If elected, what is your top priority for the term? Why are you running for office?
Kevin Raney: Continue working with the city strategic plan, downtown streetscape, park plan, and wastewater expansion project, keep budgets below tax rate. I have served two terms for the 4th Ward. In that time, I have worked with a very dedicated City Council, mayor, department heads and city employees. I look forward to continue working with these great people so that our goals are reached.
What will be your approach to balancing the budget in terms of reducing spending and/or raising taxes and fees?
KR: Our City Council has worked hard to keep the tax levy below tax rate. Budget priorities are first with public safety specifically Police Department, Fire Department and Wastewater treatment operations. After making sure those budgets are where they need to be the Public Works, Library, Park and Recreation budgets are proposed. Quality of live/leisure time activities are a critical part of drawing in and maintaining a strong workforce.
What are priorities you would like to see for the city’s roads and bridges?
KR: Our community like most others struggled to fund road reconstruction projects during the 2000 recession. As we have come out of it the city has rated all roadways within the city and continues to rebuild roads based on how they were rated. The city did spend a considerable amount of money in 2018 rebuilding parking lots and roadways that were in disrepair. We will continue with the rating plan and do projects, as monies are available. One other project that will be a critical part of transportation in Owatonna is the northeast to southeast corridor of the city. With the new high school being built in SE Owatonna that project urgency has moved up.
How do you plan to continue to prioritize the growth of business in Owatonna, both downtown and in the industrial park?
KR: We have been fortunate with the new industrial projects along with expansion projects the past six years. Companies are recognizing the Owatonna area as having great roadways specifically Hwy. 14 and I-5 in order to move products to their customers. The challenge with continued expansion in the industrial park will be to provide the businesses with a strong workforce. The new high school will be a great tool for preparing our students to work in these industries. We continue to see more businesses choosing to open in our downtown district. The streetscape study findings offered many suggestions on enhancing the downtown retail area. As we implement those changes, it will provide an even better shopping experience for our community members and out of town guests.
What role do you see the city taking in increasing the availability of affordable housing as the city continues to grow?
KR: The city has seen much growth in the past 6 years in the housing industry. Apartment offerings are up substantially. I believe that single-family housing will continue to rise within our community. As that takes place, the city will work with developers on those projects.