County Councilman responds to GOP Chair
Thursday, September 19, 2013 10:01 PM
After reading Mr. John Pickerill's article, "Today's government legalizes plunder," I am moved to respond.
John Frey is a Republican Montgomery County Council Representative. He is Chairman of the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Commission. He contributed his column to The Paper of Montgomery County.
The Paper of Montgomery County has afforded some public officials the opportunity to author articles that appear in a series of columns in their Monday edition. Mr. Pickerill has taken full advantage of that forum, and has offered up many of his personal opinions, platforms, and strategies-faithfully signing off under the title of Montgomery County GOP Party Chair. By nature of this arrangement, one might think that Mr. Pickerill's personal opinions are completely factual and representative of the collective opinions of our local Republican Party. It is my belief that many of your elected officials and citizens would dispute both.
It is not my intent to address point-by-point each of Mr. Pickerill's opinions, but to give a view of the inner workings of local government that he obviously doesn't understand, either due to his lack of experience, or an unwillingness to learn as a result of his disdain for government as a whole?
While the Declaration of Independence served as a powerful assertion of the people to choose their own government independent of Great Britain, it was very soon after America claimed victory when it became evident that a stronger central government was needed to remain stable, thus initiating a system of checks and balances outlined in the Constitution. So, while we hold in high regard the catchy phrase stating that among our inalienable rights are, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," let us not forget that this phrase is followed by, "that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." While no one wants to see abuse of our resources, it is important to review each situation individually. To say that all government opportunities are evil at the expense of our citizens, would be as obtuse as stating that Mr. Pickerill's views applaud anarchy.
Local government is made up of citizens that - that for the most part - "volunteer" their time and effort to make the decisions needed to operate and administer the services our citizens have decided are valued. The citizens pay for the cost of these services. There are many variables involved in determining the manner in which the cost of these services, are paid. Thrift, when budgeting, is an example of cutting or reducing total revenues needed to match the desired services. When the overall cost of services out-paces revenues, there must be a decision made as to whether one cuts services or increases revenues. Increasing revenues can be done by increasing the amount government takes from the citizens (taxes) or by raising the tide of our whole community, by growing opportunities for business and industry to locate here and employ our citizens. It is my personal belief that increasing taxes just to sustain a level of services to which our citizens have become accustom, is not the right approach. Furthermore, community feedback indicates that the majority of the people I represent concur. That said, it is my objective to attempt to "raise the tide" by promoting and incenting business and industry to not only locate, but thrive in our community.
As stated earlier, most public servants are just that: servants - not full-time administrators. If we are to react favorably, when a new business or industry knocks on our door, we need to be certain we, at least, have someone in place to open the door! That is not to say that we should stand idle at the door and wait for opportunity to find us. Our community has an abundance of potential. The possibilities are continually being identified, benchmarked, and evaluated. I have seen this firsthand with my involvement with the county council, the convention and visitors commission, and economic development. It would be derelict of me or any other elected official to ignore these opportunities.
Instead, we strive to have agents pro-actively searching for business and industry to locate in our community. Likewise, we have found great potential within the companies that are already at home in Montgomery County. These existing business entities are responsible for the significant growth we are currently enjoying, and I feel it is both good and right to incent this internal growth. MCED's role is vital, as it serves as the primary ambassador for attracting, advocating, and escalating our business community. To believe that any part-time public servant could adequately fulfill these responsibilities would be asinine.
Mr. Pickerill remarked, with disapproval, that the City of Crawfordsville is using $150,000 to help secure new ownership of the old Culver Hospital. However, this structure has continually depreciated in value under the previous ownership and has jeopardized an entire neighborhood. While $150,000 may seem like a lot of money, maybe we should focus on the cost to our city if the structure were to be condemned and demolished? It would make $150,000 look like a bargain.
Furthermore, Mr. Pickerill states that government grants and funds should not be used to benefit our local businesses, for community promotion, educational opportunities, or even to enhance our local fire and police departments. Has Mr. Pickerill conducted a study to support his views that these programs and services offer no value to the overall sustainability of our community? We don't care to see small businesses thrive? We don't want to afford more opportunities for education? We don't want to entice more job, recreation, and shopping opportunities? We don't want adequate emergency services? Does Mr. Pickerill truly believe it is in the best interest of our citizens to refuse to take advantage of opportunities that could directly benefit our community? Does he think that refusing to go after these funds will somehow reduce or eliminate our personal tax obligations? Most of us would prefer to base our opinions on facts rather than conjecture, and would reserve the right to define "plundering" as something much more savage and sinister than hard-working officials taking full advantage of opportunities to improve the quality of life for Montgomery County residents.