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Beise reflects on what's next for City Council

Red Wing City Council chair Kim Beise at his Dowco office in Hastings. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia

In the 30-plus years since Red Wing City Council President Kim Beise moved to town, a few things have changed. Specifically, he said, when it comes to employment and housing.

Back then he remembers looking for a home with his wife and having the option to view up to 14 homes in a day, if they wanted.

"Today, I'd be lucky to find one," he said.

Another change is one that's affecting communities statewide: the number of employers struggling to fill positions and retain employees.

"In 30 years I don't remember there being a sign in front of Red Wing Shoe looking to hire, because people went there to work," Beise said. "But you go from one end of Red Wing to the other and there are help wanted signs everywhere.

"We need to help our businesses there so they don't need to go somewhere else to find their employees or take part of what they do and ship it out. We'd rather keep them here and build the business structure."

Beise said that the Red Wing City Council is concerned with these issues and other long-term plans for Red Wing — especially those that make up the city's budget.

"Last year didn't go the smoothest, towards the end," Beise said. "... So we're actually going to begin discussing it this month, setting forward a plan to hopefully have more opportunity for citizen involvement."

A big focus for city staff and City Council in 2018 is transparency, and there will be a special focus on actively seeking citizen feedback. Beise said he's excited for this plan because citizens are often not as informed as he'd like them to be. He hopes that, through outreach, things can change for the better.

"It's important because it's their tax dollars, it's there town, and they need to give input to it and say what they want," he said.

Beise said the council is also trying to televise more meetings and it will continue with last year's experiments using Facebook Live. The council also just approved a $21,000 annual subscription to MetroQuest, an online tool for gathering public input. A new website, due to launch May 2018, should also make city information more accessible. The website will be designed by Kansas-based CivicPlus — an expert team of municipal website builders.

"I feel fortunate to be (on the council)," Beise said. "It wasn't something I planned this early in my career but to be there now it's been very informative, it's been fun, and I look forward to continuing working with people and staff.

"We have a great city staff, I can't say enough about them."