Pequot Lakes: Council member says city must help businesses

Government Drive in Pequot Lakes is empty Monday evening, March 23, but residents can still support area businesses. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

One Pequot Lakes City Council member believes the city’s 2021 budget should be looked at as a recovery budget for residents and businesses after the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the council’s Tuesday, April 7, meeting (held online via Zoom), City Administrator Nancy Malecha asked the council for direction as the 2021 budget process begins. The council agreed to address the question in May.

But council member Scott Pederson asked: “What can our city do to help our businesses?”

He said the city has more than 70 businesses, and “almost all have shut their doors. Pretty much all have lost revenues and some, I’m afraid, aren’t going to make it. They’re just not going to survive.”

He said this pandemic has been devastating to both residents and businesses. He recommended the council talk about how to financially help its businesses, possibly reaching out to professionals to gather ideas.


“We can’t just write a check - a city can’t do that - but we can do other things,” he said.

Pederson suggested the council do a three-month freeze on non-imperative spending and purchasing.

“We don’t know what the future is. Not every budget item is essential,” he said. “It’s a horrible situation so I think we need to take some proactive leadership here and revisit this monthly.”

He also recommended the council look at the 2021 budget as a recovery budget, saying it won’t be like past budgets. He mentioned cutting nearly every expenditure and putting new equipment purchases on hold now.

“Lower property taxes will help people. One way to do that is to lower city expenses,” he said.

“This is life and death for some folks,” Pederson said, noting he wants to look at it as “save our town and businesses” and talk to business owners.

“It’s a totally different animal that we have to look at, and it’s going to take a couple of years to recover from it,” he said.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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