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Aleshire: What it takes to be a leader

March 05, 2005|by Kristin Aleshire

With the primary election for Hagerstown City Council approaching, I would like to offer voters the following personal perspective on a number of the issues that continue to be items of public discussion.

· Taxes: As assessment and growth have confirmed my belief that the previous year tax increase was unnecessary, I look forward to bringing this issue up during our budget discussions to reduce the tax rate at a minimum by that amount, while continuing to provide appropriate increases in city services and amenities.

· Fees: As development continues to increase within the city, it is important that fees are adjusted accordingly to insure that growth shares in the burden of services it directly impacts.

· County/State: The city/county committee is continuing to complete its comprehensive package of revenue sharing goals, and through this cooperative effort has jointly presented necessary components to the delegation for approval, after which the full package will be presented to both bodies for adoption, allowing us to move forward together.

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· Water/Sewer: We are currently completing the first rate review study of both utilities in two decades, have invested significant funding in planned upgrades, and are working with the county on adopting a water/sewer certification policy to address the ultimate build-out of these finite resources.

· Growth: As a catalyst for progressive annexation policies, we are now experiencing growth that would have otherwise affected city services, without contributing to the city tax base. We are also taking a responsible approach toward approval of rezoning proposals for land within the city, and the effect it has on our redevelopment efforts.

· Downtown: This administration has provided unprecedented investment in downtown redevelopment efforts through project partnerships with numerous private and public investors, supported creation of the Community Development Corporation, expanded our state grant funding programs, developed new rental registration programs and created residential incentive initiatives for increased home ownership.

· Hospital: As I have repeatedly stated, the hospital is a private business and may locate wherever the state allows it. I would simply continue to encourage them to be honest with the public about the cost effectiveness of their relocation efforts.

The city's automatic involvement due to zoning and infrastructure issues does not require us to spend further money on lawyers and consultants to participate in or delay this process.

· Stadium: I believe that we need to see large state and private investment before returning this issue to the forefront, as well as evidence whether the tourist-generating programs currently funded by hotel/motel tax proceeds should be replaced by large public investment for this project, or above other, similar projects, such as school stadium needs.

· Ward System-: Although the ward system would benefit me as one of the few candidates from "my district," I believe that the five most competent citizens should be elected to represent the entire city. And given the ever- changing dynamics of the city, it may be difficult to continually redefine each ward, and accomplish continual positive change.

· Outlook: I invest a lot of effort in reviewing the details for issues that come before the city. I approach each with an open fairness and sincerity that my decision be a reflection of the greater good. I see this position as an obligation to be a productive citizen in offering to the community the skills that I am best suited to make a positive difference with.

This should be the minimum expected of any community leader, and I would only urge citizens to vote for those individuals who are best able to invest effort in making informed decisions on every issue, rather than merely the "hot button" items, by opinions formulated by no more than the knowledge of what exists in the daily beat.

Kristin Aleshire is a member of the Hagerstown City Council.

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