Age: Not available.
Occupation: Owns and operates New Creations Digital Art Studio.
Past Offices Held: Two terms on Marietta City Council.
1. Commissioners have been asked to devote more of the one percent sales tax funds to road and bridge maintenance. Should more money be given for this purpose?
In a word .. YES. This 1 percent additional sales tax was initiated in, I believe 1984 perhaps '85. When this tax was first introduced, it was predicated on the clear understanding and intent that it would be used to improve bridges and roads in Washington County and within the 22 individual townships. During the intervening 25 years, little by little with each annual budget, more and more of this money was diverted from its intended purpose. In order to shore up shortfalls in other parts of the general budget, it was allocated elsewhere. Slowly, over time the money has been redirected to the extent that now, less than 15 percent goes to the purpose for which the taxpayers were agreeable. This was largely done without taxpayer knowledge or consent. We must now, carefully and prudently begin to restore this money to its intended use.
2. What's the best way to move forward with the development of adequate sewage treatment facilities in the county without burdening homeowners or violating their rights?
The best way to move forward is to NOT force people into a sewer system while they have a working, compliant system in place. Clearly, we are not in a position to oppose the OEPA when under their authority. We must devise a long range plan for installing sewer systems when desired by the residents. This plan should include how to pay for the capital expenditure without adding it to the monthly rate of ALL the users. The current plan will cause rates to necessarily skyrocket in order to pay for new systems. Furthermore, this plan must provide for the exclusion of homeowners with working systems. That should exclude systems that have effluent which is in compliance with environmental standards. There is nothing wrong with the county providing service if those receiving the service desire it and are willing to pay for it.
3. What steps need to be taken to protect the area during the oil and gas boom and to ensure the best economic benefit? What should the commissioners' role in this be?
The necessary steps are already provided. First and foremost, we must protect public property from extraordinary damage. This is done through the Road Use and Maintenance Agreements.
These are important documents which are intended to create an understanding between the county engineer and the drilling and service companies. They detail what road improvements will be made. How roads will be repaired. How quickly they will be repaired. When they can be closed, etc. These agreements also carry with them, in most cases, a bond on the part of the company in order to insure compliance. We need to make sure these agreements are fair...Not burdensome...not prohibitive. The environmental and safety guidelines are covered elsewhere by the OEPA, ODNR, OSHEA and numerous other agencies. As commissioners, we need to be alert to any hindrances which prevent companies from investing here, and also make sure our first responders are trained and prepared to handle emergencies that inevitably happen with any industrial venture.
This is one of the greatest opportunities for economic development to come along in Washington County in many years. These exploration companies are not our adversaries and we must not make them our adversaries. All of this also helps local government. More people working and drawing higher wages means more income tax collection for Marietta City. Higher property value means more property tax collected...which is used to finance county and township services like safety and first responder services. And also our schools which struggle to make their budgets work in a recessionary economy. Also sales tax collections go up as people spend more money. When people make more money, they have more disposable income to spend. When they spend more, not only does government get a boost from sales tax, but also local businesses are the recipient of most of the money spent. Local stores, local restaurants, local car dealers, motorcycles, RV's etc. This is truly a good example of the old saying.. A rising tide lifts all the boats.
Having said all that, I would be remiss if I didn't point out the most important function of government is to make sure it is all done safely. We must ensure the safety of people, the safety of our environment, our water supply, and also protect the rights of property owners.