Shoreview’s Jeanne Haapala receives LMC’s Leadership Award


Shoreview’s Finance Director Jeanne Haapala (second from right) receiving the League of Minnesota Cities’ 2013 Leadership Award. The award ceremony was held at the LMC’s annual conference in St. Paul’s River Centre on Thursday, June 20. Pictured from left: 2013-14 LMC First Vice President Dave Osberg, 2013-14 LMC President Shaunna Johnson, Jeanne Haapala, and 2012-13 LMC President Betsy Hodges. (submitted photo)

Shoreview’s Finance Director Jeanne Haapala has received the prestigious League of Minnesota Cities’ (LMC) Leadership Award. Haapala accepted the award at the LMC annual conference at the St. Paul River Centre on Thursday, June 20.

“It’s a pretty amazing honor,” Haapala said. “I think recognition by your peers and professional associates is about as good as it gets.”

The LMC recognizes just one individual each year to receive the Leadership Award.

This honor recognizes appointed officials who have made significant contributions to Minnesota city government and is considered one of the LMC’s highest individual honors.

Some key criteria used by judges when selecting a candidate include:

Service above and beyond what is required by the nominee’s position.

Contributions to improved municipal government in national, state, county, municipal, professional or other public organizations or agencies.

Significant improvements in Minnesota cities attributable to the nominee’s service, and the nominee’s success in raising the prestige of city government service.

“Jeanne was cited for creating a lot of reports and financial tools as a model for city financial director’s around the state,” LMC Publications Manager Claudia Hoffacker said.

Haapala has worked in local government for 37 years and has been the city’s finance director since 1988.

Some of the financial planning tools she has developed over the years include Shoreview’s Comprehensive Infrastructure Replacement Plan and Five Year Operating Plan.

Shoreview’s Mayor Sandy Martin said the Comprehensive Infrastructure Replacement Plan identifies everything the city owns that will need repairs in the future.

The plan allows the city to identify where funds will come from to replace or repair items in that inventory -- a new roof on the city’s community center, for example.

“She’s a really important part of our staff,” Martin said. “Her long-range financial programs have really helped us get that AAA bond rating. It shows that you’re a well planned city and they look at the financial policies and strength of the staff and how you’re able to deal with a crisis.”

Martin said she believes one of Haapala’s most remarkable qualities is her ability to explain complex topics.

“She has this unique and wonderful ability to explain the city’s complicated tax procedures to people and explain to them how they are affected,” the mayor said. “A lot of people say she’s the best in the business.”

Haapala even received a congratulatory letter from U.S. Sen. Al Franken last week for receiving the award. Franken thanked her for her hard work and dedication and for “serving as a sterling example to the city.”

Maintaining through sluggish financial times can be challenging, when the cost of services continue to rise while revenues diminish.

She cited the importance of having solid long-term financial strategies in place and sticking to those strategies.

“Financial planning is a balancing act between revenues and expenses. There is constant tension,” she said. “We’ve worked really hard to stay competitive and it’s been incredibly fun to work with helping the city get to this place … that long arc of progress. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”

She added that she has been lucky to have worked with amazing staff and city council members over the years, who understand the value of services.

“I’m very proud of her and the recognition she has brought to our city,” Martin said.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at  jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

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