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Mayoral candidates address wasteful spending

May 10, 2009

With the City of Hagerstown's general election approaching, The Herald-Mail asked the three candidates for mayor to respond to five questions.

This week's question is: Do you think steps should be taken to determine whether there is wasteful spending within city government? If so, how would you go about finding the waste?

The May 4 question was: Would you follow in the footsteps of the Washington County government and support the creation of public jobs at a time when the private sector is making personnel cuts to remain fiscally solvent?

The April 27 question was: Should city residents have to pay to repair their sidewalks? How would you solve this long-standing issue?

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The April 20 questions were: Why are you running for public office?

Should the city modify zoning to prevent the possible construction of convenience stores or fast-food restaurants in residential neighborhoods?

Editor's note: The following is the last of five questions that candidates for mayor of Hagerstown were asked to answer, followed by their responses. Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 150 words. Responses were edited for length, and to fix typos or errors. Otherwise, they appear as they were received from the candidates.

This week's question is: Do you think steps should be taken to determine whether there is wasteful spending within the city government? If so, how would you go about finding the waste?

Robert E. Bruchey II, 50

Republican, Incumbent

905 Woodland Way

I believe that our staff efficiently controls spending within their respective departments. Our budgets reflect that fact. Municipal government is the closest to the people, and our budget document is an open book that one can easily access and follow. We have taken steps to reduce fuel consumption and wear and tear on our vehicles through our revamped take-home vehicle policy, and have reduced the number of take-home vehicles with more to come in future budget cycles. We currently piggyback off of county and state contracts for supplies.

Are there areas where we could do better? Yes. If we went to a paperless meeting, we could save money on paper and have updates on the agenda items downloaded directly to a laptop. This, however, would call for an initial start-up cost and would be counterproductive to saving money at this time to enact such a program.

David S. Gysberts, 31

Democrat

795 Hamilton Blvd.

City leaders should constantly be taking steps to eliminate wasteful spending. As mayor, I would hold numerous budget workshops not only with the City Council, but also with all the stakeholders, to ensure an open budget process. Getting feedback from organizations, including unions and Neighborhoods 1st groups, will enable us to share the responsibility of creating a budget focused on the health, safety and welfare of the people of Hagerstown. There are numerous agencies within city government and in the community working to achieve similar ends in addressing issues such as poverty, homeownership and economic development.

As mayor, I will work hard to synergize these groups and their efforts, to create a common vision and make for more efficient use of our resources. I believe city government needs to be flexible enough to restructure the human resources we have to keep pace with fluctuations in the local economy.

Jonathan R. Burrs, 38

Republican, Write-in candidate

950 Lanvale St.

Wasteful spending is always a problem in government, mainly because people genuinely disagree on what constitutes waste. My approach would be to meet with department heads, city and county officials to assess Hagerstown's current and projected financial health, and collectively determine a strategy for moving city business forward.

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