Revenue commissioner office on ballot

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Now that the qualifying deadline has passed it is time to discuss the issues.

This year, the two major issues that will be addressed by candidates for the County Commission are road conditions and the possibility of a new jail.

Though a great deal of work has been done on the existing jail, the need for a more modern facility cannot be ignored.

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The existing commission has been able to generate the funds that will be needed to make the new jail a reality.

However, it will be up to the new commission to make it happen.

Current Commission Chairman Jesse McWilliams felt that in the near future the jail would take center stage.

&uot;A jail over the next four years will definitely be something we are working toward,&uot; said McWilliams. &uot;We just have to budget our money so that we can take care of other things too.&uot;

It will be important for the incoming commission to keep up the momentum gained by the existing members.

So far they have raised $1.06 million for a jail fund. The fund was built completely from scratch and has continued to make money.

The last commission pushed for an increase in court costs, which have built the fund to its current level.

The big issue for the incoming members will be to make the money work for a jail while saving money to operate it.

&uot;What is needed is for the money to be saved to pay for the jail,&uot; said McWilliams. &uot;But we also want to use what is left to help with the difference and operating costs.&uot;

Road conditions are another major issue that the voters will question.

When they look at the existing candidates and their opponents, voters will ask themselves &uot;are we better off than we were four years ago?&uot;

Voters will also ask, &uot;Where will we be four years from now?&uot;

County Engineer Dennis McCall felt that the existing commission has done a good job with the funds that have been allotted.

&uot;They put in a very aggressive five-year plan when they came in,&uot; said McCall. &uot;We are in the fourth year of that plan and we are still on schedule.&uot;

Of the 150 miles of roadway that were in need of repair, 45 have currently been repaired.

The current commission was also responsible for helping to secure the Garvey Bond Issue, which has helped to repair 14 bridges across Butler County.

McCall felt that these bridges were huge because they helped to bring industry to the area.

&uot;That is one of the first things that they look for when trying to find a location,&uot; said McCall. &uot;They want to see a good infrastructure.&uot;

The industry that has been attracted by the work of the current commission may make things tough for the incoming commission.

New demands will be needed along with the new factories.

Turn lanes as well as red lights will have to be added in some areas.

The next commission will be asked to do much more with the same amount of funds.

&uot;Funds are based on population,&uot; said McCall. &uot;We will see a growth in population but the demands will come before the growth. That means that the incoming commission will have to do more with the same funds that the current commission has. That will be a major issue.&uot;

These voters get the answer to that question every day by commuting on Butler County roadways.

The expected countywide industrial growth will add another dimension to the election.

With the expected growth of Butler County over the coming years this topic will be very important to Butler County voters.

Roads will be needed and needed fast. Many voters will hope that attention to their existing roads will not be lost in the shuffle.

With the new commission a new position will be put into place.

Finally, voters will get to decide on June 1 if the county should abolish the tax assessor and tax collector offices.

Both offices would be combined under the title of revenue commissioner.

Those currently holding the jobs have voiced no opposition for the creation of this position.

&uot;I think that this will be a good thing for the county,&uot; said Tax Collector Carolyn Middleton. &uot;Most of the other counties have already gone to this format and we are one of the last to do it.&uot;

Tax Collector Belle Peavy also liked the move.

&uot;I think that this will be a positive move for the county,&uot; said Peavy. &uot;This will make things a lot easier for the tax office by having one person take care of everything. It will just be easier for everybody.&uot;

Though the creation of this position may seem to be a cutback of some sorts it is not.

It is important to note that if voters do agree to the new office, both of the longtime county administrators will complete their terms before the office goes into effect.

Both ladies were took their oaths of office again in November 2003, so it could be 2006 before the change takes effect.

Both Middleton and Peavy’s terms in their respective positions will be up by that time.

Peavy did say that if one of them decided to retire or had to leave office, the change to revenue commissioner would become immediate.

As far as the cutting of other positions in the upcoming year, they seem to be safe.

When the June primaries come around the voter’s will filter all these issues into one category…loyalty.

How the candidate’s address these issues will let the voters know whom they feel the most comfortable with.

Voters will look for a candidate who will continue to look out for their interests while improving the community.