Monticello Mayor Brian Stumpf recaps first term in office

Two years ago, Brian Stumpf had to be elected mayor to retain a seat on the Monticello City Council.

He accomplished that task handily, defeating Glen Posusta, incumbent city council member, and challenger Joshua Dickinson by better than a 2-1 margin.

This fall, Stumpf didn’t face a challenger in his first re-election bid. He received more than 4,500 votes and is looking forward to a second term.

Recently, Stumpf sat down before the start of a Monticello council meeting and provided a state of the city report and a look back at his first term.

“It was the first time in 20 years [of serving in city government that I didn’t face a challenger,” he said, referring to this year’s city council campaign. “Election Night, I went up to the Monticello VFW and played bingo with a couple of family members, hung there for a little bit and I was actually in bed by 11 p.m. because I had an early morning on Wednesday for work.” Stumpf owns Monticello Towing.

Stumpf said with two new councilmembers (Jim Davidson and William Fair) waiting to be sworn in, his biggest priority in the next month-and-a-half is reviewing committee appointments.

“Jim made a run for it two years ago, and he decided to get involved with the EDA. Bill Fair served a council term and as mayor a term. Twenty years ago, I served under Bill as a council member. Fortunately, we eliminated a few committees and boards,” he said, specifically referring to the FiberNet Advisory Board and Police Advisory Boards, which stopped meeting earlier this year.

Looking back, Stumpf said pairing back the amount of city-held land was a key accomplishment during his first term.

“We reduced a lot of our land; we still have a fair amount,” he said. “We are still working on getting the biosolids farm sold and getting it gone. It won’t be on our tax rolls because it’s in the township, but we don’t need to use it anymore,” Stumpf said, referring to modifications that have been made in the treatment of biosolids.

“We probably won’t land-apply sludge anymore. A few city lots have sold as well,” he added.

The change in management status for FiberNet, the city’s high-speed broadband network, was another key task completed in the last two years, Stumpf said.

In June, Monticello council members approved a five-year FiberNet third-party management services agreement with Perham-based Arvig Enterprises.

One part-time and seven full-time FiberNet staff members employed by the city became Arvig employees.

The management proposal and subsequent agreement between the city and Arvig Enterprises is comprised of a base management fee of 3 percent that increases annually, a fixed fee and an incentive fee.

The management agreement specifies the city will retain ownership of FiberNet and is responsible for funding any shortfalls between revenues and expenses.

However, the managment agreement the city signed with Arvig does specify any revenues that are brought in belong to the city. The agreement also specifies that Arvig will have operational and management control over the decisions made for FiberNet.

“We recently received a three-month [financial] report from Arvig regarding FiberNet, and I suspect the numbers will be significantly better when they give their end of year report,” Stumpf said. They needed time to sort out a lot of things and get themselves up and running with the way that they do marketing. The key will be getting more businesses as FiberNet subscribers.”

Stumpf said Mills Fleet Farm finally coming to Monticello was a huge development.

“I was here at the beginning when they first showed interest in Monticello,” Stumpf said. “They bought the land here nine years ago. Fleet Farm has a process that they go through when deciding to bring a store to a community. They’ve bought and actually held property for 12 years before they’ve built on it. They don’t ask for public money or tax increment financing [to get a project going].”

Stumpf said fostering a coalition approach to transportation issues and project funding has proved benefical.

“Using that approach has helped get interested communities and parties working together,” he said. “You have a couple of chamber of commerce groups involved as well. We feel through the coalition approach and continued lobbying, we were able to get the three lanes of Interstate 94 all the way out to St. Michael.”

In the beginning, Stumpf said he was opposed to the whole idea of coalitions.

“When I was first elected to the council back in 1994, I met with the Minnesota Department of Transportation [MnDOT] at the Clearwater American Legion. They were talking about a river crossing,” Stumpf said. “Twenty-two years later, there’s no crossing. Now, we really need two crossings instead of one. We have to go to the feds [in Washington] and to MnDOT jointly and unified. You have to go to these people with a plan and a vision,” Stumpf said, adding the I-94 West Corridor Coalition visits the nation’s capitol about three times a year. Stumpf said he plans to make a lobbying trip next year.

Stumpf said he isn’t pleased with the recently completed Highway 25 and County Road 75 (West Broadway) intersection improvement project.

“I don’t like the intersection design,” he said. “To me, the entire thing is stupid when it comes to pedestrian and traffic flow.”

Regarding a related issue, downtown development, Stumpf said Monticello faces a unique set of problems.

“The Monticello Economic Development Authority has authorized a study for downtown for housing and business. One of the things about downtown is that its length near the river hurts us. If you look at the actual core of downtown Monticello, from Red’s Marathon to Kwik Stop we only have three or four blocks. Other communities, like Hastings and Stillwater have blocks and blocks near their river areas.”

Stumpf said city planners and members of the EDA will need to come up with something that’s unique and different.

“We can’t take advantage of the river because the banks are too steep,” Stumpf said, adding that the Monticello post office is looking make a move to its annex by Burger King.

The Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park has been an important undertaking for the city of Monticello and Wright County, Stumpf said.

“Bertram has been a big thing for the last nine years,” Stumpf said. “We closed on the last parcel Dec. 1. The land acquisition part is done. It’s a sealed deal. It’s been huge. We’ve received so much money from the state of Minnesota in terms of grants. If we didn’t take the money, somebody else outside of our county would have taken it.”

Stumpf wrapped up his state of the city recap by mentioning next year’s city budget. “We’ll increase the levy amount by a little bit and still be able to get some things done,” he said.

Contact Tim Hennagir at [email protected]