Candidate for Bloomington mayor
Family: Wife Karen and three (grown) children, Matthew and Tera Green, Jeffrey Connolly
The current managed competition policy being considered by the city council is just a guideline. It doesn’t change what the city will, or can do with regard to outsourcing. The focus of the city should be first and foremost, providing quality services at a low cost to taxpayers. There are two main elements to consider when outsourcing city services. First we must ensure that existing employees have job security. With or without outsourcing, we can utilize their talents in other areas of service to the community. Second, we must be sure that we have the ability to maintain quality services provided by outside contractors. Competition is good for business. If we consider outsourcing a service, we want to keep the city active in that service also. Many cities use multiple contractors. By keeping the city as an optional service provider, we maintain the supporting capital equipment while forcing contractors to provide the quality necessary to compete. This doesn’t have to be an “either/or” option.
Downtown has an aging infrastructure that needs to be addressed. Bloomington citizens, downtown residents and businesses, and city leaders have conflicting visions. Do we want a quaint historical district, or do we want a downtown that thrives economically? I would like to see a balance of both. If we want downtown to be the center of our city, we must focus on retail success. Failure to use successful business models for growth will result in wasted investments. If the city does not have a solid plan for downtown, private investment will not come. As a whole, the citizens either need to embrace a vibrant downtown economy supported by private investors, or else we should limit our investment to sewer and road upgrades and let downtown control their own destiny.
The city’s prior vision of making downtown an entertainment hub for all Bloomington residents was unsuccessful. We need to reexamine our commitment to city investment as an entertainment provider. The concentration of bars, which mostly cater to college students in downtown Bloomington, is the result of central planning by the city council, administration and the liquor commission. We should not continue this experiment. The moratorium on liquor licenses is a stopgap measure and we need an effective plan to move forward. I am in support of initiating flexible liquor licensing. This would allow different businesses to blend into the existing scene, alleviating the negative results. I would have supported the Jazz bar and the Six Strings initiatives. We cannot take an “all or nothing” approach, or let narrow interests limit the conversation.
I would like Bloomington to be defined by its citizens. If we refocus our efforts on the city’s basic mission of providing quality city services and infrastructure, our people will move the city toward prosperity, innovation and business success. Quality of life should be defined by our citizens doing what they choose to do, not forcing them to underwrite what city hall thinks our priorities should be. If there is one legacy I would like to leave, it is that we lowered taxes, and eliminated the debt we passed on to our children. I want to leave Bloomington a better place for future generations.<
First, I will never say never. But tax incentives are an admission by the city that taxes hurt businesses. If higher taxes were good for business, we would keep them high for new companies. If, as I believe, higher taxes hurt businesses, then they should be reduced for existing businesses first. Also, by reducing taxes on our citizens, we could pump millions of dollars into our economy.
Instead, we keep raising taxes on those that live and work locally, then offer incentives to out of town businesses. Since there is a strong pressure by local development groups and city leaders to provide incentives instead of keeping taxes low, I will consider each instance separately. But it seems that every business looking to locate here has a hand out for special consideration. I prefer to build the economy from the bottom up, providing incentives to live and spend here for our citizens and businesses first.
The answers are provided yearly by an actuarial report delivered to the city council. Every year the actuary tells the council the best funding levels, and every year the council ignores the recommendations. It would be wise to take the advice given. That would mean contributing $8 million to police and fire pensions this year. We may sometimes get too caught up in percentages, but it is the way we as citizens can best understand where we stand. We currently have no problem meeting our yearly payouts. But when we fail to adequately fund the pensions, we force future councils and future generations to pay for today’s promises. I want to see the pensions funded at a minimum of 80%.
Many private pensions are funded at 100% or more. This avoids relying on market investment returns which, we have recently seen, can be unreliable.