The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

April 24, 2014

County Commission candidates express views on issues

(Continued)

Thursday, April 24, 2014 — 1. I know and understand the responsibility required to serve as a county commissioner. I have the qualifications, knowledge, experience and commitment to serve. I have a business background and a record in volunteer efforts in service for our citizens of all ages. My commitment has been a lifetime of involvement in Stanly County, and I want to devote the time and energy for all our families, yours and mine. People who know me, understand how much Stanly County means to me.

2. Jobs, Education and Quality of Life.

I believe commissioners must work to assist municipalities in the best interest of our citizens. I understand how important it is to be ready and willing to support all our existing business. All businesses support our tax base, provide job opportunities, and also contribute to many efforts in our county. We need to improve and expand in our recruiting efforts. The reality is that educational opportunities for learning and skill training has to be offered for the development and advancement of our workforce. Our public school system and our local community college are the institutions that provide the tools for learning and readiness for our school students, for the unemployed, and for the employed to advance. Good jobs raise the standard of living. 

We need to understand the importance of the balance necessary between growth and preserving our natural resources and our farmlands. Agriculture is important for the future of Stanly County. Wes Morgan, Terry Blalock, John Pickler, Tony Lowder, Keith Hill, Charles Herlocker, Ronnie Burleson, Windell and Nelson Talley, members of the Dennis and Huneycutt families are some of our farming neighbors. They are a vital part of Stanly County.

3. Stanly County and the city of Albemarle, together investing in the effort to develop either one or two related brands is a joint marketing step in a positive direction.  Another step is the county's EDC Business Breakfast Series, which some of the commissioner candidates attended. Using this forum to provide information, having  department heads available to address any questions and concerns from businesses, should be helpful. 

We must continue to discuss other ways to develop job growth, to recruit new business, and to encourage entrepreneurs. With the assistance of the NC Dept. of Commerce, and the Charlotte Regional Partnership; hopefully businesses looking to relocate or expand will be encouraged by them to look at Stanly County.  Although we may have infrastructure drawbacks, we have many desirable strengths.

4. First, I need to share some questions I have.

I understand this additional revenue is needed for the 911 Communication System. It will be a recurring sales tax. I would want to know why using a portion of the county's fund balance is not an option. It is my understanding our total fund balance far exceeds the LGC’s requirement. Perhaps the present Board of Commissioners have committed some of the unrestricted fund balance for the purchase of the Oakboro Sewer Treatment Plant, broadband access, other plans or to pay debt service. The need for additional revenue and increasing the sales tax rate may be necessary.

The increase would apply to everyone who buys goods here; our local residents, visitors, and even those traveling through our county. I believe the county manager mentioned that without the sales tax increase, a property tax increase could be considered to raise revenue. Many people would escape paying a property tax rate increase because they don’t own any real property. In my opinion, that would be an unfair burden to property owners. 

I encourage all voters to decide in their best interest to either vote for or against the referendum.

5. First, I would review the budget to understand funding for each department. Secondly, I would try to determine if increases were “need” based, mandated, or customary budget requests for increases, and at what percentage rate are the proposed increases. Nearly $45 million of the $55 million budget is mandated.

Are there programs or services that matching funds have been exhausted or expired, but now funding is a recurring expense for the county’s funding alone? If there are any programs or services which are not productive or no longer beneficial; then these expenses should be removed from funding. I would look again and again for ways to reduce expenses without sacrificing the needed services. 

6. I have no specific concerns. I do not know the current debt service, what federal or state grants are available for any proposed projects which presently have the board’s commitment, or the terms of any available financing for any projects. In addition, I do not know if any previous federal or state funding has been reduced or totally removed. If elected, I will be asking a lot of questions.

7. At first, I did not support Stanly County having a seven member board. I agree with the proposed district representation and each candidate being required to be a resident of their district. I liked the five districts as drawn.  Allowing registered voters countywide to determine who would serve in all five districts and in the two at-large seats, is the way it should be. With the addition of two seats there should be more thoughts and ideas brought into the board's discussions for making good decisions.

8. “Down Home” by Alabama

This song describes so much that reminds me of our citizens and their way of life. The line, “When I was a boy, I couldn’t wait to leave this place. Now I want to see my children raised down home.” That tells how parenthood changed his mind and he grew to appreciate the values and lifestyles of his home. Many of us learned the same lesson. The part that reminds me most about Stanly County is, “Folks know if they’ve fallen on hard times, they can fall back on those of us down home.” This line reminds me of the goodness in the hearts of our friends and neighbors.

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