I’m sharing responses to questions I receive from residents while campaigning.
I loved this question from someone I met yesterday! Here’s an expanded version of what I said as we chatted in her driveway.
In my vision, the most important role of local government is providing services, and I’ve focused on this aspect throughout my tenure on Council. Amberley’s excellent services are due in significant part to residents understanding the connection between resources and results. In particular, residents passed the police levy in 2012 and then renewed at lower millage in 2017. This levy provides critical funding to our police department, and they require every bit of it to maintain the caliber of staffing and law enforcement capabilities that Amberley residents rely upon. Under the leadership of Chief Wallace, the entire department contributes to creative use of resources and innovation for the Village’s benefit. As a consolidated department, all officers are cross-trained in police and firefighting duties, an approach that minimizes expenditures and maximizes quick and effective response. Though perhaps less visible (except during snow events!), our maintenance department exhibits the same ethic of resourcefulness. Plus, they contribute to public safety as firefighters too.
My vision as a Council member includes keeping an eye on the long-term sustainability of the Village along with the emphasis on day-to-day services. Amberley has been proactive in this regard, especially for a municipality of its size. In 2012-13, Council engaged worked with a local consultant to create a financial sustainability plan that identified capital needs in every area of the village operations and projected revenues and expenses. Updated by staff in 2016, it has been a valuable guide for Council, particularly highlighting needed road projects. In addition, our village manager and mayor presented about it at local government events in the area as a model for others.
More recently, a local city administrator received a grant to conduct research on the first-ring suburbs around Cincinnati, which includes Amberley. He presented some of his findings to the Finance Committee in August, and it provided us an interesting, sobering context. Across the nation, suburbs that grew up in the mid-20th century are now experiencing a perilous combination of aging housing stock, declining population, and increased poverty. Fortunately, the research showed Amberley holding its own compared to many of our local peers. Our property tax base is lower by 3.13% compared to before the 2008 crash, which is ahead of the county-wide decline of 4.4%. (25 of 33 first suburbs in Hamilton County have a lower property tax value now than a decade ago.) The data showed an increase in our population and negligible poverty. Phase II of this research will look at best practices by first suburbs across the Midwest to reverse or arrest decline.
Patience with Process (and each other)
When I first joined Council, the then-mayor told me, “The wheels of government turn slowly.” This caution has come to mind so often, especially these days in relation to the Amberley Green, and my experience over the years has demonstrated that slowness of process can be a strength. Government processes take time for transparency, input, and deliberation. Right now the Village is in the middle of a process with the JCC regarding their potential use of acreage at Amberley Green for their summer day camp. There’s a concept plan and lots of discussion underway, including with residents, but few or no decisions as of yet. Things might seem disorganized or unclear, but in reality, the process is unfolding in a slow but methodical manner that may not be evident at first glance. My vision for re-election includes seeing the process through with an open mind, critical thinking, and careful listening to all stakeholders. I am confident the process is a sound one that will lead to the right outcome for the Village.
Paid for by Conway for Council