- What improvements to the city infrastructure, (e.g., transportation, internet access, public utilities, etc.) do you feel are the most urgent?
The most urgent infrastructure investment is in water and waste water. Meeting the sewer criteria for the EPA has been expensive but years past when it was needed. Replacing the remaining original delivery pipes is still a serious need.
We also need to be repairing our streets and re-striping. I hear this complaint almost daily and have observed many streets where it is difficult to tell where lines were. Along with street repair is repair and installation of sidewalks.
Transportation might well be third. We would do well to find a middle ground between commercial taxis and the book-it-way-ahead public transit. There may not be an immediate solution but it would be a great think-project for city planning and public administration students at surrounding colleges and universities. Self-driving cars may soon fill the need for public transportation for communities like ours where full bus service is financially out of reach.
Internet access for whom? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could provide free wi-fi or fiber optic cable for all those households where children are using the new tablets? And if we could do that we could probably extend it to most of the city's homes and businesses. It is an expensive vision so we need to be looking for grant opportunities.
- What fiscal challenges (e.g., declining Hall Tax revenue, housing) do you anticipate in the next few years, and what can be done to compensate?
The only revenue loss I know of is the progressive reduction of the Hall Tax. I believe that the recession is receding and that building in homes, commerce, and industry is following a natural cycle of regrowth. There are proposals for over 50 new homes in the works. We would need to search the utility database for a clearer indication but it appears to me that home sales have picked up in the city and that more work is being done to renew and remodel heritage homes which will increase their appraisals. There are new commercial locations being built and new industries beginning to arrive.
The largest fiscal challenge we face is the one we have had for years. Despite the hard work of the planning commission and the community development department, we don't have a process for requiring an evaluation of the Return on Investment (ROI) for most of the projects in which the city invests. We also would be wise to create a process for evaluating the success of those investments after the fact. We could use as a model the ROI calculations for the Illinois Avenue tif.
The other large challenge is that of paying down the city's debt. We would be wise to forestall any additional debt that is not absolutely necessary until we have significantly reduced the current debt. Only by having a low debt service cost can a city be prepared for financial emergencies.
- What prompted you to seek a seat on the City Council?
I am still concerned about making city government more accessible to the citi-zens. I look to find ways to encourage people of every age to be more involved with their government and more able to advise their council about needs and preferences. The term I served before was one of the most satisfying periods of my work life. Best dollar an hour job I've every had.
- What unique experience/qualifications would you bring to this office if elected?