In response to The Billings Gazette invitation for a guest opinion, they asked me to address the top priorities for the City Council, so here goes. The top priority will be to hire an awesome city manager, not necessarily someone with past city experience, but someone with a business degree, a great understanding of money management, and a positive resume of business experience.
My next priority will be to try and get a handle on the gang and drug problem scourging our city. All the petty crimes and graffiti are directly affecting the citizens of Billings. The security of our families, property, and our homes is more at risk every day, nothing seems safe anymore. As Billings continues to grow, this problem with gangs and drugs will only continue to grow if left unchecked.
My next priority will be to property owners, both personal and business, to use tax funds conservatively, prudently, and transparently. Conservatively saving a few cents, dollars, or hundreds of dollars will have rewards and flexibility as time goes by. Prudently using available funds, like getting by with a Chevy instead of a Mercedes with similar results at much less cost, is a responsibility owed to tax payers. Transparently giving all facts related to expenditures like total costs, hidden future costs of a project, duration of actual costs assessed, should be a top consideration of any future endeavors. Another issue related to tax on property owners is the number people that use any and all city services both day and night and do so for free. They fail to have any skin in the game because they live just outside the Billings city limits, or the tourists stopping in Billings on their way to another destination.
When deciding on a yea or nay vote, it should be council members' top priority to study and research the subject being voted on. Care must be taken to understand what impact said subject could cause, questions pro and con need to be asked, is there a vocal concern from the ward members I represent, are property owners and business owners being asked to carry the brunt of costs if there are new costs involved. I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves, get down in the mud and dirt, and struggle to come up with the best possible outcome. All yea votes always end with a solution, but not necessarily the best solution.