Having lived in Billings for the past 32 years, I love to call Billings home. It is energizing to have witnessed new growth and thriving businesses yet relying on some of the those “tried and true” small businesses that continue to grace our fair city.
As a candidate for City Council Ward 4, I have listened and shared the concerns of the voters. Some of those concerns revolve around the lack of adequate policing especially in the areas of crime and traffic, Second Amendment rights, Centennial Park, the runaway spending on the One Big Sky District plan, homelessness and safety in the Downtown area, the effects of the Inner Belt Loop, increasing taxes — just to name a few.
Most all of the above concerns revolve around the $330 million yearly budget within which the city operates. The past two years the taxpayers have seen increased spending but not for the priority issues that face the city’s increasing needs. City government exists to provide comprehensive public safety and sustainable infrastructure needs such as clean water, safe roads, parks, and waste management.
I believe a conservative approach focusing on less government with efficient and effective use of tax dollars will serve our citizens well by 1) attracting new business and industry, 2) caring for the needs of the 25% population of our seniors, disabled and lower income, 3) focusing on training a more skilled workforce to meet the needs of local businesses and future enterprises, 4) partnering with the county regarding some of the law enforcement needs and 5) revisit some of the assessment districts. These are just a few ideas, but again, how does the City Council set policies to address all of these and more?
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I have reached out to millennials and baby boomers alike to explore the needs and demands of an expanding city. My end question is, “How do we pay for it?” Then it gets down to prioritizing and pursuing creative approaches to increasing revenue without burdening the taxpayers. Some of the ideas pitched the past one to three years have included a local option tax meant to tax the tourists yet 40% of the revenue would come from local citizens with no clear-cut means of property tax relief.
This past year was the One Big Sky District, an attempt to revitalize the downtown area and provide additional revenue with a new city hall, a convention center, retail and residential center and Montana State University Billings campus facilities. The exorbitant amount of money that was needed from unknown investors to get this off the ground was not viable. Then the taxpayers dollars were put at risk to complete the deal. I think we can come up with more creative approaches.
In each of the five City Council races, there are distinct differences in ideology as to government’s role in generating revenue. As a fiscal and social conservative, I want to dedicate my service as a council member to set policies which will insure the restraint of government so the private sector can prosper yet provide excellence in how services are delivered.
I truly love Billings and have been honored to serve the community in various ways. I grew up with six siblings and we didn’t have a lot of extras, but both of my parents believed in hard work, accountability and serving others. I hope my life in Billings reflect those values thus earning your confidence that you will cast your vote for me in November for Ward 4 Billings City Council.