Tuesday, September 29, 2015

League of Women Voters Q&A - 2015

What relevant talents, skills and experience do you bring to the Council?
I have served the Second District for the last eight years. During those eight years I have done all that I can to help preserve the New Chauncey neighborhood. Iconic multi-class, multi-generational, near campus neighborhoods like ours routinely disappear. With the New Chauncey Historic District and the New Chauncey Land Use Plan, we hope to encourage restoration, provide information on how to do so, and then help protect the investments of the home owners who have contributed to the historic character of the neighborhood. Given the recent fire death in our neighborhood, I have argued for student health and safety improvements, focusing on code enforcement and the inspection of rental properties. I serve as the council representative to the Go Greener and Historic Commissions. Both the Historic Preservation Commission and the Go Greener Commission are chaired by young Purdue graduate students. This kind of inter-generational involvement is the real benefit of the Purdue annexation.

What is the greatest challenge facing the city? As a council member how will you address it?
How will we deal with the redevelopment of the State St. corridor and the development of the US #231 corridor? Both of these projects are of a kind and scale that we have not tried before, and will be a real test both of our imagination and our management skills. I will continue to lobby for these to be planned developments open to public comment. I am particularly sensitive to the impact of a "re-imagined" State St. on the New Chauncey neighborhood. 

When is tax increment financing useful for the city and when is it not useful?
Given the property tax caps enshrined in the Indiana constitution, there is no other way for the city to fund both significant infrastructure projects and routine capital expenses. The city grows more dependent on TIF dollars with each passing year. My question is not about the usefulness of TIF dollars, but whether the older residential neighborhoods like my own will see any direct benefit from being included in a TIF district. If you like acronyms, let's talk about "PILOTS"; Payments In Lieu of Taxes". Only Westminster pays a "PILOT". Thank you to them! How can our many non-profits pay their fare share for city services?

What are the challenges and advantages of being a level 2 city?
One challenge is that we are a class #2 city operating with a class #3 size staff. Collecting taxes a year in arrears means we have not yet been able to "staff up". We also have a very special partner in this annexation. Purdue is . . . large. We are not. What if Purdue begins to "out-source" public services to the city? How will that affect our budget? The advantage of annexation is our ability to get to the "western lands" beyond Purdue where there are commercial opportunities not capped at 1%. An advantage is in our receipt of those taxes distributed per capita to local governments. The population increase helps here. The philosophical gain is our ability to interest young adults in local politics. The only district council race where three candidates are running is the new District #3; the "student" district. That is worthy of note.

What factors need to be considered in choosing a site for and the construction of a new city hall? How will citizen input be gathered?
I would rather talk about the number, location, and purposes of our municipal buildings. What do we need? Where do we need it? Clearly with annexation the city's population center has moved south and west. Look at the new council districts map. If "State St." is successful, we will have a new "downtown". The administrative centers for this community currently line up along Columbia and State Streets, from Hovde Hall, past the County Courthouse, to Lafayette City Hall. These are all arguments for keeping our "City Hall", our bureaucratic offices, at Morton. But "City Hall" as a front porch for the city; that could be somewhere else. A new community center designed to do those things we like to do, that could be somewhere else. We need not limit the conversation to what is rapidly becoming an anachronistic view of a "City Hall".

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