Monkman: Business background is an asset
As a small business owner with two decades of ties to the Woodbury business community, Kelly Monkman said he believes his expertise in economic development and "real-world" budgeting are needed on the District 5 seat to the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
Monkman, an insurance agent and owner of the Woodbury Directory, praised the county for its reputation as being one of the most fiscally conservative in the state, but he believes the commissioners can do better in its spending and budget making process. Monkman pointed to a recent round of capital improvement projects at the government center he said generated perception among the public as bad timing with the current economic downturn. In 2008 and 2009 the jail, courthouse and government center in Stillwater underwent a major expansion and renovation project. Going forward Monkman said such capital improvements may need to be put further back on the list of priorities during lean budget years.
"You can't build state-of-the-art facilities and spend tons of money when revenues are dropping," Monkman, 44, said.
A former president of the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, Monkman said he wants to see the county invest in economic development plans that include incentives for businesses large and small to move to Washington County.
On recent budget issues, Monkman said he was glad to see the County Board recently approved a zero percent increase to its preliminary levy, but said commissioners need to be mindful of the true impact for taxpayers.
"All (county) revenues are based off property values and when you have zero percent increase but my house has gone down 25 percent in value and property taxes are the same, how is that not an increase?" Monkman said. "Values are decreasing, but services are increasing, so you need to get serious about how we are going to deliver all of this stuff for less cost."
On transit issues Monkman called out his opponent, incumbent Lisa Weik, for her 2008 campaign stance on repealing a county-wide quarter cent sales tax increase for transit that he said she has hardly brought up even as the county continues to participate in the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB).
Monkman acknowledged he doesn't believe the County Board has the political will to repeal the CTIB transit tax, but said if elected he plans to scrutinize the actual returns the county is getting for its investment in the metro-wide partnership.
"I want to see every dollar we invest into this transit tax comes back to Washington County. I don't think it's fair we invest our tax dollars in economic development and then see it go to St. Paul, Hennepin County or the southwest metro."
"We shouldn't have to wait our turn with our money."
Family: Married, two teenage daughters
Occupation: Owner of Monkman and Associates insurance company and the Woodbury Directory
Relevant experience: Army National Guard veteran, former president of Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, Chair of Southeast YMCA Board.