs to be expanded, determine the best location.
Priority No. 1, develop a street and sewer infrastructure plan along with related costs, is a very complicated project. We are carefully proceeding but, to do it right, it will take more time than anticipated.
Priority No. 2, the new public works facility behind city hall, was indeed built and is now occupied.
Priority No. 3, the development of a five-year Capital Improvement Plan for budgeting purposes was completed and is a huge accomplishment for the city.
The No. 1 (and only) priority in this category was to look at the position of city clerk and determine if, over time, the city would be better served by creating a city administrator/city clerk position. This would be an expansion of the current city clerk role, not a staff addition.
Research continues on this priority.
Finally, if you have ideas that would help the council determine goals for 2014, I urge you to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with suggestions that can be presented at our 2014 “Brainstorming Workshop.”
The council has been working hard, but there are always new ideas to accomplish.