Office sought: City Council
1. Why are you seeking election/re-election; and is successful, what are your three primary goals and how do you propose to address them?
2. The health of our area economy is always a concern to REALTORS. What will you to Advocate for economic development and small businesses?
One major concern is the rapid increase of our tax rate. The city’s tax rate (.85 per hundred) is 15% higher than the county’s tax rate (.74 per hundred). City’s total meal tax is 12.3%, County is 9.3%.
Mass development is happening on the city’s eastern boundaries due to less expensive land prices, lower taxes and less restrictive zoning. The city needs to be competitive with our neighbors to attract and retain businesses into our city. Additional proposed tax increases can have a very negative impact on economic development and small businesses. With the ability to access information on the internet versus having to go to the court house, many professional services may consider locating to the county. Lowering or eliminating the BPOL tax could be a significant incentive to keep businesses in the city.
3. Affordable housing is a major concern for many area families. What do you support to help ease the housing crunch for local workforce families, and are there any steps that government can take to alleviate homelessness?
During my previous terms on councils, we expanded zoning alternatives to provide more flexibility in development. Floor height restriction were modified to encourage building up versus out, in recognition that open land was becoming more scarce. Economic development zones were designated with incentives to encourage development downtown.
Unfortunately, our wages and income in this area have not kept pace with the increases in taxes and city services. MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME IS THE 37TH LOWEST AT $41,636 in 2016, . MEDIAN INCOME HAS RISEN ONLY 1.35% FROM 2007-2016.
There is a shortage of skilled labor in our area that could provide a decent paycheck and opportunities that could include homeownership. This needs to be addressed through educational options in our school system.
Homelessness is a growing local and national concern. We are fortunate in Harrisonburg to have many partners that have been working for many years to identify, implement strategies and plans to end homelessness in the city. On August 23, I attended the Mayor’s 2nd Forum on Homelessness. We have many faith based organizations, community leaders and concerned citizens that are invested in finding solutions to this growing problem.
4. Fair Housing programs are critical to a community because they provide an opportunity to those that face resistance to residency with an opportunity to secure a home. How can we work together to incorporate fair housing programs into the area?
There are Federal Laws and Virginia State Laws that provide protection and fairness to renters and homeowners. Although, I am unaware of any significant abuses or unfair practices, if this is occuring they should be reported and investigated.
There are concerns from homeowners that zoning laws are not being adhered to in residential neighborhoods were single families homes are being purchased and turned into student or high density rentals, which is against zoning ordinances. These abuses must be thoroughly investigated by staff to protect citizens and neighborhoods.
High real estate taxes are a direct impact on homeowners purchasing power.
City homeowners are seeing increases in their mortgage payments due to the 44% tax rate increase over the last 6 years, plus a steady increase in home assessment.
Keeping property taxes and interest rates low are a boom for the community.
5. As an Association representing 400 REALTOR and affiliate members who live and work in the community, what role do you see HRAR playing in housing issue discussions and how can the Association work with you to improve the community?
Realtors can and should bring any ideas, feedback, concerns or suggestions for review or change to our current ordinances, statues and zoning laws to City Council. Government at the community level needs many partners to establish vision, goals and good policy.
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