Residents of Osseo will vote Tuesday, Nov. 3, in the election for the city to fill three positions on the city council.

The three positions include the position of mayor (two-year term) and two city council positions (four-year term).

Incumbent Mayor Duane Poppe is running against Kathleen Gette and Mark Regan for the mayor’s seat.

Candidates for the four-year city council seats are incumbent Harold Johnson, Kenny Nelson, and Alicia Vickerman.

The candidates were asked to include their thoughts in statements. Each were asked to include a short biography of themselves and their backgrounds as well as their personal and professional experiences. They were also asked to comment on two questions that were asked. (See questions belows in each statement).

The responses received include:

MAYOR

Kathleen Gette

Biographical information:

Address: 525 Second Avenue NW, Osseo

Education: BA Communications

Occupation: Retired from 40-year career in communications, contracts, proposal/solution/team development, project management.

Community involvement: Represented Osseo on the NHHSC [2014-2015], chaired Osseo’s Historical Preservation Commission [2015-2017], and led campaign to list Osseo’s water tower in the National Register of Historic Places. [2013-2018]

Contact information: 612-483-6512

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

Osseo’s city budget likely requires not only adjustments but a complete overhaul, based on the League of Minnesota Cities’ report which shows Osseo’s average city tax rate is nearly twice that of Minnetonka’s. (See response in Question 2.)

Upon establishing a new city council wholly committed to putting residents first, we would follow improved review protocol to determine needed budget adjustments. The new evaluation process would include meaningful, timely, transparent communication to share findings with residents and allow residents opportunity to provide input on key budget issues – especially those that may negatively affect their financial wellbeing.

It is imperative council members actively incorporate the service leadership ideology in management of the city’s budget to provide good stewardship of public funds.  

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

The League of Minnesota Cities’ report excerpt shows Osseo’s average city tax rate is nearly twice that of Minnetonka’s. (Source: League of Minnesota Cities 2019) Osseo’s was 60.0087% and Minnetonka was 34.7044%.

High property taxes combined with an unfavorable financial assessment demonstrates the city has abandoned its residents.

The city’s primary responsibility is to serve the residents of Osseo, elevate residents’ needs, and ensure prudent stewardship of public funds.

My overarching plan to address Osseo’s high property taxes is to:

1. Develop a course of fiscal responsibility built on creative solutions such as proactive financial planning and investments

2. Communicate clearly, transparently, and timely with residents

3. Provide opportunities for residents to give feedback/ideas/solutions

4. Establish competitive RFP/bid process when hiring vendors to ensure projects are priced fairly and outcomes meet contractual requirements

5. Seek and carefully consider residents’ input prior to making decisions and signing vendor contracts.

Osseo residents deserve compassionate council members who communicate transparently, use residents’ feedback in the decision-making process, and judiciously manage public funds.

Duane Poppe

Biographical information:

Address: 408 5th Ave NE Osseo

Education: BA Concordia Collage Moorhead, MN

Occupation: Managing Principal of Lee & Associates – Commercial Real Estate

Community involvement: Osseo Mayor 2013-2020, Osseo City Council Member 2010 – 2012, and Osseo EDA Member 2010-2020

Contact information: DPoppe@ci.osseo.mn.us

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

The budget is something that is constantly looked at and adjusted annually. Though the capital improvement plan and financial management plan that I developed for the City it helps to determine needs and the financial impacts to the City long term.  

From that information we can make adjustments where needed to reduce the impact to the residents of Osseo.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

My number one goal is the continued financial health of the city. I have worked tirelessly with various councils over the years both as a council member and Mayor to help put our city on solid financial footing.  

This was recently confirmed by our AA bond rating for city. Through strong financial management and smart development is how we were able to accomplish this and lower the tax rate the past 7 years.

Mark Regan

Biographical information:

Address: 125 Fifth Ave NE

Education: High School diploma (Osseo Sr), some secondary education/Penn State, Hennepin Technical

Licenses: GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendent, 22 years), MN Department of Agriculture -   

Commercial Pesticide Applicator

Occupation: Local Business Owner – Lawn and Snow removal/French Lake Golf/Rental properties

Community involvement: Past Osseo fire fighter, youth hockey coach for OMGHA

Contact information: 612-868-7813

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

The 2021 budget is $1.7 million where we will concentrate on main street preservation, business developments, and public safety should be top on our list.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

Keeping taxes as low as possible, especially in these uncertain times. While maintaining infrastructure and property values that helps support economic growth.

COUNCIL

Harold Johnson

Biographical information:

Address: 12th Street NE. #106 Osseo

Education: BA degree in Accounting

Community involvement: Was owner partner founder Johnson Giere Ltd. CPA firm working with businesses and individuals for their accounting, tax and financial needs. Member of Osseo City Council elected 2014, member EDA, budget and finance, park and rec., historical society and other City activities and functions.

Contact information: 763-424-3707

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

Public safety for Osseo includes both police and fire departments, which is one of the higher budget items. Osseo police department is listed as the sixth safest small city in state with population under 10,000. The fire department is well trained and well equipped, which has made Osseo fire rate  decrease in recent years. Being safe has always been concern residents and businesses have indicated as being of very important to them.  

Public works is another department that works very hard to make the city attractive and operating properly for all, several pieces of new equipment have been recently added to make this possible to continue.

Staff has been provided with training and equipment to do their tasks as efficient as possible during the time of this pandemic, which has been stressful.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

A house in Osseo when placed on the market is sold very quickly. High demand makes value and sale price to increase, which will cause the real estate tax amount to increase as well. The valuation for tax purposes are controlled by Hennepin Assessor, which then is used to determine County, School and City tax assessment.  

Osseo works to keep its levy as low as possible to operate the city properly. Good to see that many new homeowners are younger families with children to go to our schools, use our parks and take part in activities occurring in the city.

Kenny Nelson

Biographical information:

Address: 509 Third Avenue NE, Osseo, MN 55369

Education: Graduated from Elk River High School in 2002.

Occupation: A truck driver for 15+ years; 13 years with a company.

Community involvement: I was appointed to the Osseo Planning Commission in January 2020.

Contact information: KennyNelsonForOsseo@gmail.com

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

I would love to say there are big budget cuts to be made, and we could save everyone a lot of money on their taxes; but, I’m honest. The reality of the situation, however, is that Osseo has a pretty lean budget of $3 million and the biggest ticket item on there is the police department at $1 million; most of that goes to wages, pensions, and insurance.  

I do not support cutting down on our police presence with the current uncertain atmosphere. My neighbor’s car was broken into while parked in her driveway.  

With no large obvious items to cut, I will work hard on identifying things that we can save money on, as well as identifying grants the city could qualify for.

 I would like to see the city invest in our parks; especially reopening the discussion on the proposed expansion of Boerboom Park as well as asking Hennepin County to speed up construction on the Crystal Lake regional trail along County Road 81.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

As far as a discussion about taxes, at this time I worry that $649,597 of state aid will be cut which would leave our property taxes to make up the difference in the budget. This worries me as we have a lot of residents on fixed incomes.  

I recognize that higher taxes are also an impediment to a good atmosphere in our business and commercial district, which is important as they also contribute to taxes. I would like to make the taxes you pay for the city of Osseo more transparent; such as gas, electric, and garbage fees. On the revenue side of things, I will always be looking for more of it, but I’m not in favor of sending our police out with the specific goal of generating revenue.

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