The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

April 24, 2014

County Commission candidates express views on issues


Thursday, April 24, 2014 — Board of Commissioners - District 2

Ronny Couick (Republican)

Personal: 53 years old, married to Heather Boles Couick, five children and three grandchildren;

Occupation: Owner of Yard Works Power Equipment in Norwood;

Background: Native of Union County, moved to Stanly County six years ago.

Civic activities:  Members of North Albemarle Baptist Church.

1. People that enter my business have expressed concerns about how manufacturing has left this once prosperous county. I hear their cries for leadership that is not only focused on trying to regain what we have lost but should be aggressively working to create an atmosphere that is conducive to new business creation. These people have stopped communicating their concerns and believe their voices have little or no value to our leaders. I place a high value on each person’s input and want to develop a clear path that the citizens not only join in with, but might actually get excited about. We need to work together so our children might have a county that allows them to achieve their dreams.

I have always worked to continuously improve myself and my surroundings. I have participated in numerous programs designed to improve product, minimize costs and reduce waste. I am known as a problem solver and believe the knowledge gained from operating several successful businesses will help me understand both perspectives of what businesses need and what the citizens need. I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to work with you. I’m willing to work for you.

2. I think everyone has a deep concern over the loss of prosperity, lost jobs, lost wages, and lost money. But so many problems arise when the cash flow stops.

Communication is a key factor. We need to join together, discuss our issues as a group, and reach the consensus on where we are, where we want to go, what we need to get there and the time frame in which to accomplish this. I would like to see an increase in membership in our Economic Development Commission as more input and networking might bring forth new ideas and opportunities we are currently missing. We need reports from our boards to be presented during the commissioner meetings so the people can see what progress is being accomplished. We need to increase accountability. We need to work together to create the Stanly County that we can proudly pass on to our children and their children. Tell me what you think Stanly County needs. Let’s start communicating … and keep communicating until we reach our goals. Then we can set new goals.

3. Regaining prosperity will require a clear set of goals that we, as a group, need to set. First we need to define our current status, basically creating the county report card. This constantly updating report needs to address many priorities, some of which are our government financial fitness, the responsibilities of our county government, taxes, education, infrastructure, social programs and many more.

Secondly, we need to bring together the Economic Development Boards of each town together with the county, pooling their resources together, and find out why over 80 percent of the business inquiries for Stanly County did not elect to come here. Next, select and correct the easiest items, followed by the more difficult as well as communicating our intentions to the people.

But the key to major improvement is large scale manufacturing business as this will create a larger county income that will be spread to the other businesses and to the county citizens. More jobs paying better wages will allow people to buy better homes and nicer vehicles, all of which will increase the tax base. A larger tax base will provide for higher wages for county employees, afford better infrastructure, and encourage even more businesses.    

4. I do not favor increasing taxes unless we have no other alternative. Once raised government very rarely ever reduces taxes, even in good times. Many already have enough of a burden to bear thanks to the national economy and would not welcome an extra tax.

Do we really need to increase  revenue or can we reduce our need for more revenue without sacrificing services?

I would like to see purchasing between all county and city departments combined together whenever possible with the goal of larger purchases receiving better pricing. Let’s bring together, all departments with similar operations, and develop best practices to reduce waste. Employee input would be critical here so they need to be involved. A process called Lean Manufacturing reduces waste and improves profit for businesses and I believe it can help reduce the tax burden on our citizens.

5. I believe this question has to be weighed on the merit of the service and its efficiency at providing that service with the least costs possible. Let’s first look at how we can become more efficient and then if we still can’t meet our obligations then we can adjust the tax rate to continue the required services.

If we need to increase the rate, then we need to freeze the current rate for our seniors who live on a fixed income, at least for the first $200,000 of taxable property. We should not put the extra burden on those who have no other means of increasing their income.

6. All county services need to be evaluated. If one department has employees available to work, but are not needed that day or week, then maybe we can redistribute those workers to other departments that are in need of extra help on a temporary basis. Reallocation of assets between departments needs to be considered, as well as sharing of equipment that has only occasional use, between the county and other municipalities in Stanly County. Why buy expensive equipment when someone else has it sitting idle in a warehouse. Combine all like processes, such as vehicle maintenance in one location to provide better service and reduce costs.

7. The previous format and the new one both have merits and issues. I wish the voters would have had the chance to voice their opinion through referendum so their opinion was given the highest consideration. After all, it is supposed to be the government of the people.

8. In my opinion, “This is My Town” by Montgomery Gentry.

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