Monticello residents will select three council positions when they head to the polls to vote Tuesday, Nov. 4.
City residents vote at the Monticello Community Center gym. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In 2014 the mayor and two city council positions are up for election.
The mayor serves a two-year term and council members each serve four-year terms.
All terms begin the first Monday in January 2015. The mayor is the official head of the city.
The person holding this position is the presiding officer at city council meetings and casts a vote in council decisions.
The mayor is also the executor of official city documents, has the authority to make certain appointments and has the power to call official meetings.
The mayor is paid $700 monthly and receives no benefits but does have the option to participate in a defined contribution plan administered by Public Employees
Retirement Association (PERA) with a 5 percent city match.
Monticello’s mayor acts as a liaison between the city and the general public.
Councilmember Glen Posusta was the third and final candidate to file for Monticello mayor when filings closed in August, joining fellow Councilmember Brian Stumpf and challenger Joshua Dickinson on the final slate of 2014 candidates.
The Monticello Times asked mayoral candidates to submit their biographies and answer these three questions: 1) FiberNet 2015 budget numbers show the city needs to provide $443,616 in funding to alleviate another shortfall. Explain in detail why you support or oppose continued use of liquor fund transfers to support FiberNet Monticello operations. 2) The FiberNet general manager position has been a source of instability. Explain why you support or oppose hiring a general manager as a full-time city employee. 3) The ReSTOREing Downtown effort envisions revitalizing key areas via extensive redevelopment. What is your vision for properties within Block 52 and Block 34 and do you support relocation of the Monticello DMV and Monticello Help Center?
Questionnaire responses from the three mayoral candidates appear in alphabetical order.
Name, Address, Family (including spouse and children); Education (highest degree and major obtained); Occupation; Years In City/District/County; Community/Civic Involvement; Candidate Contact Information.
Dickinson: Joshua Arnold Dickinson, 600 W. Fourth St., Monticello, MN 55362;
Married to Tessa Dickinson; daughter, Marissa is age 8; Tessa’s son, Owen, is age 6. The couple does not have any children together. From 2004 to 2010, Dickinson co-owned Old Skool Kustoms in downtown Monticello with his brothers, Jesse and Jordan Dickinson. Prior to 2004, he spent many years in the technology industry in various leadership positions providing service, sales, and management. Dickinson is currently a special education teacher in the Annandale School District; he has a master’s degree in special education with a licensure specialty in emotional and behavioral disorders. Dickinson moved to Monticello in 1980 as a child and graduated from Monticello High School in 1993. After graduation, he moved out of the area to attend college and pursue a career. He has lived in Monticello as an adult since 2001. He has served the community as a Boy Scout, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in 1993. Professionally, he has represented a group of businesses through the Monticello Downtown Business Association, serving as a board member and as president. Contact: www.joshdickinsonformayor.com.
Posusta: Glen Posusta, 2330 Eastwood Circle, Monticello, MN 55362; Wife: Lois; Children: Gina, Ryan and Megan; Education: Bachelor of Science Degree from St Cloud State University; Occupation: Built, own and operate A-MAX Self Storage in Monticello, a U-Haul Dealership; Years in City: 12; Years in District: 38; Years in County: 61, Born and raised in Wright County; Community/Civic Involvement: Council Liaison on many committees over past 12 years, member of St. Henry’s Church for 38 years and member of Monticello’s Lions Club for 21 years. Contact: (C) 763-219-0418.
Stumpf: Brian Stumpf, 110 Vine St. Monticello, MN 55362; Married, wife, Deborah; Children: Grown Children; Owner of Monticello Towing; Lived in Monticello all my life (52 years); Graduate of Monticello High School; Civic Involvement: 20 years on the Monticello City Council, 24 years as a Firefighter/First Responder for the Monticello Fire Department which includes 4 years as a Fire Captain and eight years on the Monticello Economic Development Authority (EDA). Contact: www.stumpfformayor.com
Question 1 (FiberNet Budget Shortfall)
Dickinson: To date, there is limited evidence that FiberNet has had any positive impact on the community of Monticello. The financial burden and significant strain placed on city operations is by no means a significant driver of economic development as it was framed and “sold” to the community in 2007. Each day that FiberNet continues to operate is a drain on taxpayer resources. Whether residents subscribe to FiberNet or not, through taxes, they are paying for the continued poor planning and decision making of past city officials. Any further money invested into this government-owned broadband network is a burden on taxpayers and a sacrifice to appropriate economic development in the city of Monticello. The question of whether or not to use liquor funds to support continued FiberNet operations highlights a significant conflict of interest in this city. City government should not be involved in private industry, particularly when they are negatively impacting opportunity for entrance into the competitive market. The only liquor store option in Monticello is the one the city owns, locking out the ability for proprietors to enter the marketplace in Monticello. This control over what should be private industry oversteps “service to community” and supports an unfair trade restriction.
Posusta: I would first like to explain the $443,616 is based upon the assumption that everything stays the same – the expenses, the personnel, and the income. We will continue to strive to decrease our costs while increasing our revenue stream. I believe our short fall next year in operations will be closer to $250,000 to $300,000. I feel that is a palatable number that we can live with. I don’t believe, at this juncture, that FiberNet will ever be a profitable entity. Just like the Monticello Community Center, baseball, soccer fields, bike paths, parks or Bertrum Chain of Lakes – it is an asset that makes Monticello a more desirable place to live. The collective “savings” for Internet, TV and telephone for everyone in Monticello since FiberNet’s existence exceeds our investment. People in Monticello now live in one of the most “connected” cities in America. No other city has two fiberoptic companies to choose from. We must also remember why FiberNet came to be. It was voted in by 74 percent of the people who wanted a change or should I say “choice.” Just ask people in Annandale or Big Lake how they like their telephone or internet company with no competition as was the case in Monticello pre-FiberNet.
Stumpf: It is not that I support using liquor store reserves to fund the shortfall of FiberNet; unfortunately, due to the circumstances we are facing, it is the best alternative without raising the levy. The liquor store reserves are unallocated funds that help the community in many ways, including keeping our taxes lower. If a shortfall continues to be a burden, we will have to make some important decisions regarding FiberNet as a whole. Of course, some hope it does not come to this, however, as elected officials we will need to do what is responsible. With that being said, we have seen cost savings this year by not having an overpaid contractor managing the facility at over $30,000 a month, the reduction of the operating costs, a more efficient billing system and the sale of some unnecessary equipment to finance positive changes. If the decision is to continue with FiberNet, we will eventually need to hire someone to oversee the operations, but we are at a point where we won’t need to do so at such a costly and inefficient price to our community.
Question 2 (FiberNet General Manager)
Dickinson: The solution to the FiberNet struggle is not simply a general manager problem. Government-owned broadband networks are unassumingly a bad idea. Monticello’s local government was not and is not prepared to fund and adjust to competitive pressures. Additionally, city government does not possess the experience and knowledge necessary to provide appropriate customer satisfaction and adjust quickly to a rapidly evolving, technologically advanced, communications market. The city’s initial plan for FiberNet inaccurately assumed that the broadband market would not change as it entered the field. When the competition reacted and adjusted to the new player, Monticello did not alter its plan and with great arrogance chose instead to follow the path of least resistance…a plan that had already met approval of city officials. The result has been financial distress and proof that the inexperienced City of Monticello is not equipped to compete in a well-functioning and active communication market. My solution? Start the bidding. It is time to accept failure and sell FiberNet to a buyer with experience and proficiency. Monticello should get out of the communication/broadband business and stay out of the private marketplace. Any other business would do just this in the face of perpetual losses and total mismanagement.
Posusta: The instability of the general manager at FiberNet at the start was caused by HBC, our original consulting firm that helped us transition into the fiber optics field. We soon discovered they created us as a revenue stream for themselves, and did not have our best interests at heart. FiberConnect was hired as a company to get us out from under HBC’s thumb. [Former General Manager] Mark Pultusker helped immensely as someone who knew the field and what needed to be done. He identified many costs and found ways to lower or eliminate them. Mark also increased FiberNet’s revenue streams as well as hired the best people in key positions to get FiberNet closer to profitability. Mark helped FiberNet a lot but at a very high cost of $33,000 per month. We felt that since his “turn around” job was done, we moved on. We currently are partnering with WindomNet and other broadband cities in Minnesota for the needed management expertise in the fiber field. We will help each other to become successful in broadband for all our benefit to bring our communities into the 21st Century and beyond.
Stumpf: Hiring on a general manager as a full-time city employee I think is certainly something worth considering. I have to say that with the trouble we’ve had with contracted managers, hiring a general manager as a city employee may ultimately be a cost savings to our community. Not only cost saving but also it could promote a level of commitment from the employee to their job. Ultimately, hiring on or contracting a general manager all waivers on FiberNet’s future.
Question 3 (Downtown Development)
Dickinson: Over the past decade there has been great emphasis, time, and resources spent on the analysis of the downtown area. This is not a new concept or idea, rather a rehash of decades prior to this one. The latest round of “study” done by the city is just the latest take on how to make something different out of a perceived area of loss; one that will attract shining big box knights to save the kingdom. Monticello needs a diversified opportunity for businesses of any size or at any stage of development to thrive. Monticello could be a place for the “American Dream” to become a reality. ReSTOREing does not begin with demolition, rezoning, rebuilding, and tax base reclassification. Rebirth and growth of downtown starts with a culture at city government level that attracts and supports new business; a culture that applies a “how can we help” approach instead of the “block and barricade” practices flexing ordinance and regulation through intimidation and condescension. Relocation of the DMV and Help Center should not occur without a plan. One that addresses consumer demand and future growth taking into account the efficiencies of maintaining all city services in one location.
Posusta: I, like many others, don’t see this as a huge priority. We are in the process of removing some of the buildings on the southeast corner of Highway 25 and Broadway (Block 34). The primary reason for that demolition is for improving the traffic flow of the Highway 25 and Broadway intersection. Wright County and the state of Minnesota have their say in this process, too. Wright County wants us to eliminate parking on Broadway. I will fight against that move. Eliminating parking will make downtown look deserted as what happened in Howard Lake when the state “improved” Highway 12. That hurt businesses and actually put some of out of business. Relocation of the DMV and Help Center is easily done with other currently owned city buildings. Block 52 and other downtown blocks have been bantered about for “redevelopment.” This should be driven by private enterprise and not something created by the city for a “new” downtown. If the landowners or building owners want to be a part of that, it should be their decision, not by city hall.
Stumpf: The city of Monticello and the EDA own a large portion of Block 34. I see this as a key block in the future, unfortunately, there are costs associated with this block pertaining to the removal of the wells which I have been told is upwards of a million dollars for removal. This does not include the demolition of the three sites the city and EDA own along Broadway that need to be removed for intersection improvements. There are some key parcels that would need to be addressed for development, and since I am not interested in forcing anyone out of their business, the timing has to be right for everyone involved. As for Block 52, I see this block as another one of the key components to downtown Monticello. The block is currently owned by several different property owners and again, I would leave that up to the developer and property owners and not force anyone out of business. The Help Center is outgrowing its current location; the city is currently working with them on another suitable site. I don’t see the DMV needing to be relocated at this time.