By Benjamin Rossi
3:46 PM EDT, October 31, 2012
What ideas do you have to increase revenue or to create revenue streams for the city of Wilmore?
Our fiscal solutions may not always be to create new revenue streams — we already pay some of the highest property tax rates in central Kentucky. I commend the staff in city hall for doing an excellent job of addressing delinquent property taxes, and occupational fees and taxes; and I anticipate that will result in a significant continuing increase in revenue for the city. Related to this, I believe we must find ways to restructure our tax system to relieve some of the tax pressure on those who pay property and business taxes. It would be very helpful to find ways that the larger tax-exempt institutions could help the city budget on a regular basis. It will also become necessary to make some hard, but essential, decisions on what we fund in our budget and what we do not fund.
Do you feel taking over the Crouse cemetery is a financially beneficial move for the city? If so, how will the city pay for it?
It is not financially beneficial for the city to take over the Wilmore City Cemetery but it is the right thing to do. I feel that we have a moral obligation to honor those who have gone before. I also support the idea proposed by Councilman Jeff James to form a foundation to provide leadership and management over the cemetery and to develop funding to ensure its financial stability for the future.
Why should the residents of Wilmore re-elect you to city council?
During the past two years I have been consistent in working to lower the tax burden on our citizens. As a city councilman I have served on the Wilmore Community Development Board and the Wilmore Business Association in order to encourage activities that will revitalize our Wilmore business community. I have attended two Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce fact-finding trips to successful cities in Tennessee and Ohio. We were introduced to many ways to improve the economic climate and tourism potential in our own community and I want to continue to work to make Wilmore and Jessamine County a great place to live and work.
What are the major problems facing Wilmore, and what will you do about them?
Financial concerns will certainly continue to be a major issue in the near future. As I mentioned in Question 4, it will be a challenge to work to find ways to reduce spending and decide on necessary budget cuts. I believe that we must work to strengthen our downtown businesses—a city is not really a city unless it has a strong local business community. If we strengthen the business community, we will draw others to visit our city and enjoy its many benefits; there will be more dollars circulating and more business generated, which results in more taxes being collected in a painless, enjoyable way.
What is a strength and/or highlight of Wilmore that you want to encourage, and what do you plan to do to nurture its growth?
Wilmore has Asbury University, where frequent concerts, recitals, and plays are presented. We have a Downtown Green and pavilion where families can enjoy picnics and concerts. Wilmore has a downtown with lots to historic appeal but we need to upgrade existing buildings and recruit more consumer businesses to downtown. When businesses offer items of good quality at a good price our citizens will shop here. A vibrant business district will attract visitors and shoppers from throughout the region.
If you could make an uncontested executive decision to change one thing in Wilmore, what would it be?
I think that Wilmore could greatly benefit from the formation of several development foundations. As mentioned in an earlier question, establishing a foundation to manage, administer, and raise funding for the Wilmore Cemetery could be the solution to that important issue. I think that a development foundation could provide the leadership and develop funding to lead the way on the Crouse Concrete Building and other buildings downtown. Another foundation could solicit funding support the purchase of the old Brumfield Granary and develop it for new uses such as a railroad museum, a Christian heritage museum, art studios, a community center, and retail space.
What government department (fire, police, parks & rec, or other) do you feel needs the most attention, why, and what do you propose to do to address it?
All of our departments (office staff, police, fire, utilities and public works, and parks and recreation) work very hard and are to be commended. That said, I think that most people in those departments would agree that periodic department evaluations could result in a great sense of encouragement and accomplishment, and bring improvements in services to the community.
What would you like to see done with the former “Crouse” building recently purchased by the city?
The Crouse Concrete Building is a very sturdy building that served its owners well over many years. It is a building that was constructed to meet the very specific needs of a concrete business and, therefore, has some areas that are very difficult to renovate for more general space use. I am concerned that the cost of a major renovation of the building could be more than both the demolition of the existing building and the construction of a new office and small business facility. Therefore, I support trying to work with a developer to construct a new building with office and retail space on that site.