As part of our ongoing effort to inform voters we extend the opportunity to fiscal conservatives to share their message on our platform. This is an LTE first printed in the Hamilton County Reporter on April 9, 2019. His views are his own.
Mark Hall: What does “Protecting Your Money like it was Mine” really mean? Glad you asked…..
If you are reading this, you have been around enough campaigns to become desensitized to their slogans. Too often the tag line is marketing speak designed to create an impression in the voters’ minds. Phrases like “the right experience” and “putting you first” sound great and may be well intended. But when the elected official is in the trenches doing the work for the people, in the abundance of committee, budget, approval and oversight meetings what does that tag line really mean in practice for you and me as average citizens? What is the how behind the slogan? How will the person we elect behave when I’m not watching?
I encourage us to begin by assessing the character of the candidate. Examine what they do and measure that against what they say they will do. If they have a public presence or have been in office previously, you get a quick answer when you measure the words against actions. If not, ask them and evaluate their answer.
Here, presented in practical terms is what I mean when I say that if elected, I will protect your money like it was mine.
1). I will advocate for zero based budgeting. That means each budget cycle we don’t start with “here’s what you spent last year, let’s add 5% to it”. I’ll ask that we start from zero on major expenditure accounts and justify each dollar of expense as if it is new in this budget (because it is). This approach requires justifications, trims fat and fights budget bloat from apathy.
2). I will advocate for specific Expense account assignments for each expense of $5,000 or more. Unfortunately, large municipal budgets like ours in Noblesville don’t always have to account for all their spending. From time to time spending can get co-mingled in a handful of higher-level non-specific accounts. That is not transparent and doesn’t provide the level of accountability that voters deserve to see. I will ask for detail account assignments for spent dollars on any item that impacts the budget by $5,000 or more.
3). Save first spend second. I will bring the same mindset that families use when doing their own budgets around the kitchen table. Once needs are addressed make sure savings are where they need to be before spending on wants.
4). Recognize the difference between a want and a need. Needs come first, followed by wants. Wants are prioritized after the needs are met. Wants might not happen depending on what the reserve balance in savings looks like. Wants are not needs and difficult decisions will need to be made with the right approach and priorities. This is how I will make decisions; needs then savings followed by wants. This approach protects taxpayers first and rarely is popular amongst those that tend to promote pet projects or those who spend first and save second.
5). Protect Taxpayers first. At the top of the needs list are first responders followed by city services. Our wants don’t supersede the safety of our citizens.
6). Capture low hanging fruit. I will work to implement multi-year agreements with our first responders rather than the expensive perpetual negotiation that goes on today with one-year agreements. I will work to create a purposeful and direct channel of communication with the Hamilton County Council to advocate for Noblesville on projects. Today no savings is captured as the two financial approving bodies that impact Noblesville don’t collaborate. Projects like the Pleasant Street expansion, 146th and Allisonville Road construction and State Road 37 improvement project all can offer savings to the taxpayer by direct cross-council communication and advocacy for Noblesville.
7). Plan for the Future. I will advocate for increasing reserves (saving) and the lowering of debt levels beyond that required by state government when measured against our AV (assessed value). I will oppose any creative financing merely to avoid state debt to AV triggers. This includes the leasing of roads or public works projects as a tactic to present a rosier financial picture to the voters and to the State of Indiana oversight. While it may be legal, a smoke and mirrors approach is not transparent to the voters and I will not support it.
I will push for a tracked verifiable return on the investment of taxpayers’ dollars. In particular, the use of tax abatements, the waiving of fees and the use of TIF (Tax Increment Financing). These potentially valuable tools of local government must be used prudently with proper guarantees that insure the protection of taxpayer money and adequate return on investment for the citizens of Noblesville. I will work with the new mayor to be prepared for the continued growth of Noblesville over the decades to come.
These seven guiding philosophies are what I expect of any elected official charged with minding taxpayer money and I expect the same of myself. When you hear from my campaign that I will “protect your money like it was mine” now you know what that looks like.
As citizens of Noblesville we have local city government led by the Mayor and the Common Council comprised of six district and three at large council members. We have local Hamilton County government led by three County Commissioners and the Hamilton County Council comprised of four district and three at large council members. The administration that we elect in 2019 will take on the immediate everyday challenges, but also items which will require planning and additional funding not currently available. The new administration will need and deserve our support and encouragement. Mark Hall is a candidate for Noblesville Common Council in District 1. For more information please visit www.markfhall.com.