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City Council at-large

October 29, 2011
The Marietta Times

Questions:

1. What city projects would you like to see completed, stopped or started in the next several years? Why?

2. What part do you think you can play in helping to balance Marietta's budget? What abilities or ideas would you contribute?

3.The renovation of the armory continues to be a divisive issue in the city. How would you like to see the project move forward and what should your role be?

Dianne Crandall

Age: 55

Occupation:?Previously a journalist, mortgage banker, circulation staff member for the Washington County Public Library

Offices held: No past government offices held

1. I would like to see the armory finished because I do believe it would be an asset to Marietta. The plan to have the River Trail bike path extend all the way to Walmart is a great idea. Unfortunately even with grant monies we would have to come up with additional funding. At this time I would not complete it due to pressing needs in other areas of the City. As I have gone door to door I have noticed that a lot of the alleys are in deplorable condition. I would lilke to have all the alleys in good repair but with 85 percent of the city budget going for salaries and benefits, it will be difficult to make the remaining 15 percent cover all the necessities that are needed. I would though like to see an assessment of our alleys and determine a priority of which ones should be repaired first.

2. Marietta has a balanced budget law and so we can not spend more then we take in, hence the problems of having to cut department budgets to keep the books balanced. One of the largest costs is overtime at the fire department, it costs the taxpayers tens upon tens of thousand dollars every year. I would look into the possibility to see if it would be feasibly to hire substitute firemen. Now I do realize some of our firemen most likely depend on overtime for additional income but if it comes down to possibly cut other services, laying off safety services personnel or limiting overtime, I'd have to come down on the side of cutting overtime costs. If we were faced with having to cut city employees to maintain a balanced budget, the police and fire departments would be the very last place I would look. A way to boost our tax base and enhance our bottom line, be able to meet the needs of our city and still balance the budget is to make sure that our business ordinances are clear and reasonable so that businesses want to come here and more importantly stay here. I would want a complete review of the laws that govern businesses in order to simplify and streamline the process of doing business in Marietta. By adding or keeping businesses we receive taxes not only from the businesses themselves but from the employees hired.

3. As I have gone door to door the inability of the current and past administrations to finish the job is a frequent topic of conversation. There is a high level of frustration concerning that we have lost an enormous amount of grant monies due to the fact that the mayor has not come up with the needed business plan to attach to the grants. Voters have wanted to know how much in man hours has been wasted writing useless grants when the required business plan was not available to send with the requests? How much grant money has expired because the business plan wasn't finished? How much harder will it be to get future grants due to the economy to help finish the job? And interestingly enough, which mayoral candidate I believe would be most likely to finish the armory as efficiently as possible? I disagree with Mayor Mullen's decision, accompanied by Councilman At Large Mr. Noland, to meet with CVB Executive Director Jeri Knowlton on October 6 and request that CVB take over and do the business plan for the armory. That is not the Convention and Visitors Bureau main responsibility and they certainly should not be responsible for doing the mayor's job for him. I would like the armory issue to move forward by having a Mayor who is truly committed to finishing it, who presents City Council with an actual viable business plan and having a City Council that would support it. I was on the first committee that was formed to have the armory purchased and saved. It would be a privilege for me as a council member to be an active and enthusiastic participant in finishing the armory.

Michael Boersma

Age: 21

Address: 624 N. Seventh St. Marietta

Party: Independent

Occupation:?I work at the Town House as kitchen staff.

Offices held:?No past offices

1. I would like to see the Armory Square project and the River Trail bike path extension completed. I would also like to expand the Skate Park and Aquatic Center. I believe the Skate Park should include more than just one large bowl. I know many skaters would like to see rails and a larger flat paved area at the site. When it comes to the Aquatic Center, I know many people who would rather go to the pools in Devola, Williamstown, and St. Mary's as opposed to the Marietta Aquatic Center, and I know the lack of a deep end and/or a diving board is largely accountable for that.

2. I would work with the Auditor's office and the various city departments to find ways for our city government to work more efficiently and cost effectively. I know the Auditor's office itself runs on an antiquated system, so I believe if we first work to make sure that the people who are handling our money are working in the most efficient and cost effective way then it would not be too long before that efficiency permeates elsewhere in our government.

3. After 15 years of squabbling, I believe the armory project is finally on a good path with an achievable business plan. I hope to help see the project through to its completion.

Michael Mullen

Address: 206 Emerald St.

Party: Independent

Offices held:?Currently Mayor, previously Council member

1. There are many projects in progress that will continue in 2012 because they have been fully funded. One of the major infrastructure projects is the renovation of the Wastewater Treatment Plant. This facility has not had any significant upgrades in over 20 years, and is critical for compliance with EPA regulations and to ensure capacity for future growth and development. Construction is scheduled to begin this month and continue in 2012.

The second big project is Phase 3 of the RiverTrail, that is scheduled to begin construction next spring. This project will add almost one mile of shared use path and connect to a number of high traffic areas in the Norwood neighborhood. This project has a number of grant funders and the small percentage of Community Development Block Grant funds that constitute the city share have been appropriated.

The two major intersection projects that have been in the design process (Pike/Acme St. and 7th, Pike, and Greene Sts.) are not yet fully funded and additional public input is necessary before these projects can move forward.

With the Municipal Court relocation scheduled for mid-next year, approximately 3000 square feet will be vacated at City Hall. While no funds have been appropriated, the new administration and City Council will be determining the best use of space. It does offer opportunities for consolidations, modernization, and energy efficiency, but like all city projects, the real question is the availability of funds.

2. In my two terms as mayor, we have delivered eight consecutive balanced budgets. This has been increasingly more difficult with health care and energy costs skyrocketing. My administration recognized several years ago that we needed to re-think budgeting and operations. We've employed many austerity and efficiency measures to address the ever-tightening finances. These included the performance audit that I recommended and was subsequently ratified by city voters. Annual zero-based budgeting that requires every department to submit and justify all expenditures prior to having funds appropriated have been instituted. Also, departmental consolidations have helped make operations more efficient.

Additionally we've implemented inter-departmental staff sharing, with a good example being the current leaf pickup effort that brings employees from five different departments together so that we have two multi-person crews working together to vacuum up leaves as expediently as possible. We have also worked well with the City Auditor and Treasurer to make significant system upgrades on accounting and budgeting software and systems so that we have current financial information available on a real time basis.

Another way to stretch our finite resources is by aggressive grant writing. In the last two years alone we have paved $1.7 million worth of streets with grant funds. This is almost 12 times the paving that we do in a normal city budget. If elected to the Council at Large seat I will continue to work with the next administration to try to capture outside funding to support city services and operations.

In spite of an economy in recession, and shrinking state and federal resources, we have made municipal budgets work without cutting services or raising taxes. As I have done as Mayor, I will continue to do as Councilman At Large, working for efficient and effective government in our great city.

3. When I was elected Mayor in 2004, the Armory Fund was at $0. It is now at $3.3 million (none of these are city general fund dollars) and the FOTA (501c3 non-profit) has raised over $85,000 to help support the long-term sustainability of the project. I am just a small part of a big tent with a fabulous group of collaborative partners that include WASCO, Marietta-Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Washington-Morgan Community Action Program, CAPS, FOTA (Friends of the Armory), local Veterans groups, the Washington County Commissioners, and very aggressive grant writing from a dedicated staff in the City Development and Engineering departments.

We have great plans to restore the armory into a multi-use community center that will seat 300-400 people to host concerts, banquets, dances, artist and cultural activities, movies, conferences, festivals, and other special events in the heart of our historic downtown. The armory will also become a first class visitor and welcome center that will help to grow the multi-million dollar tourist economy in Washington County. The site will also be a transportation hub with public restrooms and access for CABL Bus lines and regional bus service that have already committed to the project. Finally, and perhaps most importantly we will preserve and renovate an iconic historic structure as a permanent legacy to the service of America's brave veterans. The armory will be a $3 million public asset that will not require funding from city taxpayers.

With council giving us the go-ahead to bid the project (bids are scheduled to open Dec. 6) we are almost to the finish line and we will bring this collaborative community effort to construction in early 2012.

Harley Noland

Age:?59

Address: 434 Bellevue St. Marietta

Party: Democrat

Occupation:?Architectural designer and owner of Trolley Tours, Inc.

Offices held:?Served two terms on Marietta Council at-large

1. There are two projects I would like to see completed in the near future. I expect to see the Armory Square Project completed and operating as a tourist information center as well as a centerpiece of downtown activities. This project is a vital step to develop the full potential of tourism in Marietta. It would draw both visitors and residents to the city center. The armory is an important part of Marietta's history, community development and tourism expansion.

The second project that I want to see completed is our mixed use pedestrian path. This path is enjoyed by thousands of people for its beautiful views and its health benefits.

A project I would like to see started is a comprehensive plan to redevelop the unused upper stories in the central business district. There exists tens of thousands of square feet of underutilized space in the upper floors that could house offices, lofts and studios. I realize that renovation of these spaces is not cheap. A marketing package of tax credits and incentives should be produced and distributed nationally along with the descriptions of the available spaces. The new inhabitants would create new economic activity and increase the city's tax base.

2. I currently am a member of the city's finance committee and have strived to control expenses while providing a high level of service to the citizens. I have combined departments when cost savings were possible, outsourced certain activities when that showed cost savings and even hired an additional city engineer to save costs over outsourcing some engineering services. I am not hesitant to make the hard decisions when it comes to the health of the city's finances. My experiences of operating my own businesses for 30 years, meeting payrolls, controlling expenses and always looking for efficiencies gives me the ability to contribute to the finance committee in a very positive way.

3. The renovation of the armory has been a test of faith, endurance and determination. The public voted their will, which was to save the armory. I have never wavered from the goal of making the armory a first class visitor's center and public hall. The plans are complete and approved by all agencies. Millions of dollars of grants have been secured and the updated business plan is nearly ready.

Denver Abicht

Age:?58

Address: 706 Cisler Drive, Marietta

Party: Democrat

Office:?Currently hold a Council at Large seat.

Occupation: I am now the Director of Servicing for Painters DC 53 now with seven reps that work for me and we serve 1,500 members.

Offices held:?No previous public offices.

1. One city project I would like to see get started is a project to do work on the 91 plus alleys in Marietta. I believe we need to use more of our streets funds to concentrate on fixing them. Each year we do two or three quick fix on the alleys. At this rate we will never get caught up on the deterioration that is going on with them. There are a lot of people in Marietta that use alleys to get to their property and businesses. I will continue to work with the streets committee and the engineers to come up with more funding to do more alleys.

2. As a City Councilman at Large I will continue to attend all finance committee meetings and work with other City Council members to make sure we keep the city's budget balanced. The new city council will have to continue their ways of responsible spending. As we are unsure of what the economy holds for us in the next two years we need to be ready to act on it. It is hard to make any promises on how we will handle the budget. But be assured we will work day by day to keep Marietta afloat.

3. We are moving in the right direction with the armory project. The majority of the people of Marietta would like to see this historical job get started. I will work hard to make sure this project stays moving in the right direction until its completion. I will keep the citizens of Marietta informed of all the aspects of the work, as the project moves along. All funds and organizations are in place to make the Armory work. One of the things I would like to see, when construction bids begins is local work for local workers. This needs to be a Marietta job done by the people of Marietta. I will do my best to make sure this happens.

Glen McCabe

Mr McCabe is also a candidate for Council at-large.

He did not submit responses for the Election Guide.

 
 
 

 

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