Fagerlie: Ready, able to continue serving
WILLMAR -- Rick Fagerlie said he's seeking re-election to the Willmar City Council from Ward 3 because people have stopped him or called him at work and at home to say that he has been doing a good job for more than 20 years and that he should co...
WILLMAR - Rick Fagerlie said he’s seeking re-election to the Willmar City Council from Ward 3 because people have stopped him or called him at work and at home to say that he has been doing a good job for more than 20 years and that he should continue to represent the ward.
“There does come a time when enough is enough. But currently I am still ready and able to serve four more years,’’ said Fagerlie.
He graduated from Willmar High School, received an associate degree from Willmar Community College (now Ridgewater College) and received a bachelor’s degree in park and recreation with an emphasis in community education from Mankato State University (now called Minnesota State University - Mankato).
He did a college internship in the Willmar Park and Recreation Department and worked two years for the department after graduation. He worked for an insurance inspection firm for 12 years covering the west central area and did safety inspections, valuations and appraisals, and earned two state licenses. Currently he owns an appraisal company.
“I am a local business person working with everyday people. I have knowledge on how government works. I have experience in the park and recreation field, and I know valuations on properties, which helps when it comes time each year with city staff for the City Board of Review of Valuation,’’ he said.
Fagerlie said he will continue to support strong police and fire departments. He said streets are also a main concern, and he said a financing change will be needed because property owners are also feeling the pinch. He said the city has many parks, which is good.
“But we will need to address this also.’’ He said most parks have outdated equipment and are not up to American Disabilities Act standards.
The Tribune asked how the council can catch up on unmet infrastructure needs.
“We need to have a 5- to 15-year plan on city buildings. We need to know the current condition and what the future needs are of each building - siding, windows, roof, heating and cooling - so that we can budget for them,’’ he said.
Fagerlie said the city has a current street plan for age and condition, and staff is informing the council which streets need reconstruction, overlay and sealcoating. But the decision also comes down to replacement of sewer/water lines at the same time; how much state aid money is involved; and how much will be assessed to adjacent property owners (60-40 percent split with the city).
“To help with this problem, the state will need to let each community have a street charge like we have with the utility replacement fund or we need to raise the levy so that the amount needed for the next year’s street project is taxed on the property tax bill and that no one would be assessed,’’ he said.
When the Tribune asked what is right with Willmar, Fagerlie said Willmar still has very friendly and big-hearted, helpful citizens.
He said the community is safe with a strong police force along with help if needed from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office. He said the city has a highly rated fire department, good street lighting, plowed and sanded roads in the winter, and walking paths in and around the community with a beautiful lakes area in northern Willmar.
He cited many parks, the aquatic center, city swimming beach, the nonprofit Barn Theatre, high school and middle school plays, regional hospital, ambulance service, strong EMT force, and two medical clinics.
Other amenities and services include a municipal utilities department; modern waste treatment plant able to accommodate more customers; modern airport; Ridgewater College; good public schools; new charter school; and MinnWest Technology Campus with small businesses and many professional people.
Contrary to a consultant’s claim in 2013, Fagerlie said the council is not dysfunctional.
“We have a lot of different personalities and a lot of opinions, and people want to see things done their way and it doesn’t always work out,’’ he said. “We’re supposed to be a team and we’re supposed to be democratic where the majority rules.’’
Fagerlie describes Mayor Frank Yanish’s announcement at the council retreat that Yanish could not be alone with City Administrator Charlene Stevens as a “bombshell.’’
“No one really knew that or why that was the reason. And two council people in a little group couldn’t get along. They started arguing and the consultant said we’re done. It’s in the eyes of the beholder,’’ Fagerlie said. “But I don’t think we’re dysfunctional. We get our job done. It’s just that a lot of questions are asked and we don’t rubber stamp things like some other boards or commissions in the area.’’
The Tribune asked how council members should balance representing constituents and the advice of city staff.
“For me, what I’ve always done is if an issue comes up - if I have questions - I’ll ask people in the community. I’ll ask staff. I do talk to them. But I don’t like to put it out in the open to make someone look bad. I want to decide on my own. I’ve been told by different council people and by community leaders and business people that I’m probably the most neutral person on the council,’’ Fagerlie said.
“I actually look at the project or the idea before I speak or vote. There are some people on the council that as soon as they bring up an idea, there’s a couple that are against it no matter whether they’ve heard the whole agenda item or not and vice versa,’’ he said.
“It’s frustrating. We need a strong leader, and the mayor has not been that person. It should get better after a new mayor is elected. He had good intentions. But it hasn’t worked out.’’