Why did you decide to run for office?
I wanted to give back to the community. My family has been in Jackson County for seven generations, so I feel a sense of ownership in the area. I want to make sure we (the city government officials) are making the right decisions for the future so our community will continue to prosper and be a place our children would want to live and raise a family.
What are the three biggest issues the city faces now and in the future? And how would you help address those issues.
How much do we want to grow as a community — and how and where do we want to do it. The city needs to have a serious discussion about growth, an annexation consideration was voted down earlier this year, so I am not sure if the current council has a desire to grow. We have to answer that question.
Infrastructure improvements: Including but not limited to city streets, alleys, and parking lots. A bond issue will be coming soon for infrastructure improvements, we will just have the challenge of prioritizing.
Supporting our local industry from a human resources standpoint: We do a great job with tax credits and abatements, but all of those savings the company’s realize are being eaten up due to turnover and overtime. Once the city comes to terms with growth, we will have to look at some type of tax credits, either property or income, for people who move to Seymour and gain employment. Perhaps a one- or two-year credit, this would help them get established and invest in their property.
The railroad has been a big topic for the city as improvements are being made to the rail infrastructure for more, heavier and faster trains. Are you in favor of a second railroad overpass? Why? How should the city pay for it?
There is a lot of interest in this topic, and I think it will eventually happen. The need for access to the hospital being a big reason, but from a commerce stand point, too. I believe there will be some state and federal funding that will eventually be made available, and the city may have to commit to funding 20 percent of the cost to make it happen.
There has been recent progress on downtown revitalization, but many agree more needs to be done. What do you feel the city can and should be doing to improve our downtown? How much, financially, should the city be involved in revitalizing the downtown?
I don’t think it is really the city’s responsibility to revitalize the downtown from a building standpoint, but what the city can do is make sure we keep the streets clean, well lit, and in good repair, keep sidewalks and curbs in good repair, and make sure there is adequate parking. I feel it has helped that the city has kept its offices downtown, along with the police department, and supporting downtown events like the Oktoberfest, Cars & Guitars Cruise In and City Jam. Maintaining and adding to these type of events will help “sell” the downtown and get people to invest in their properties.
Employee health insurance is one of the biggest costs for the city. Do you feel there is any way the city can help curb those costs? What ways would you suggest?
The city has taken some action with the coming year’s budget by working with Schneck, but I am concerned that it will not be enough. Unfortunately, I think we will have to go to a multi-tier plan, and those employees who do not make healthy lifestyle choices will have to pay higher insurance premiums. While unpopular with employees, this is very common in Corporate America, and will help motivate people to make better choices.
A recent study of the city’s parks and recreation facilities showed the potential need for more soccer and baseball/softball fields and an indoor recreation facility along with a system of multipurpose trails. Do you think these amenities are needed in Seymour? Why? How much should the city be willing to invest in these projects?
While I think it would be great to have these additional amenities, we are living in an era of flat budgets and revenues. A lot of preliminary work has been done on the multipurpose trail program, and I think the city can easily absorb part of the responsibility of constructing and maintaining this program. I just don’t see city funds being available for field expansions or an indoor facility at this time. With the new Seymour High School soccer fields coming on line next year, this will help free up some of the existing Freeman Field soccer fields.
Many people complain about the condition of city streets and roads. Do you feel the city is spending enough money on this work? If not, how do you propose the city raise more money to do this?
The city will most likely be looking at a bond issue in the very near future to spend some serious monies on our roads. It is definitely needed. As the city grows, we will likely have to increase the annual spending on road maintenance, and with city growth, income and tax revenues should grow to support this spending.
Occupation: Branch Manager, AVI Foodsystems
Education: Graduate, Seymour High School, Graduate Indiana University School of Business, Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting
Family: Wife -Shawna, Son – Brandon, Daughter – Morgan. Parents – the late Ray (Smokey)Boas and Wilma Boas Murphy.
Memberships: (Church, organizations, professional) Member of St. Ambrose Church, Chairman of St. Ambrose Building and Grounds Committee