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Oakdale mayor holds city budget forum | Business

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Oakdale mayor holds city budget forum
Oakdale mayor holds city budget forum

OAKDALE - Newly-elected mayor Pat Paul held a public forum Monday evening at the Oakdale Community Center, to discuss the city's budget and improvements within the city. Though numerous topics were touched on, the outstanding issues were 1) city management, 2) tourism and new businesses, 3) volunteers and 4) making Oakdale a destination city.

About 40 residents  and volunteers showed up to give their input, ideas and voice their concerns to the mayor and councilmembers. After breaking out into sub-groups to highlight specific ways the city could improve its revenue, the group gathered together to hash out common issues.

"If we're the 'cowboy capitol' what are we going to do to capitalize on that title," said Paul. "We also want to take advantage of our river, train and eventually a state-of-the-art performing arts center."

Paul said with a lack of surplus funds in the city's budget, improvements to the city would rely heavily on the work of volunteers. Dominant issues discussed in the meeting included bringing more businesses and retail stores, such as REI, Trader Joe's and GAP, to the east end of town. Also, ideas like consolidating city services, longer animal shelter hours, transparency in city leaders' salaries, a swifter volunteer application process and even selling the famous Hershey's visitor center or renting it out to gain revenue, were brought up.

"There needs to be some sort of financial bridge to help our city until our economic development kicks in," said resident Ron Holcombe.

Volunteer Bob H. urged "We've all got to think of ways to bring money to the city. If you're not apart of the solution, you're still apart of the problem."

The mayor addressed the crowd, telling them changes wouldn't be made overnight, but that action would indeed be taken on issues that everyone could agree upon and the city could afford.

A follow-up community action meeting was scheduled for Monday, Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Oakdale Community Center, 110 South 2nd Avenue.