As Judge Executive, I will make sure that the tax dollars being spent by the County are going toward areas and programs that the people of Grant County need and want, so that we are able to see the benefits of our tax dollars at work. I will focus on several areas including:
The county has been operating off of a budget that most businesses with its revenue would never be able to survive. During the Fiscal Court meetings last year, even going line by line through the budget with department heads until late at night, there were still many missing pieces.
The bottom line was that there is tens of thousand of dollars that is not being spent in areas that would help the County and its residents. As Judge Executive one of the first things I will do is go through the budget line by line, department by department working to streamline processes and procedures to the most economical and efficient ways possible. I will also work to cancel or renegotiate contracts that are obsolete or can use reallocated resources to achieve the same result.
As an example, the current administration was willing to spend over $60,000 to hire a consulting firm to create a report of what was needed to bring the old courthouse up to code, when we have a competent building inspector with this knowledge on staff for the County.
As another example, the current County Attorney acknowledges that there are severely delinquent taxes on the books, but refuses to collect. I would evaluate the current County taxes being collected, and make collecting outstanding and grossly past due taxes a priority.
One of the main issues I was vocal about in the town meetings and ordinances passed last year was the lack of restrictions repaying the $2.5 million loan taken out by the County. The current administration did exactly what I had expected and tried to spend the proceeds from this tax on raises for County employees and new road department equipment, NOT paying off the debt early.
As Judge Executive, I would abolish the existing payroll tax and replace it with a gross receipts tax. By doing this, it puts the control back in the hands of the residents of the County on how much tax we pay and increases the amount of taxes collected from the additional tourism from the Ark and other visitors to the County, instead of just taxing the people who work here. It gives us the control of our hard earned money back so we can spend that money on the things we need instead of 2% of our paychecks going to bail out the County with no control on what it is spent.
As much as the jail has been in the paper and social media, I don’t believe it should be closed; in fact, I believe that closing the jail creates more problems for our community than it solves. It has simply just been a mismanaged situation.
As Judge Executive, I would work with the new Jailer and Sheriff to create a reasonable budget and find a functional, stand-alone and productive use for the jail through implementing some of the tried and tested, successful programs and strategies utilized by other jails throughout the country. I would also clean house, focusing on changing the small things that add up, such as having the punch list items that are still remaining from the jail’s renovations years ago.
I will make public safety a top priority and will review existing studies and evaluations to see that residents of Grant County have the public safety we deserve and our tax dollars are being spent on programs that will benefit us. I will review budgets and staffing to make sure that every man hour spent is being utilized to its best ability. Existing programs that are not working will be cut and I will work with the new sheriff to make sure that Grant County is a safe place to raise families, start lives and retire.
Tax dollars should not be spent on overpriced equipment unjustly, or without due diligence by the persons responsible for approving the payment.
Just as most of us do with our personal equipment and vehicles, existing equipment should be evaluated and repaired if possible. As Judge Executive, I would require all equipment purchases for the County be based on a competitive bid process to make sure our tax dollars stretch to their best potential.
Our County roads would be evaluated and repairs prioritized making sure the urgent issues are dealt with and that our infrastructure is maintained and improved to provide a long lasting effect, within our budget, not just a band-aid to get though the next 4 years.
What's your opinion on this? I'd love to hear from you!