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Sleepy Eye Mayor Wayne Pelzel's message for November

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Thank you to all who supported me in the election. I truly am honored to be your mayor.

I also want to recognize all who voted in the election. We have such a great opportunity to let our voices be heard by casting our ballot.

One of the positions that a couple local candidates stated was that City government lacked transparency. When I was elected to this position four years ago I started this column in this paper just to address transparency. My goal was to keep the citizens informed and to explain as much as I was able about the situation. The only times I couldn’t do that was if I and the Council were legally bound to keep personnel matters under wraps. There were times I really didn’t want to explain situations, but knew I was obligated to do that. There were also times that I would have liked to tell everything I could about a matter, but knew that I was legally bound not to. I renew my efforts to be transparent. Also, I suspect that at times criticism of transparency may really have been about not hearing what the critic wanted to hear.

Another position of a candidate was that the City “needs the money.” I’ve explained in a couple columns and in a couple speaking situations that the City is really in good financial condition. I would add that the City’s financial books are audited EVERY year. Yes, the City does have debt, but good planning, sound financial management, and responsible budgeting make the City’s debt manageable and reasonable. Take this past summer’s $13 million infrastructure improvements. This project was being planned for four years when I was first elected. Why was it planned for now? It was planned for now because the City was going to retire debt on a large previous infrastructure improvement and that money would now be available to help retire the debt incurred on this project. That good planning explains how a City with a $5 million budget can afford to do a $13 million infrastructure project. This sound planning was in place started by previous City management and Councils.

Now, here is some additional transparency. Yes, there is a privately held company that is interested in purchasing the former Del Monte property. Again, we’ve been asked by the potential buyer not to disclose any more information about this matter at this time. This is a matter between a privately held company (Seneca), and a private buyer. The City is not involved, other than to provide requested information. This is a real opportunity if it can get done, as it would provide jobs in our community. City representatives have been out to visit a couple of the buyer’s other plants at his request. So, when asked, we will get involved and do all we can to help make this happen. Until that time, we’ll just have to wait and hope.

Speaking of purchases, we have several interested buyers of lots in both the 12th Avenue project and in the Snow property addition.

We welcome the new library staff. Lisa Steffl, the library director, comes to the library from the Event Center where she was a very capable manager. Lisa brings a degree in Health Information Administration to the job. Her staff of new library aides is made up of Sarah Hinderman, Angela Mielke, Patti Braulick, Katie Roiger and Wendy Hoffmann. These folks have degrees in English, Science, Communications, Social Work and Health, and several have worked as teachers.

We also want to wish Steve Lingen well as he moves on. Thank you, Steve, for your contribution to our community and especially to the parks.

COVID-19 is very present in our community right now. Keep your social distances and wear your mask.