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Chief Executive Officer
Andrew Richter - True North
Out in Oak Grove the Met Council has found a formidable opponent in Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin who is fighting their regional planning tooth and nail.
Podcast 501 - Mark Korin
Podcast 501 - Mark Korin Podcast 501 - Mark Korin. Hear the story of a small town Minnesota Mayor's battle with the mighty Met Council's planning czars in Podcast 501 - Mark Korin. Oak Grove mayor Korin has had it with the overbearing manner and attitude of the Twin Cities' premier regional planning agency; [...] Click here to view original post thebobdavispodcasts.com
2011-12-05 - Guests: Jonathan Blake and Mayor Mark Korin
Then we talk with Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin about how he cut his city's levy by more that 18%, the largest such cut in the state.
Mark Korin "Somebody has to keep an eye on you people." That was Mark Korin's response, before he was elected to the Oak Grove City Council, when asked why he was sitting in on so many council meetings. And that is still his attitude about city government now that he's mayor. Oak Grove is a 36-square-mile city located west of East Bethel. It has a population of about 8,000. Korin served several years on the Oak Grove Park Board and Planning Commission, including 12 years as the Planning Commission chair. But when he spoke to the Lakes Area Business Association in Forest Lake on Wednesday, Sept. 25, the main topic was his cost-cutting accomplishments as mayor. Korin was elected to the City Council in 2008 and became mayor in 2011. At that time Oak Grove had a city administrator, finance director and two full-time building officials, he said; double-digit increases had left the city with a $3.2 million budget. In the three years he's been mayor, things have changed. Now one person shares the duties of city manager and city planner. The building department has been eliminated. The finance director is gone and payroll is outsourced. The city levy has been reduced by 26 percent and $1.2 million. Korin visited Forest Lake to tell members of the Lakes Area Business Association how these reductions were accomplished. After the city administrator resigned, Korin said, he volunteered to serve as both mayor and administrator. He worked about three days a week for the city for almost a year. According to media reports, Korin asked for $1,500 per month for this service. Instead he continued to receive just the mayor salary, $6,000 a year, plus $1,300 for serving on the Economic Development Authority. "I felt compelled to bring my values as a business owner to the city," he said. "I took on the duties of administrator until we could figure out what was needed and the economy turned around." Korin, a design engineer, is founder and president of DepotStar, an engineering and manufacturing services provider. He worked at Medtronic before running his own company. Korin said he had experienced a downturn in his business and had to lay off employees. At the peak he had 54 employees, he said, but after a major client left, that number dropped for a while to just 12. But when he made efforts to reduce city staff, he met with resistance. The city administrator, who was paid $99,000 per year plus benefits, disagreed that cuts were needed. "Staff did a lot to justify their job to keep from getting laid off," he said. "The city administrator brought me a Forbes magazine with a cover that said 'Recession over, recovery in six months.' I still have it," he said. After the administrator quit, a search firm wanted $20,000 to help find a new administrator, Korin said, and told him it would cost the city $160,000 per year to hire someone qualified. "He's the best decision I ever made for my city," Korin said. "She was working 50 to 60 hours a week and said she needed additional staff," Korin said. An accounting firm bid $50,000 to do the job in four days a month. Later, Korin said, the accounting firm employee told him, "I don't know what I'm going to do on that fourth day," as the workload did not require that much time. Another point of contention between Korin and city staff was the amount of reserve cash. The city had $12 million in the bank but was increasing the levy, he said. "We need to spend all this," he said he was told, "and if we don't spend all that plus more, we can't raise taxes next year." To save money for law enforcement, Korin took on the county sheriff. Oak Grove contracts for police coverage through Anoka County. The outgoing sheriff, he said, told Oak Grove that the city needed to increase from 16 hours per day to 24-hour police coverage, at a cost of about $700,000. Korin resisted, saying crime was down and Oak Grove residents should not pay more just to offset budgetary issues in the county. With East Bethel and Ham Lake, Oak Grove considered creating an alternate system for police protection. In the end the Anoka County contract was maintained, but for 20 hours a day. The cost was less than $500,000. "In business, we have to be held accountable," Korin said. In government, "I've never seen a bigger shell game in my whole life." Forest Lake case Korin said he sees many parallels between the cities of Oak Grove and Forest Lake and urged members of LABA to become even more involved in city issues. Tags:cost of city government, featured, Lakes Area Business Association, Mark Korin
ABC Newspapers | letters to the editor
Not long ago we had the opportunity to have breakfast with Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin.
Mark also owns and manages a manufacturing plant in Ramsey. It was refreshing to listen to an elected official who uses good common sense. Mark eliminated the city manager's job and a few other jobs, saving the ... Read More
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