Monticello residents will select three council positions when they head to the polls next month.
The position of mayor and two city council member posts will be decided in the general election. Mayor Clint Herbst is being challenged by Brad Fyle.
Councilmembers Tom Perrault and Glen Posusta are running unopposed this election season.
The Monticello Times asked the two mayoral candidates to submit their biographies and answer these three questions:
1) FiberNet Monticello is at a crossroads. What is the next critical obstacle the city must overcome to ensure the broadband network becomes successful?
2) Explain your position on using tax-increment financing (TIF) dollars to revitalize the downtown area.
3) If you could bring one large economic development project to completion during the next two years, what would it be?
Fyle: I have been married to my wife, Cindy, for 34 years. We live at 501 W. Third Street. We have one daughter, Sheri (30) and one son, Dan (27) and a daughter-in-law, Laura. We are going to be first-time grandparents in February and are so excited! Cindy and I both graduated from Monticello High School back in the 1970s, and have lived here all our lives.
I’ve worked all my life for the family business, Fyle’s Excavating & Honeywagon, which was started by my dad in 1967. I am currently a member of the Monticello Planning Commission. I have been involved with the Police Commission since its origination 15 years ago. I am also an active member of the Monticello Fire Department, and will soon be starting my 29th year. If you would like to contact me, please do so by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Herbst: I’ve been married to my wife, Diane, for 27 years and we have two children, Cara and Rick. I graduated from Monticello High School in 1982 and attended the University of Minnesota, Morris for two years. Since 1996 my wife and I have owned and operated small businesses. I have lived in Monticello since 1972 and am celebrating 40 years in this great city. I was first elected to the city council in November of 1990. I served as a council member for 12 years (3 terms). I was elected Mayor in November of 2004 and have served as Mayor for the past 8 years (4 terms). I have been a Monticello Lion since 2004 and was the president of the Lions for the 2011-12 year. The organization of Wright County Mayors appointed me to the State Transportation Board. I serve on numerous boards and committees in the city.
Fyle: I believe the only way that FiberNet can become successful is to have more subscribers. The competition that they have is getting more aggressive so consumers have more to choose from now and that brings the cost of services down. A new 1-year contract was just signed with a new management firm to run FiberNet. They may be able to give consumers some cost savings, but will have to work to make it profitable. During 2011, the revenues-over-expenses were at a negative $2,689,126. That is a large amount of money to overcome. The numbers on the report through June 30, 2012 don’t look much better. When FiberNet was sold to the voting citizens, it was stated that no city funds would be used to support it. That has not been the case. Dollars were used that could have been spent on other needed city projects and now that money will have to be levied for. It will be a difficult obstacle for the city to overcome. I propose to wait and see the effects of the new management. If things aren’t improving after their first 3 months, I will ask to end the draining of other city funds into the FiberNet account. If it defaults, it will have long-lasting effects on the city’s ability to bond money for needed projects in the future. My vote is only one of five needed to take any action, but I will do my best, working with others, to do what I feel is best overall for the city.
Herbst: I believe it has already been successful. Monticello residents were once paying the highest rates with some of the slowest speeds in the country. Today, we enjoy the fastest speeds and the lowest rates in the nation. It doesn’t matter if you are a customer of Charter, TDS or FiberNet, an average resident saves $60 per month on telecommunications and TV/cable services, which equates to a savings of $720 per year. If you take that amount by the 4000 possible sites – we have been able to put $2,880,000 back into the pockets of our residents. Those dollars stay right here in Monticello.
We continue to work on ways to make FiberNet stronger by investigating options for added revenue. In the coming months we will be working side-by- side with the investors that own the system to work out a model that will keep FiberNet in place and ensure that rates stay competitive here at home. With a strong interest from surrounding cities and the State of Minnesota, we are confident that we will be able to keep FiberNet in operation for years to come.
(TIF Use By City)
Fyle: I support the use of tax increment financing (TIF). This tool that the state has granted cities to use, would be a good choice for updating Monticello’s downtown. An agreement is drawn up by potential developers, with a plan for the city to approve. TIF then allows the city to exempt developers from paying taxes for up to 10 years, which gives them incentive to develop in Monticello. The city will then get those dollars back in taxes from those businesses.
Herbst: Redevelopment is a very difficult task. Tax-increment financing (TIF) is one of the tools that cities use to get the job done. Our downtown consists of many different types of buildings. Some are in tough shape and the repairs would exceed the value of the building In other cases the buildings downtown are very long and narrow which doesn’t suit the needs of many of today’s retailers. I will give you a simple example of what TIF is. If you have a building today that produces $1,000 per year in tax dollars to the city and you replace it with a building that produces $5,000 per year in tax dollars, the $4,000 in additional tax dollars can be used as Tax Increment Dollars. Depending on the length of the TIF district, that $4,000 per year can be used to aid the development in many ways, such as helping to buy down the cost of the property. Without those dollars the redevelopment wouldn’t occur because the costs would be just too high and unjustifiable. I have supported and will continue to support the use of these dollars in the future. It is an important tool that is necessary if we really want to see redevelopment in the downtown.
Fyle: Currently, I do not see any one large devlopment project for Monticello. I am willing to work with any industrial, commercial/retail and/or housing developers that may approach the city. I do however see some smaller projects that may be coming forward. Plans are in the works right now for wastewater treatment plant improvements and updates. I see this as an important thing in order for our city to grow. Public works also has needs for additional space, as does the current fire station, which is becoming insufficient for their needs. I also support the needs for basic services for city residents. These are not large economic development projects but are all things that need to be looked at.
Herbst: The Bertram Chain of Lakes project would be just that project. As we continue working to bring it to fruition, we are already seeing the benefits of this pristine piece of property. We have been working with the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, which wants to locate their complex abutting the northern edge of the Chain of Lakes property. The MYSA complex will be constructed in two phases and they will be investing over $20,000,000 into it. Soccer complexes like this are few and far between. The MYSA will be able to host state and national tournaments, something they can’t do on the fields at the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, or anywhere else in Minnesota. This brings outside dollars into the community, which would be a well needed shot in the arm for many of our businesses. Projects like this improve the quality of life in a community. The types of businesses and industries that provide livable wage jobs look for communities like ours knowing that their employees require a wide range of amenities. Monticello has a lot to offer. I will continue to seek opportunities for Monticello and work hard to bring the types of jobs that will allow you to live, work and raise a family right here at home. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and my positions. Please get out and vote Nov. 6.