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Meet the candidates: Taylorsville City Commission

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By The Staff

Candidates for Taylorsville City Commission were each asked to complete a survey of questions. The following is their unedited answers to these questions. Of the seven candidates, the top four vote-getters will earn a spot on the commission. This is a non-partisan race. Responses will be listed in alphabetical order.

Please note that a large portion of Kathy Spears' response was omitted from Wednesday's paper, but can be read in its entirety here.

Survey questions:

1. How long have you been a resident of Taylorsville?

2. What motivates you to seek the office of City Commissioner?

3. What experiences do you have that would make you the better candidate?

4. What do you believe are the issues that matter most to the residents of Taylorsville and what is your position on these issues?

5. What is your stand on the creation of a charter government?

6. What could you do to foster a better working relationship with county leaders as the community seeks to grow economically?

7. Last year the city approved a .75 percent occupational tax on workers in the city limits to offset projected budgetary shortfalls and cover rising expenses, such as health care costs and a state mandated increase in hazardous duty pay for police officers. What is your position on future tax increases?

8. What are three goals you have for improving the City of Taylorsville? How do you plan to accomplish these goals?

Gordon P. Deapen

Occupation: Manager, Human Resources, United States Postal Service

Family: Wife, Sandy, 7 children, 10 grandchildren

How long have you been in the City of Taylorsville: Seven years

I have always been interested in public service. I got active in the community shortly after I moved here. I have served and continue to be a Commissioner with the Taylorsville/Spencer County Planning and Zoning Board for the past 3 years. I was asked to serve on the Charter Government Committee by both the Mayor and the County Judge Executive. I have spent the last few years as a member of the Taylorsville Main Street Committee. During my time with this group we have successfully sought and received grants for the improvement of the City of Taylorsville of over $600,000 including the just announced $360,000 for Main Street.

After almost 40 years of Federal Government service, I am retiring at the end of this year. I started my career as a clerk and was an officer in the employee unions. For the past 30 plus years I have held management positions in human resources, operations, project management and quality Improvement. I worked at all levels of government; local, Regional and Headquarters. I am currently the Manager of Human Resources for 10,000 postal employees in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. I know how to solve problems and how to get things done. The combination of my local and Federal experience has prepared me well to be of service to the City of Taylorsville.

Over the past few years, Taylorsville has grown quickly. Growth is good, but must be managed well. Our growth has been centered on the housing sector. We need business and industry in order to develop a strong infrastructure. We need decent paying jobs in Taylorsville for our local folks. In order to make this happen, we need leadership that is friendly to business and mindful of what it takes to make an exceptional place to live. I am pro business and pro development provided that we are careful not to tramp on those things that make our community a special place to live.

As stated above, I am a member of the Charter Government Committee. My position is clear and has been consistent from the beginning. I believe strongly that it is premature to be for or against charter government because we do not yet know what it is. It is not something that we can go to the store and buy the plans for. We have to develop the concept from scratch. Many factors have to be considered, such as how we preserve the identity of this special city, how we organize government services to be effective for our citizens and whether the results are the same or better than we now have at the same or less cost. Once we develop a model that we can look at we can decide if it makes sense for us or not. I am aware that this is not a popular position with some of the folks in our city. During my 30 years of management experience that simply accepting—or rejecting a vague concept without careful study and consideration leads to poor decisions. In the time I have lived here, I have seen our community change. It is inevitable that change will continue. Our choices are clear. We can simply continue to do things the way we always have and see where change takes us or we can actively work on managing change to give us a positive result. I don’t want to look back in five or ten years and think, “If only we had planned better, Taylorsville would still be a great place to live.

My experience in government has taught me that we rarely operate in a vacuum as much as we might want to. There are many issues that beg for better communication, cooperation and team work between the city and county. I would do all I could to foster this relationship without sacrificing those things that are vital to the success of our city’s government.

No one I know is in favor of increased taxes. We need to take a very hard look at the taxes we are currently assessing. We must look twice as hard at any new taxes we deem necessary. That being said, as a community leader it is sometimes necessary to shoulder the responsibility to determine how we will pay for current services as costs go up. If we, as a city, decide to enhance the services we currently provide, we must be upfront about the costs of those improvements and be honest about what we will have to do to pay for them.

I believe we need to promote our sense of community. Taylorsville is a special place and we need to preserve that. We do that in several ways. We need to enhance the business environment to create more local services and more jobs. One of the reasons that I have gotten involved in volunteer groups is I believe no one is going to give us anything on a silver platter. We are going to have to work together to make good things happen. I will continue to actively promote citizen involvement in various projects designed to make this an even better place to call home.

We need to do more for our children and youth. I cannot count the number of times that I have heard wise, old gray-hairs like me lament that the kids here have nothing to do. The reality is that the kids can’t change that. It is the gray-hairs that are going to have to get up off our sofas and put together activities that engage our next generation in positive ways. Half the battle is just getting organized and connected with our kids as part of our community. Our increased involvement will go a long way toward things we all want. Our kids will do better in school if they know we care and will help. They will resist the dangers of drugs if they have positive activities to do on a Friday night. They will understand the value of a good work ethic if there are jobs to do and mentors there for them. It takes adults that care to make this happen.

We need to restore a sense of dignity, respect and responsiveness to our local government. Our citizens should not be afraid to go before their elected representatives because they are concerned that they will be ridiculed or demeaned. We, as their elected representatives, should embrace their ideas and judged those ideas on merit, rather than who came up with them. Working together we will exceed our dreams and succeed beyond what we have previously thought possible. We need to be willing to team up with people that can make good things happen, whether they are our friends or not. That is the kind of commissioner I want to be.

Lynda Huckleberry

Occupation: Self-Employed

Family: 2 Daughters - Lori Huckleberry & Angela Huckleberry, 1 Granddaughter - Emily Grace McBride

How long have you been in the City of Taylorsville: I have lived in the city for 3 ½ years and lived in the county for 30 years.

I am seeking re-election for the office of city commissioner. My motivation behind this endeavor stems from working within the city and dealing with the public on a daily basis. I hear first-hand from the citizens about the likes and dislikes of what is going on within the community. As a commissioner, I am a voice for those citizens and strive for what is beneficial for both the citizens and the city.

I have two years of experience on the city commission in which I have learned how the various city departments work- within. I value the importance of each of these and strive to be of support to them, ensuring that they offer the best service possible to the public. I have also owned my own business within the city for fourteen years and I realize the importance of proper budgeting, professionalism, and dedication.

I feel that many residents of Taylorsville value the importance of taxes first of all.

Upon re-election as a commissioner, I will work to keep tax rates as low as possible just as I have done in the past two years while in office. In 2007, the real property tax rate was lowered to $0.148 per $100 of assessment and I voted to keep the same rate for 2008.

In 2008, the personal property tax was lowered from $0.3933 per $100 of assessment to $0.25 per $100 of assessment. Again, I supported. During this time period, I also supported the move to enter into an interlocal agreement with the fire department, thus eliminating double taxing on residents of Highview, Pin Oak, Old South Plantation, as well as Country Mart and the business park that will begin in 2009.

The above mentioned are all examples of where I have voted to lower taxes.

I am against the creation of charter government for our community. I feel that the community is unaware of the many interlocal agreements that the city and county already have in place. It can’t be a fair vote due to the number of city voters vs. the number of county voters. It is not clear to me why any citizen would want to do away with the city of Taylorsville’s government. The citizens pay their own taxes so that they may receive the services that are rendered by the city such as the police department, fire department, public works, water, and sewer.

I have no problem at all when it comes to working with any county official. I have always been open to working with those who hold county offices and I will continue to strive for professionalism in this area if re-elected.

I am against any tax increases related to the Occupational License Tax. While serving as commissioner, I have fought to keep this tax rate as low as possible and to keep the administration in house, thus saving on payroll expenses. Currently, the funds from this particular tax are being used to address drainage problems, tree removal, street repair, and sidewalk repairs.

Upon my re-election as city commissioner, I would first of all like to see abandoned rental properties repaired. This can be achieved by implementing strict city ordinances and ensuring that they are fully enforced. Secondly, I would like to continue the water drainage and tree removal projects. This is currently in the works and with proper funds, will be a success. And lastly, I would like to see that the entire city has sidewalks and adequate lighting.

Beverly Bentley Ingram

My name is Beverly Bentley Ingram, and I am the owner of the Red Scooter, located on Main Street in Taylorsville.

I have a wonderful family that consists of Angela Holton Vance (Matt) and Roxie L. Holton, Jr. (Debbie). I am the proud grandmommy (yahoo) of Caden, Owen, Sam, Cambell, and Natalie. My parents were Hollis and Margaret Cissell Bentley. I have two sisters, Lana and Judy, and one brother, Jeff. I consider the Scooter Girls, and all of my friends, family too!

As a long-time resident, and local business owner and operator, I care deeply about the future of Taylorsville. I have worked for 13 years to promote Taylorsville and Spencer County through the Red Scooter. I have served as a voting member on the Main Street committee since its formation, developing the beautification process for our city. I feel this process has not taken anything away from our historic city, but only added to its charm. I feel that through my involvement as a city commissioner I can make a positive difference in moving our city forward.

As a business owner and operator, I have developed the necessary skills to ensure that my business remains a going concern. These skills include organization, administrative, financial, marketing, human resources, and basically whatever is required. These skills will serve me well as a city commissioner as I seek to ensure that taxpayer money is spent wisely for the benefit of all residents.

I believe the quality of life is the most important issue to the residents of Taylorsville. Residents want access to basic services and to feel secure that their city government is involved in developing programs that make Taylorsville a desirable place to live and raise a family. As city commissioner, that will always be my primary objective.

I feel the idea of a charter government, in theory, makes good economic sense. For example, many duplicate services could potentially be eliminated, thereby reducing government spending. However, from a resident’s perspective and as an elected official, I feel that whatever happens should reflect the will of the people, and not special interest groups.

I think that the city and county understand that economic growth is a mutual interest shared by all residents. If elected, I would seek to work closely with county officials to ensure that programs are put in place that would bring about economic growth for the benefit of all residents.

As a new city commissioner I would seek to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and that wasteful spending is eliminated. I have never supported tax increases for the sole purpose of increasing the size of government. The responsibility of government is to provide basic services to the community without unjustly taxing its residents.

The goals that I have as a city commissioner are to develop and implement programs that would bring about economic growth, enhance the quality of life of its residents, and ensure access to basic services to all. I believe that this can be done best by working together and always putting the needs of the community first. As an elected official, I will never forget that I am a representative of the people.

John “Jack” Proctor

Retired

3 grown daughters and 5 grandchildren.

I moved to Spencer County in 1991, and relocated to “town” in 2003. Of all the towns I could have chosen, I am glad I chose Taylorsville. Here your neighbors become your friends.

I am motivated to seek the Office of City Commissioner because I have become involved and am very supportive of city government. Positive and exciting things are happening in Taylorsville and I want to be a part of that growth and change.

I have experience in the business sector in public relations, personnel management, financial matters and leadership skills. Presently, serving as a commissioner I have an understanding of what is being done and what needs to be done in the future.

What matters most to Taylorsville residents is the availability of adequate police and fire protection, water, and sewers. All of these services come under the Office of the Mayor and City Commissioners. At this time, all is well, with these agencies, all are operating within their respective budgets.

Great strides have been made in the appearance of our inner City. The $360,000 enhancement funds just awarded the Main Street Renovation Project will allow improvements like those in Phase I.

“Down Town” Taylorsville will take on a complete new look, a look that will attract visitors and shoppers to our city. As a commissioner I will support all of the groups, agencies and individuals involved in providing these services and improvements.

On the issue of a charter government, I am a member of the Charter Government Committee, and due to the impending litigation, I feel it would be inappropriate for me to comment. However, my personal opinion, the inter-local agreements now in place, are effective and work well.

Cooperate and communicate. I have great respect and appreciation for our county leaders in their efforts to promote Spencer County economically. Economic success is not achieved quickly, it requires years of planning. It cannot be about individual or group success, it must be about community (Taylorsville-Spencer County) success.

I feel the City’s revenue is adequate to provide for the operation of vital services. Presently, I see no need to raise taxes, in fact, last year we were able to reduce taxes in two areas.

Foremost on my list, completion of current projects: Main Street Renovation, complete drainage and beautification project on side streets. Honor commitments to businesses locating in Spencer County. Completion of three and one half million-dollar water project. I would like for Spencer County to build a “Disaster Center” that could be multifunctional. These are all attainable and financially possible without increasing taxes.

Kathy Spears

I am a substitute teacher for the Spencer County School District. I have lived on East Main Street my entire life.

I am motivated to seek re-election to the City commission because I genuinely care about my hometown and its continued existence. Whether you have lived here your entire life or you have recently made Taylorsville your home, you can’t help but like its small town atmosphere filled with friendly people and businesses that haven’t lost that personal touch. Also, U.S. history and government were my favorite subjects in high school and college. I love talking about Taylorsville’s history and our community with the students I teach.

I have 10 years experience as a city commissioner. In those ten years, I have become knowledgeable in the everyday running of the city both on the general government side and on the water/sewer side. I have been a part of the water phase projects that, when complete, will serve everyone in Spencer County feasibly possible with water. The commission, our staff, our fire chief, and our engineers have worked to apply and receive so many tens of thousands of dollars in grant money for projects in our community from water extensions, to new fire trucks and breathing apparatus, to sewer plant expansion, and the Reasor Street project just to name a few. The Main Street Committee has worked equally hard to apply and receive grants for the Main Street revitalization to give our historic district a beautiful, fresh look. If re-elected, I intend to continue working for the people of Taylorsville to move our city forward.

I believe the number one issue that matters most to residents of Taylorsville is taxes. No one wants higher taxes. In 2008, personal property taxes were lowered from $0.3933 per $100 of assessment to $0.25 per $100 or assessment. This is approximately a 40% reduction. The real property tax rate for 2007 was lowered to $0.148 per $100 of assessment and was kept at that rate for 2008.

Recently, the commission entered into an interlocal agreement with the Taylorsville-Spencer County Fire District, which will stop double taxation by eliminating the 5-cent per $100 of assessment fire tax on residents in Highview, Old South Plantation, and Pin Oak as well as on County Mart and the Business Park. This will begin in 2009 and will save the average homeowner in these subdivision approximately $100 per year per household. I supported all the above tax reductions that have and will save money for the residents of Taylorsville.

I am for the preservation of the City of Taylorsville and its 209-year history. I am for the present city government system remaining in place as the voice of Taylorsville’s citizens now and in the future. We are your elected officials charged with the task you elected us to do - represent you and your interest. Therefore, I am against charter government since the ultimate goal of those wanting charter is the dissolution of the city. For those who signed the petition, part of the law was omitted from the petition’s wording. That just so happened to be a very important part in the city’s opinion, a part that provides for consolidation of services rather than charter government that would dissolve the City. The City has asked the courts for a Declaration of Rights to clarify if that omission was legal and if the petition signatures were acquired legally. Individuals have stated they thought it was just a study, or they didn’t know what they were signing, or they signed it for the T-shirt, or that wasn’t their signature. Then there is the fact that the City was not allowed equal representation on the Charter commission. That is what the law provides but that is unfair representation. In my opinion, all of these issues need to be addressed by the courts and answers given before proceeding.

Both city and County leaders must remain open to working together for the common good of our community. In my ten years on the city Commission, I can’t recall a time the city didn’t sit down with the County when asked to do so. There are several interlocal agreements that are proof of that fact.

Last year the City Commission voted to levy a 0.75 percent occupational tax (OLT) on workers in the city limits. I felt this was necessary to bring in the funds needed to address the major drainage issues we have in the part of the city inside the floodwall. This money was also needed for projects to clean up Taylorsville, to fix potholes, pave streets, repair or replace sidewalks, replace missing street signed, tree removal, and to cover a possible increase in hazardous duty retirement for police. Fortunately, hazardous duty retirement rates were lowered this year. Projects addressing the above issues are ongoing on Main Cross, with other areas to follow. When the city first proposed the OLT, 1.25 percent was the amount discussed. Then the City and the County were going to do a combined OLT but that didn’t work out. Then I made the motion to get the amount of the OLT lowered to the 0.75%, which is what the City Commission ultimately agreed upon. The OLT is being spent on projects that are needed for our community to move forward and they won’t all happen overnight. When the needed projects are completed, I will review the necessity of keeping the OLT at the present rate. I will not vote to raise this tax.

My first goal is to keep the drainage sidewalk and paving projects ongoing. When Main Cross is finished, I will push for work to be continued on Washington, Crume Court, O’Dell Court, and Hardin Court and any other areas that need attention. As long as money is available to do this work, I will vote to continue its progress. Second, I will continue to see that the early warning weather sirens are purchased and installed. One between Spencer County Middle School and Spencer County Elementary which will benefit the over 1,600 staff and students in those buildings on a school day as well as Pin Oak and Old South Plantation and the other will be placed between Early Wyne and Highview and will benefit the Business park as well. A FEMA grant has been applied for and, if awarded, will pay for a large portion of the cost of the two sirens. These tow sirens and the one already on school hill will give the entire City coverage and will help save lives if our community is hit with another tornado like in February. Third, I will continue to support the efforts of those who want to improve Taylorsville, bring in new businesses and make our City a warm and inviting place to live and visit. I want the children of our community to be proud to call Taylorsville home, I have and will continue to keep the students I teach informed about Taylorsville and all the events that take place such as Octoberfest, Trick or Treat on main, and Christmas on Main.

 

Ernest A. Whitehouse

Retired from G.E.

My wife and I live alone. I have three children and six grandchildren.

I was born and raised in Spencer County. I moved back to the county 13 years ago. I have lived in the City of Taylorsville for almost one year.

I want to be of service to my community and I feel that I will be a good representative for the citizens of Taylorsville.

We all have life-long experiences that teach us lessons about various things. I have fresh look on things and feel I can work with almost anyone. I will strive to provide and promote a spirit on cooperation on the Town Board.

Police coverage: We need our police officers patrolling our town and providing services to our citizens and businesses.

Drainage: Drainage has always been a problem, but we need to rework our streets and drainage system to provide the best service possible. We also need to regularly check our pumping stations to make sure they are always ready to pump excess surface water out of our town.

As of right now, the petition is here. We, as a town need to make sure it is legal and in order. If it is, then we can’t do anything until we see what the committee proposes for us. Then we need to go through it line by line and compare it with what we have now in regard to services and expenses.

First and foremost make sure there are open lines of communication between city, county and business leaders in the community. I will work with them to improve and execute our economic development plans.

I will not vote for any new taxes.

a) I want to see all city employees time and skills used wisely. Examine each department and see if I have any recommendations for improvement.

b) Drainage can definitely stand improvement by maintaining what we have and adding improvements as we can manage.

c) Reduce crime by wise use of our police force and encouraging cooperation with both the county and the state. I would also explore interest in neighborhood watches and a county wide anonymous tip-line.

I believe all of these thins can be accomplished without raising taxes.

Phyllis Williams

My sister, Joan Smith, and I opened T&R Antiques 6 1/2 years ago on Main Street in Taylorsville.

My husband is Jack Williams. We have been married 26 years. I have 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. My children and grandchildren live in the Carolinas. My mother, Irene Goodall, lives with me and helps my sisters and me run T&R Antiques. My father, Elvy Goodall, is deceased.

In my 6 years here, I have attended many city commission meetings, worked with the main street program, been a part of the business community downtown and feel a great sense of belonging in Taylorsville.

As I continue to grasp the working of City Government in these areas, I know I can be a representative for all of us and help steer us forward.

My background in business(real estate) is a great asset. It helps me to be able to follow the fiscal affairs of the city - the audits - budget and work policies.

As previously stated, my background in the real estate business gives me the background to work with organizations and groups of people to arrive at the best solutions.

I was a realtor for 20 years. I was a managing broker for a branch office for four years. I was a director for the Board of Realtors. As a director, I served on the grievance committee. I served as local chapter president of WCR(Women’s Council of Realtors), state chapter President of WCR, and president of ABWA(American Business Women’s Association). I have been vice chairman of the Main Street Committee for the last two years. I am the representative for T&R Antiques at the Chamber of Commerce. These are just a few of the positions that I have held in organizations.

I have constant and strong work ethics. If elected, I will work hard to help see to our needs.

Overall, we need more business in the city. We need to continue to try to get new businesses-to enable us to do our buying at home and keep our dollars here!

In our annexed areas, the needs at present are safety-(police and fire protection) and oversight to be sure the streets, drainage, water and sewer needs are engineered in the best possible way and to have continual oversight as these new areas are being developed.

The city is now working toward updating our sewer plant to be able to provide more inflow for the remainder of developments already started and those to come. The work on the sewer plant is slated to start in February, 2009. These plans were done by developers, city commission, city engineers, and Division of Water working closely together to provide for needs. I will support working on these needs.

I am a member, for the city, on the Charter Government Commission. After listening to different views, my feeling is that the state statute is poorly worded with no proper way set out to obtain a petition, that the petition circulated here left out the important provision that we could either combine services(already mostly done by inter-local agreements) or form a Charter Government. If Charter Government was ever done, there is no way to get out of it if it doesn’t work.

I will not ever be in favor of doing away with the City of Taylorsville. It is needed for all of us. My other understanding is that no other cities would be formed in this county. Why would they be? They could not govern themselves!

I believe that Taylorsville took the right step, to ask for a Declaration of Rights in court.

I feel one fallacy stated to push for Charter Government is: “It would save us money.” How? No one is able to answer that. They say it is a “theory”. From all appearances, combining governments in Louisville, Jefferson County costs more!

With my involvement in our city, I feel that mostly there is a good relationship with the county. From listening to city meetings, I know that when the phase of water being worked on now is finished, about 98% of Spencer Countians will have city water. True, this has created approximately a $10 million debt for Taylorsville Water, but that debt is able to be handled by working with Rural Water and their regulations. The city needs to continue to work for the rest of Spencer County to provide water and sewer.

Sometimes it seems that city and county not working together is an idea in a few people’s minds, not true in reality. We need to keep reminding of agreements and using more inter local agreements for betterment for all of us.

No more tax increases! It seems that this occupational tax was needed. It is mostly obligated for use to repair drainage/ditches, sidewalks, to take down older trees which are decayed and streets which need repair. The way this money is used shows a looking ahead to future needs. We must look to the children’s needs for crosswalks and lighting.

I do believe that people who work in the city should petition Spencer County Government to exclude city workers from paying a second tax to the county. The taxes paid by city workers should be used to promote a better kept city.

To continue to improve infra-structure in city--I will watch the budget carefully and vote to use money available for improvements.

To continue working with the Main Street program. Since the City of Taylorsville has been awarded money from the state to complete Phase II, I will certainly stay involved and help the downtown present a pretty and well-kept appearance, not only for us, but for the people who visit our community.

To continue to help structure subdivision regulations to make them the best we can for our new city citizens.

I would like to include a fourth goal when I’m elected, and it relates to tourism. I believe that tourism(as well and new businesses) will be a major factor in our economical growth in Taylorsville/Spencer County. I will continue to help Main Street, Chamber of Commerce, the city and county governments and other involved entities to work with each other for our community. I will work hard and be a positive support for all of us.