Chamber of Commerce Questionnaire: Amanda Barge

What is your position on the expansion of the convention center? If you are supportive, how do think it should be structured and funded?

As your Commissioner, I would review how our current Convention Center is performing and at regional trends and similar cities who have expanded their centers and what the projections and outcomes were. There are groups who feel strongly that our current Convention Center is not large enough and I will have conversations with them.

Using a Food and Beverage Tax to pay for the $68.3 million expansion seems to place undue strain on those that live in the county and the benefits to this tax do not seem to outweigh the costs. I support looking at other funding efforts, like the Inkeeper Tax, to partially support the expansion.

The impacts of I-69 will need to be considered and planned for accordingly in order to address expected growth and connectivity for Westside businesses. What recommendations would you make to improve Westside connectivity?

Any changes in connectivity in our roadways must take into account public safety, traffic congestion, quality of life, and what existing infrastructure is already in place. It is important in all phases of INDOT projects that residents and businesses feel heard. As your Commissioner, I'll make sure we have the best staff managing our 714.8 miles of roads and hold frequent public meetings to address questions and concerns.  As the only candidate in this race who attends Commissioner Staff Time, I am ready on Day One to tackle our connectivity challenges! 

The ordinances outlining land use outside of the Monroe County Urbanizing Area and Designated Communities did not address businesses. How do you/would you ensure that the needs of businesses are considered during the ordinance development process?

The future of Monroe County depends on residents, businesses and elected officials working together to ensure sensible planning. As a downtown small business owner, I understand the importance of making sure we are all heard.

I’m running for Commissioner because I believe our government can do a better job bringing people together and making sure all stakeholders have the opportunity to be heard. 

I support using social media, frequent public meetings, and would visit businesses to talk to owners about planning issues.

We have noticed the county has trouble finding residents willing to fill vacancies on county boards and commissions. If there is a vacancy on the board or commission, how do you recruit and attract interested residents and how will you ensure the most qualified person is selected for the position? 

 

As a member of a county commission, I know that we can do better filling these vacancies!

My Plan:

-Host a “Boards and Commissions Day” and invite schools, residents, professional organizations, and businesses to learn about what each board does.

-Appoint a “Point Person” to each board to handle outreach and communication with Council and Commissioners.

-Use social media to advertise vacancies.

-Collaborate with the city: work as a team to fill vacancies on both the city and county boards and commissions.

-Members of boards should be sitting in on interviews so the process is transparent.

In recent years, the county has been under scrutiny about financial records. How will you ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility within county operations?

I have executive experience in business as a small business owner – one that has been successful with a 100%  payment record from my clients, a rarity in almost any business! I’ve mentored several other therapists in creating and operating their own sole practices. To this date all have been successful.

-I recommend bringing in outside expertise to evaluate the financial management system of the county. All results of the assessment would be made public.

-I support posting all county spending on a quarterly basis online at the County Website. 

-I would lead by example with transparent governing. 

How do you think the County can work with the City to better serve business and residents? 

I view the City-County relationship as a partnership, not as adversaries. We have a health crisis. The health of our county was downgraded for the second year in a row. As Commissioner, the first step I would take would be to get city and county stakeholders together to make a plan for improvement.

We can also coordinate more on boards and commissions. As the executives of the county, the Commissioners set the tone and there is nothing we can’t accomplish with the right kind of leadership! I have a record of bringing people together for a common cause and will bring those skills to work alongside the city.

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