Lu Ann Hecht has been working for the city of River Falls for 29 years. She’s been described as dedicated, dependable, and honest.
Assistant City Administrator Julie Bergstrom said Hecht has been “awesome” to work with.
“She’s a very good resource for information too, for staff people and the community,” Bergstrom said.
Now, Hecht said, it’s time for her to take a step back.
She’s announcing her retirement now, though she won’t officially retire until December.
Once she does retire, Hecht said she plans to enjoy being at home, and spending time with family.
“I don’t have any big plans,” she said “Just to relax and enjoy family.”
Hecht began her city career 29 years ago working in the utility department.
“The city clerk retired, so then another city employee moved into that position, and she could appoint a deputy clerk,” Hecht said. “She asked me if I was interested and I was.”
That was how she began working in the clerk’s office in 1989. She became city clerk in 2008.
The clerk’s office has a lot of responsibilities, including managing elections, licensing, and helping manage the tax levy.
Elections are a huge part of the clerk’s job, Hecht said. And over the years, she’s seen many changes.
“One of the big changes was that we had to go to the ADA (electronic) voting machines,” Hecht said, “That was in 2003, and we actually got a federal grant to buy those machines.”
A law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls is another new change.
The way voters are tracked has changed too, Hecht said.
“Years ago, it was a piece of paper with your name on it,” Hecht said. “Every time someone voted, you actually had to stamp it by hand, and they were in these great big huge books.”
Now, a binder full of bar codes is used. Hecht said poll workers can scan a bar code -- there’s one for each voter -- to automatically update the system with who has voted.
Preparing for, and organizing, elections and poll workers, is a big part of Hecht’s job. She said it takes months to prepare for an election.
She’s also noticed a few patterns in voter turnout.
“We have a bigger turnout when the election is more contentious,” Hecht said. She said the city’s expecting a big turnout for the November 2016 presidential election.
Because so many voters are expected, Hecht said the city is looking for people who can sign up to be poll workers. Poll workers are trained, and paid, to help city staff run the polls on election days.
Licensing is another big part of Hecht’s job.
Those include liquor licenses, dog licenses, weights and measures licenses. Direct seller,rs christmas trees, taxi licenses.
Between licenses, and elections, Hecht said, the clerk’s office stays busy.
The clerk's office also puts together the city council’s agenda packet before each meeting. Heht also signs all the official documents for the city. She takes care of things like vehicle insurance.
“You never know what’s going to come across the desk,” Hecht said.
The clerk’s office also helps with the tax levy, and works with the board of review and property assessments.
“So we get a lot of questions on, ‘Why are my taxes so high?’,” Hecht said. “People always want to know that.”
She said property taxes are determined by the assessed value of the property.
Though she keeps very busy, Hecht said she’s stayed in her job so long for a reason.
“I like the challenges of the work,” Hecht said. “I like working with the public. I like the elections. I like licensing. I like the people I work with, and it’s really close to my house.
I could stay in River Falls and when my kid were growing up, it was very convenient.”
The best part of her job, Hecht said, comes down to one thing:
“I like helping people, she said.”
Hecht moved to River Falls nearly three decades ago. She and her husband Tom raised five children here, daughters Terri and Amy, and sons Vince, Tony and Nick.
“We love River falls. It’s been nice to see all the changes and all the improvements and our very first impression was everybody kept their stuff nice,” Hecht said.
The city clerk’s position was posted this week on the city website (rfcity.org).
“We hope for a lot of applicants for the position,” Bergstrom said. “It’s essential to a lot of very important functions of the city.”
For the complete story, see the Aug. 11 print issue of the River Falls Journal.