- Your Town
Dillon Mayor candidates discuss philosophy & ethics: Candidate Dr. Michael Klakken
Question 1 on philosophy – The mayor election is nonpartisan and yet both of the candidates in the past have claimed to be Republicans. A good tactic since in any given election, the electorate in Beaverhead County will vote 75 to 80% Republican. The Republican philosophy of small government and low taxes seems at odds with City of Dillon actions in recent years in which water and sewer rates have been raised twice, the street maintenance fee has been doubled and the number of city employees has dramatically increased.
How do you as a Republican, reconcile the actions of city government with your personal GOP philosophy? (up to 500 words)
I think best way to describe myself is a fiscal conservative. In the past I have voted for candidates or issues that I felt were closest to my positions. When I was on the city council I researched each and every item before the council. I do not recall voting for any tax increases in my tenure on the city council. I believe that the current water and sewer rates are too high and steps need to be taken to decrease the monthly payments. I attended some of the public meetings on the new sewer expansion project and voiced my concerns. I believe that the City moved too fast on bonding for this project. We were told, at the meetings that I attended; that the new EPA guidelines had not yet been finalized and there was no guarantee the new system would meet the new guidelines. I would not have started such a large scale project until the guidelines were finalized and then designed a system to meet the requirements. I am aware that interest rates are low but I do not believe you should continue to put the city further and further into debt. The Water and Sewer Revenue bonds, series 2011, alone put the city approximately $23 million into debt! The current administration did not seem concerned that the rates would double and the hardships it would cause the rate payers.
The mayor resurfaced 4 blocks on Glendale at a huge cost to the street maintenance fund. The tax payer will be paying off this debt for many years and these payments could not be made unless rates were increased. I agree that Glendale needed repairs but the cost of the project was too large and when they bonded for the project they borrowed more money than required. In the last few weeks I have been walking around Dillon and there are many streets that need work. Until this debt is repaid other needed repairs will have to be delayed. I do not know what the plans are for the additional funds but it is my understanding that the bonds were structured so that no prepayment could be made for a certain number of years. I disagree with the current administration and feel that they were too willing to bond before it was absolutely necessary.
Until I am able to determine what each employee’s responsibility is I cannot say that there are too many employees. I do believe that the increase in the city treasurer’s hours and salary were not necessary. I also feel that the taxpayers are paying the city attorney’s position too much money. The city is currently employing two part-time attorneys and I feel that if there is that much work it would be cheaper to hire one full time salary attorney instead of paying an hourly rate of approximately $120 for one of those attorneys.
Question 2 on ethics – At the insistence of two councilpersons (one of whom lives on the street and the other his relative), the City of Dillon approved a speed limit change on Thomsen Avenue from 25 MPH to 15 MPH. The Dillon Tribune continually pointed out at the time that the city did not follow state regulations in adopting the new speed limit and yet it still stands.
If elected, will the City of Dillon follow the laws and rules of the state as the citizens of Dillon are expected to do? (up to 500 words)
I strongly believe that the laws and rules must be followed. These procedures were set up to protect the tax payer and the city government. While on the council I was criticized for asking that the laws and rules be followed. If I pointed out that a law/rule was not followed the administration ignored or ridiculed my concerns. It is impossible to determine the future costs to the city to defend a position if the laws/rules are not followed. It is the responsibility of the Mayor and City Attorney to see that laws/rules are followed. When I was on the city council it was an unpaid position and most of the council relied on the City Attorney for legal advice. None of the council were lawyers and they had limited access to the laws/rules. If elected I will follow all laws/regulations to the best of my ability. If I make an error and it is brought to my attention I will take the possible and/or necessary steps to rectify the oversight. I do believe that the state regulations for speed limits should have been followed. If the street did not meet the requirements then the speed limit should have remained at 25.