If elected, what is your top priority for the term? Why are you running for office?
Greg Schultz: With a growing community like Owatonna we have many issues which command our attention, but the number one priority is always the budget. Providing the necessary services required by the citizens at a fair price is a challenging task. The next several years will require careful planning because of so many financial uncertainties created by the recent pandemic. My job on the City Council is to set proper short-term goals and long-range plans to achieve a balanced budget and provide for the needs of the community.
What will be your approach to balancing the budget in terms of reducing spending and/or raising taxes and fees?
GS: The first priority is to keep our tax rate in line with our tax capacity, allowing for a steady rate that residents and businesses can plan for. The city must take care of the basic needs of safety, fire protection and wastewater first. Protection of the public works infrastructure is paramount. Over the years we have funded many parts of the budget that are known and expected expenses. This allows us to withstand volatility in the economy and is sound financial planning that will reap dividends in the future. Quality of life items can sometimes be harder to justify in a down economy, but they are also the items that make Owatonna such a nice place to live and attracts businesses. Continued growth is the best for all of us as it generates a larger tax capacity and allows us to have the quality of life we appreciate in Owatonna.
What are priorities you would like to see for the city’s roads and bridges?
GS: The city will continue to follow the street condition inventory it has created. Streets have been rated on their condition and a schedule of maintenance and reconstruction is being followed as funds are available. This is proper planning to keep our streets in good condition. Looking into the future I think it is imperative that we identify an east side corridor. With the new high school located in southeast Owatonna a convenient flow of traffic must be achieved on the east side of town. Although it will be a challenging project in terms of design and financing, I believe this a much-needed project to begin work on.
How do you plan to continue to prioritize the growth of business in Owatonna, both downtown and in the industrial park?
GS: Owatonna is so fortunate to be located at the Intersection of Interstate 35 and Highway 14. Thus, we attract businesses that want to locate here. We have an impressive industrial park that we must continue to promote, maintain, and prepare for future business expansion. Bringing in good quality employees is one of the bigger factors in the growth of Owatonna. That is why I am so excited to hear the new high school is creating programming to help meet the needs of our local industries. It is important that the city offer amenities to attract and keep workers and their families in Owatonna. Attractive and affordable housing is a priority along with good quality of life features in the community. I support the continued redevelopment of downtown Owatonna to attract service and entertainment businesses.
What role do you see the city taking in increasing the availability of affordable housing as the city continues to grow?
GS: The city needs to partner with developers and builders of all types of housing. Already different types of housing have been addressed with over 500 housing units constructed in the past four years. A proper mix of single family and multifamily market rate housing will be needed along with work force housing programs. This is of particular interest to me because of my background and I work hard to see that the private sector and public sector work together. I see the city continuing to work with developers to navigate the complicated regulations and taxation consequences of many programs that the affordable housing builders must negotiate.