What is your position on the expansion of the convention center? If you are supportive, how do think it should be structured and funded?
The Convention Center should be expanded, as part of a comprehensive approach to downtown redevelopment, including the Trades District and Switchyard Park. The Convention Center functions as a community center as well--and expansion will increase its value to our not-for-profit and arts groups.
Expansion needs to be context-sensitive and well-integrated into the downtown area. It should support vibrant, B-line-fronted, neighborhood development. The City of Bloomington should assume control of the Convention Center--it is an anchor downtown institution, well-suited for close oversight by the City. Funding should include a mixture of private investment and tourist taxes, as well as CRED/TIF funding for infrastructure. At present this is an underutilized asset, which holds great promise for contributing to the quality of life in the community.
Looking ahead, the county may experience ongoing fiscal pressures due to limited revenue sources. What plans do you have to raise revenues and for addressing the demand of service delivery?
The opportunities for revenue increase are strictly controlled by the state.
I have supported targeted taxes, such as the Juvenile County Option Income Tax that has enabled effective youth services in the community.
I have worked on a state committee to ensure stable funding for 911 dispatch, resulting in legislation that makes the public safety income tax (LOIT) more effective for local governments. I support a limited public safety LOIT to ensure sustainable funding of 911 dispatch.
We will continue to aggressively pursue grants and cost sharing for infrastructure funding. The new Local Road and Bridge Grant program (just created by the legislature) provides us with opportunity to leverage money in our Rainy Day Fund, and address underfunded but vital infrastructure projects, like Sample Road.
What is the single most significant issue you see facing Monroe County in the coming term and what is your specific plan to address that issue, both in terms of budget and policy proposals?
Maintaining and growing wages in Monroe County. This is critical both in the operations and budget of county government (income tax plays an ever-increasing role in our budget) and in the well-being of the community.
My plans are to continue what I’ve been working on for the past 8 years on Council. I will continue to:
Fund investments in infrastructure, like the west side transportation project
Advocate for the redevelopment of former contaminated brownfields to create manufacturing jobs for Monroe County residents
Support incentives to grow strong businesses, create, and sustain hundreds of good jobs in manufacturing, logistics, and life sciences
Continue to champion investments in quality of life amenities that make the area attractive both for business and existing residents, like trails and parks
In recent years, the county has been under scrutiny about financial records. How will you ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility within county operations?
Issues with county financial records have forced the council to become much better educated about the details of county financial operations -- probably much more so than other county councils in the state.
I have always believed that transparency means nothing without education. It is easy to bury information in plain sight when other elected officials and the public don’t understand processes and financial details. Thus I have worked hard to educate the community on the complex processes of local government finance, by:
Writing a blog on local government finance (http://in53.wordpress.com), that has been cited by the media and members of all political parties in Monroe County
Serving on the Chamber’s fiscal policy and legislative committees
Frequently presenting to community groups on local government finance
How do you think the County can work with the City to better serve business and residents?
We must keep the channels of communication open between all local units of government. We have a new Mayor of Bloomington; this represents an opportunity to start regular dialogues about issues of mutual interest. These steps have already begun, and should be continued and expanded.
More specifically, the City and County can work together by:
Cooperating on joint efforts, such as our partnership to support the Indiana small Business Development Center, joint fueling opportunities, etc.
Coordinating planning and zoning, particularly in the urbanizing area, to ensure consistency of planning and to ensure that any annexation is done to the benefit of residents
Serving together on the MPO policy board to ensure our community makes its investments in transportation infrastructure wisely and effectively