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Budget process, growth are high on city's to-do list for 2012

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news Farmington, 55024

Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Everybody sets some kind of goals for the new year. Farmington's leaders are no exception.

City administrator David McKnight and Mayor Todd Larson have plenty planned for the coming year. The goals they see on the horizon will cost some money, but some will save money, too. And if Larson has his way, one will even make some money.

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Looking ahead to 2012, Larson said the time has come to take a long, hard look at why Farmington is not able to attract more new business to the community.

"We have to do something about the lack of business," Larson said. "I'm done with the recession excuse, done with the population excuse. I want to find out what it's going to take to get them here ... and if they're not ready to come, what are they waiting for? That's what I want to find out. I've been asking that question for the past three years and haven't gotten any answers yet."

Another priority for the mayor is to address issues surrounding the visibility and accessibility of the downtown Farmington Liquor Store. The city's lease in its current location is up soon, so city officials are considering relocating the liquor store. Finding a new location is among the top items Larson would like to accomplish in 2012.

"The bottom line is, we have the ability to make a lot more money than we are making, so we need to make those changes. We know what those changes are, we just have to make them."

But Larson also understands the city will have to spend some money in 2012 -- especially if city officials give the nod to buy a new fire truck. That's something Larson expects will happen next year, as well.

His goals, council's goals

McKnight knows he has his work cut out for himself in the coming year. While he has his own goals, he's got the aspirations of the Farmington City Council to incorporate, as well.

The biggest task facing McKnight next year is to revamp the city budget process. He plans to start as soon as spring or early summer. He's planning to move the whole budget timeline up by several weeks so most of the budget work is done by the end of summer, or early fall at the latest.

McKnight also plans to conduct an organizational review, which will likely lead to the restructuring of staff and services. That was made necessary during the 2012 budget process, when city council members used $367,000 of one-time fiscal disparities funds to reduce the size of the 2012 property tax levy.

"I now have a gap in 2013 that I have to figure out how to eliminate," McKnight said. "Staff and service, they go hand in hand, and because the dollar amount is significant, that's going to take place in 2012."

Even though he was raised in Farmington, McKnight still wants to get out to the community more in the next year, to get to know residents in his new role as city administrator. He's also hoping to promote more of the good things that happen within the city.

Those are his own goals, but McKnight is also charged with achieving the goals set by the city council. He plans to have a goal-setting workshop early in the new year, and will learn more about council's expectations during his upcoming six-month review.

"Their goals help set my work direction next year. They need to share their view with me," McKnight said. "I'm going to carry out that direction they set."

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