Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:15 PM
HARRISVILLE — Having a balanced budget is the most important item for the city to address, according to upcoming municipal election candidates.
Election Day is Nov. 5
Chad Allen, 39, and Bruce N. Richins, 56, are vying to serve as mayor of Harrisville. Both are currently serving on the city council.
Allen said the city proposed in 2012 to raise taxes 104 percent, but the council voted against it.
“We instead had department heads go back and cut their department budgets,” he said. “The city ended up saving $48,842, so there was no need to raise taxes. We placed that money in a savings plan.”
In 2013, the council voted for a 75 percent tax increase. Allen said he was the only member of the council who voted against it.
“This year we have projected $25,000 will go into our savings fund. If benefits, insurance or retirement changes in the next year, which is likely, we will be short on money and will need to raise taxes again. I feel the city has placed a bandage on this issue. This is not a permanent solution and we need to look long term.”
Allen said his plan for balancing the budget is simple.
“Reduce over spending, don’t raise taxes, hold department heads accountable and build and maintain strong business in the city,” he said.
Richins said the city needs to continue to balance its budget, be fiscally conservative and manage the tax base in order to continue providing the services the residents expect, which includes dealing with a struggling economy.
“We need to continue to have a mayor and council that balances the needs of an older population on a fixed income with the needs of younger families that have their own desires for better education and recreation for their families,” he said.
Richins said he would like to see the youth program grow and develop, improve communications between city government and residents, maintain the rural and bedroom community atmosphere while managing growth and improving the commercial tax base.
Running for city council are Jennifer Jensen, Jeffery Pearce, Gary Robinson and Bill Smith.
Jensen, 35, said money is the most important issue in the city.
“They want to raise taxes 103 percent,” she said. “I am all about paying more taxes if they are going to do the things that will help us make more money and we don’t have to raise taxes again. We need to make more money by bringing in business and we need to take the assets we have and broaden them.”
Jensen said she will also work at improving the recreation program so it can sustain itself and will work to bring more businesses to the city and give them incentives to stick around.
Pearce, 59, said the most important issue on his mind is to improve the sales tax base. He said he will encourage the city to rejoin the Chamber of Commerce and seek other sources that will help develop retail sales.
“In the last eight years I have attended almost every council and planning commission meeting. I have taken advantage of available training to stay informed of changes the state Legislature makes each year,” he said. “I am very committed to the future of our city and very aware of the needs.”
Robinson 63, said not enough is being done to cut and curb the city’s spending habits. He said with the way the economy is going, tax payers shouldn’t be expected to pay more.
Smith did not answer inquires by the Standard-Examiner.
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