At the local level, I don’t believe most decisions are partisan decisions. I plan to represent everyone in the county to the best of my ability. Personally, I’ve considered myself a Conservative Independent. So, Independent seems to fit.
I will work hard to encourage all of the players in economic development (CEDA, Valley Vision, The Chamber of Commerce, the Nez Perce Tribe, the airport, the Port, Beautiful Downtown Lewiston, the county, the business community, the city and others) to work together to support the common goal of a strong local economy by building relationships, regular meetings, and sharing and coordination of activities. I will ensure that Nez Perce County participates and supports those activities. We will also work with the other counties and cities in our region.
I will ensure that the County Commission meets regularly with meaningful agendas to ensure cooperation and coordination of activities. That will include the outlying communities, such as: Peck, Culdesac, Lapwai, Gifford and Lenore. There’s no reason the county shouldn’t conduct some of their commission meetings in those locations making county government more accessible and accepting community input.
We will also include purposeful meetings with the business community and all sized employers, to be sure we are working together.
In my 12 years on the Lewiston City Council property tax increases averaged about 2.33% per year.
Nez Perce County’s property tax increases, including this year’s 0% increase, have averaged about 2.59% per year for the last eleven years.
If we like the county’s 0%, we should really be happy about the city’s reduction of 12% in property taxes for next year.
We would all like good air service with less controversy.
In asking lots of questions from a variety of people, it seems there are a lot of pluses and minuses. It seems like this is one area that needs a “fresh look” to see where we are and where we are going. The first step, in my opinion, is to get the two owners, the city and the county, together to reassess their expectations for the airport. That would include what together they would fund annually. Then some accountability could be established for the airport board based on those clear joint expectations.
I have been working for almost forty years helping individuals, businesses and organizations plan for their future. Nez Perce County does not have a long-term strategic plan. I would work with the other commissioners, elected officials, department heads and employees with public input to create one. Then we can sit down and share our long-term plan, and coordinate with others.
One huge benefit of a long-term strategic plan for Nez Perce County is that it will force us to take a hard look at what has been done; where we are and then prioritize the items that need to be addressed. This would be a great time for that with a new Road and Bridge Director coming on board.
Our county and our region is a great place to live. We have resources: farming, timber, great employers, good weather, Hells Canyon, and great people! Plus with four excellent higher educational institutions and a new Career-Technical Education hub, we have a lot to offer.
While 2020 has been a difficult challenge for everyone, I see it as an opportunity to step back, look at where we are and then decide where we want to go. The Nez Perce County Commission can be a major facilitator in accomplishing that.
Something needs to be done. If you don’t agree, take a courthouse tour yourself – then you’ll agree. The county has been working on a plan for about two years. I think it’s time to involve the community. In the case of the new Lewiston High School, many meetings were held throughout the community for information, questions, input and support. I believe that needs to be accomplished.
The URA, if implemented properly, can be a very good tool for providing needed infrastructure in a community. It’s a method to invest today and reap the rewards (growth) in the future. And remember, growth can help lower the need for increased taxes for everyone.
Unlike other government programs, URA projects end. The county sued the URA and city when the project ended because they wanted their tax revenue back. In 2019 when the county’s jail bond was paid off, they did not reduce the citizens’ property taxes by the amount that was going to jail payments. So it seems the county’s logic for the city would be good for the county too.
Periodically, it is a good idea to look at what you have been doing and how you’ve been doing it. Because “that’s how we’ve always done it” may not still be the best way.
The City and County’s budgets are about $140 million combined. Seems to me, that taking a closer look, cooperating and coordinating, we would be able to find efficiencies and cost savings for all of us.