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Candidates respond to questions — Marietta City Council — At Large

October 27, 2009
Marietta Times
Marietta City Council — At Large
1. What’s one thing you would change about the way the current council does business?
2. What would you bring to the table as a member of council?
3. According to the city auditor’s annual financial forecast, if current trends continue, by the end of 2010 Marietta’s general fund cash balance is expected to go into the red by more than $444,000, and a year later the balance could see a gap of $2.3 million. What could be done to alleviate that situation?
4. As of Oct. 1, the current council had considered more than 300 ordinances and 137 resolutions. Is this too much legislation or just a necessary part of doing city business?
5. More than $400,000 in revenue is generated annually through third party billing for city fire and rescue runs. Currently that money goes into the general fund and a portion to help support the city’s two outlying fire stations on Harmar Hill and Glendale Road. Should some of those funds also be used to hire more firefighters?
 
Harley Noland
Age: 57.
Occupation: Owner, Levee House Cafe, Trolley Tours Inc. and Design Services.
Family: Parents, Ethel May and Lloyd Noland; sisters, Cara, Mitten and Mariam; brother, Gifford.
Previous offices held/sought: At large council member, one term.
 
1. I propose that council be more proactive instead of reactive on important issues. There needs to be more long-range planning and less “emergency” legislation. This would give the public a better chance to express their opinions on issues important to all of Marietta.

2. I bring my 30 years of participation in downtown business activities. As a small business owner, I understand meeting payrolls, being flexible with changing economic conditions and solving problems in creative ways. I also bring my experience from years of volunteering, including two years in the Peace Corps. These varied public service experiences have taught me how to accomplish goals with diverse groups of people. Further, I bring my education in architecture and urban design, which guides me in developing plans for the city’s future, and I bring my experience as a current member of City Council and chairman of (exceeded limit).

3. The city must continue to find ways to create efficiencies. More importantly, city government must help expand Marietta’s economic base by increasing population and revitalizing our business and industrial base. Yearly budget and revenue reductions pave a road to less city services and eventually a lower quality of life for our citizens. Mariettans expect and deserve a high level of city services. Our development and engineering departments do a fantastic job securing grants that help with the budget shortfalls and enable the completion of many projects in our great city, but we cannot continue to rely so heavily on these (exceeded limit).

4. 300 ordinances and 137 resolutions are what were needed to operate city government in these extraordinary times. In addition to regular city business, this year we successfully passed legislation to secure grants from stimulus money, as well as numerous other grants for projects totaling more than $8 million. Also, with very tight budgeting, there is an increased need to adjust monies amongst city accounts. Each adjustment requires legislation.

5. Quality police and fire protection is essential to the future of Marietta. I support increasing the number of police and fire personnel, but at this time of very tight budgets, it is currently not feasible. By depositing the third-party billing funds into the general fund, the revenues are available to all city departments. The city is then able to meet financial obligations when and where they occur. As we find ways to increase the city’s revenues and find further efficiencies, I hope we can add both police officers and firefighters.
 
Josh Schlicher
Age: 32.
Occupation: Owner, Schlicher Construction and Development LLC.
Family: Single
Previous offices held/sought: Marietta Traffic Commission member since 2005.
 
1. I would look at the overall picture of the city for all possible improvements. I feel we need to do more to address the city-wide issues, issues that increase the health, happiness, safety and prosperity of all citizens. My biggest concern is our water and wastewater systems. The city has old systems that will be very expensive to replace. I would do more to study and address all long-term projects. I would like to develop a comprehensive plan to identify and prioritize them.

2. If elected, I would be a new face on council. I would contribute new ideas and bring a new kind of thinking to city government. We need bold, innovative ideas and an energetic leader who will make the tough decisions necessary to get things done. I also want to make decisions that are in the city’s and citizens’ best interest. I am a lifelong resident. I have a good overall knowledge of the city. I have spoken to department heads and toured the water and wastewater plants. I have taken the time to familiarize myself with the workings on the (exceeded limit).

3. The general fund’s main source of revenue is the 1.7 percent income tax. In order to increase that funding source, we have to look at a new approach to increase our revenues. This can be new business, increased business activity, more employees added, any possible source that could be a contributor. The main expense to the general fund is salaries and benefits. We need to increase our efficiencies across the city and in every department. We must redefine our city departments, and they must evolve into robust organizations.

4. I believe if council is improving or changing legislation or introducing new legislation that is positive to the city and all citizens, then the number is acceptable.

5. I would favor improving our equipment and our level of current services offered by the fire department. The budget also dictates our ability to add firefighters. I would like to explore the possibility of adding dedicated and trained volunteer firefighters to serve as auxiliary firefighters. They would respond to medium- and large-scale emergencies and supplement our current staff. Fortunately, Marietta does not have many large-scale emergencies. By using auxiliary firefighters, we could solve our response time issue with the department for large emergencies.
 
Debbie Scott
Age: 53.
Occupation: Marketing coordinator with Kardex USA Inc.
Family: Two sons, five grandchildren.
Previous offices held/sought: None.
 
1. City Council is the ruling body for the City of Marietta. The one thing I would change is let them do their job. There are some decisions that would be better left to the citizens of Marietta to decide. It is not always necessary to adopt ordinances or to forward issues to the Planning Commission. The process is too slow.

2. As a member of City Council, I would bring bipartisanship. My 30-plus years of business experience will enable me to work with my fellow council members to get things accomplished. My customer service experience and organizational skills will be a good contribution.

3. I was alarmed by the city auditor’s annual financial forecast. Marietta’s general cash balance could go into the red by more than $444,000 by the end of 2010? I think each department should re-evaluate personnel and spending, to see if they could make reductions or changes in the spending. That would be a place to start. Businesses all across this country have had to reduce staff and make cuts to try to stay in business.

4. I believe the 300 ordinances and the 137 resolutions were too much legislation, but with the procedures and zoning codes set the way they are, council probably didn’t have a choice. In order to get projects completed, I am sure they wrote the ordinances and resolutions that were necessary.

5. We need to keep the fire stations fully staffed. If it is possible to use some of the general fund to hire more firefighters, then I think it is a good idea. I wouldn’t commit to that until I had a chance to see what portion is available. If there is only enough money to support the fire stations, then we would have to find another way to secure the funds to hire more firefighters.
 
Kathy Shively
Age: 57.
Occupation: Retired from UPS after 30 years.
Family: Husband, Larry; daughter, Katie; son-in-law, Eric Brown; grandchildren, Taylor and Baylee.
Previous offices held/sought: At large council member for 12 years, served as council president for four years, ran for mayor in 2003.
 
1. I feel that some legislation is brought forward and readings are suspended without proper consideration or without public comment. Citizens need to have the opportunity to voice their opinion, and I will try to see that they can do that.

2. Institutional knowledge. After serving 16 years on council, I have gained a wealth of knowledge about city government. Knowing what to do, where to go, who to see to help a constituent or to bring about legislation is very important. With my experience and time, I can continue to make informed decisions for the betterment of our city.

3. We need to use all tools available to keep our finances in the black: Financial forecasting, the Maximus study, past spending history, cost-saving methods such as keeping overtime down, using our development department differently. Whatever it takes, we need to do it.

4. There have been quite a few pieces of legislation done to correct legislation that was just passed at our last meeting because it was rushed through. If proper time for consideration and proper information had been given prior to the original legislation, there wouldn’t be a need for these re-dos.

5. We are currently spending $225,000 of the third-party billing to supplement the fire levy fund, which can only be used for the outlying stations. The main station and all other fire department needs are covered by the general fund. The budget for the fire department this year was $2,098,397. With the current financial forecast, I do not feel that now is the time to be adding personnel.
 
Andy Thompson
Age: 46.
Occupation: Publisher, Bird Watcher’s Digest.
Family: Wife, Jade; children, Annalea, Nat and Gus.
Previous offices held/sought: At large councilman since 2006.
 
1. What would I change about the way the current council does business? I’d like to have fewer meetings if possible, though I realize that if you’re going to accomplish things, you need to put in the required time. Dealing with the court issue in particular consumed a great deal of our early term.

2. What I bring to the table is a small business mentality. I’m the publisher at BWD, and in that capacity oversee finances, payroll and the daily operations of a magazine in a very tough economy. As much as possible we need to run the city in a businesslike fashion.

3. Projections on deficits are always subject to change. We are working daily to find savings and to improve the efficiency of the services we offer as a city. There are more savings to be found, and we will continue to find and implement them once they’re identified. We also can allocate costs to our enterprise funds (water and sewer) and street fund to compensate the general fund for services it provides.

4. Too many ordinances and/or resolutions? We strive to not waste taxpayer time or pass meaningless legislation the way Congress often does. On the other hand, I think our track record is one of substantial progress and that requires legislative action in most cases.

5. Funds generated by third-party billing are divided between the levy stations and the general fund and go to pay for the costs associated with those stations. It’s an appropriate way to channel that revenue, rather than having all of the revenue go to the general fund, which was the policy in the past. At present, we’re anticipating financial challenges due to the economic downturn. We await guidance from the administration, but at this time I can’t commit to additional hiring without updated budget projections from the auditor and assistant safety service director.
 
 
 

 

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