With two seats open, Indian Trail prepares to vote

INDIAN TRAIL – With less than a month left before the majority of voters cast their ballot to fill the two open seats on Indian Trail Town Council, candidates are working to create a little bit of separation on the key problems they could soon be tasked with solving.

Councilmembers Robert Allen and Darlene Luther opted not to seek re-election this fall, leaving their two seats open for two of the six candidates running. Union County Weekly recently sent questions to all six candidates, asking about town road bond expenditures, business incentives, fees for park usage and more. Candidates responded through email, and Scott Haydel did not respond to emails or phone calls prior to press deadline. Jerry

Morse was granted additional time to answer.

Find more information about the election in Indian Trail and other western Union County towns at www.unioncounty weekly.com.

Gordon Daniels

What initiatives from other area towns would you like to see brought to Indian Trail and how would that help the town?
I believe each town is unique to itself.   Therefore, it would be prudent and respectful to have the residents of Indian Trail create their own initiatives. Indian Trail residents should partake in the planning or strategy process to deal with the town’s problems. They should be involved in the processes that, once taken, determine subsequent events.
One size does not always fit all. One town’s initiatives will not necessarily fit another town’s needs.

Would you be willing to put the town into debt to move forward on the remaining $15 million in road bond projects voters recently approved?
Indian Trail residents have the right and opportunity to determine if the recently approved $15 million bond project needs to be increased. Therefore, the residents will and should determine the amount of financial involvement in a given project.

Would you allow Indian Trail-based athletic associations that have members from outside Indian Trail to use fields at the new park for free, or would you charge for the use?
I recently visited a nearby town’s park, and I did not notice any visitation restrictions regarding residency. I went over to the tennis courts to see if a residency restriction was posted. I did not find one. I called the park’s director and asked the question, “Do you allow all occupants regardless of residency?” Yes was the answer, “because we are a park.”
In general, public parks are open to the public. Unless a park is deemed private (signs, gates and other “tags”), the public views a park as open to the public.

Would you support offering tax incentives or tax breaks to draw new businesses or business expansion in Indian Trail, and if so, what stipulations would you put on the agreement?
In business there is a process called Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA), which is often used by governments and other organizations to evaluate the outcome of a given decision. It is an analysis of the expected balance of benefits and costs. CBA helps predict whether the benefits of a policy outweigh its costs, and by how much relative to other alternatives.
Businesses contribute corporate, real estate and personal property tax revenue. Also, jobs are available, and payroll taxes are generated. Add in the availability of services to the area and you have the benefits of adding businesses to the area. The cost is the offering of tax abatements for a period of time. If the CBA determines the benefits greatly outweigh the cost, the prudent decision would be to offer a tax break with the stipulation that the developer will absorb the cost of maintaining the newly developed land and its surroundings for the duration of the tax abatement.

David Drehs

What initiatives from other area towns would you like to see brought to Indian Trail and how would that help the town?
Indian Trail is so unique with many different neighborhoods that I think it’s hard to find something from another town/city that would work well for us.  As an example:  the public safety committee tried using the animal control law from Waxhaw, and that did not work for us at all.  However, we should certainly look at such initiatives and build on them for our town.

Would you be willing to put the town into debt to move forward on the remaining $15 million in road bond projects voters recently approved?
As much as I dislike incurring debt, the citizens of Indian Trail have made it clear at the ballot box that they want our roads improved.   I would try to ensure that the bond projects go forward efficiently and effectively.

Would you allow Indian Trail-based athletic associations that have members from outside Indian Trail to use fields at the new park for free, or would you charge for the use?
I would allow non-resident members of Indian Trail associations to use the fields at no charge. Our children certainly use the parks in other towns.  I’m in favor of anything that gets our children outside and active.

Would you support offering tax incentives or tax breaks to draw new businesses or business expansion in Indian Trail, and if so, what stipulations would you put on the agreement?
I am not a fan of corporate welfare, but I am a businessman and have run my own business for eight years. Sometimes I have to spend a buck to make a buck and a half. As long as the incentives have performance expectations and time limits, I would support them.

Michael Faulkenberry

What initiatives from other area towns would you like to see brought to Indian Trail and how would that help the town?
Indian Trail has its own identity, and to try to copy initiatives from other area towns could change what the character of Indian Trail is all about. There are many residents, business owners, committee members and town staff in Indian Trail who can provide suggestions to improve the town. Residents who have lived in Indian Trail all their lives and some who have recently moved to Indian Trail, their feedback is what I prefer to listen to because of their life experiences and knowledge, not from a template from another town.

Would you be willing to put the town into debt to move forward on the remaining $15 million in road bond projects voters recently approved?
The key words in this question are “voters recently approved.” I will not override the decisions made by the voters and would honor the will of the voters. If I am elected to a council seat, I am to serve the public and not myself. Do I agree with spending money for roads that belong to the county or state? No, I don’t. Why do we pay such a high state gas tax and have local municipalities still paying more for road improvements? In the near future, Indian Trail will be required to maintain more roads due to federal, state and county budget cuts, which was discussed in a town transportation committee meeting last week. How will Indian Trail fund those extra costs will be the next concern. For Indian Trail to be a more pedestrian-friendly town, Indian Trail will need to add more sidewalks, which there is a large need for, especially near the older housing developments and schools. I am in full support of building more sidewalks in Indian Trail with the existing approved bond. I voted for the sidewalk improvement bond in 2011.

Would you allow Indian Trail-based athletic associations that have members from outside Indian Trail to use fields at the new park for free, or would you charge for the use?
If the associations are based in Indian Trail, it shouldn’t matter where their members are from. The Indian Trail Parks, Greenway and Tree Committee will soon address, with experts from nearby athletic associations, if and what type of fees would be necessary in maintaining the sport fields. Also, who (organizations, associations, clubs, etc.) can and can’t use the sport facilities.  If fees are necessary from all of the athletic associations using the sport fields, then the Indian Trail-based athletic associations as a whole would pay the fee for their use of the fields, not the individuals. It would be the recommendation from the Parks, Greenway, and Tree Committee if waiving fees for Indian Trail-based athletic associations also is an option.

Would you support offering tax incentives or tax breaks to draw new businesses or business expansion in Indian Trail, and if so, what stipulations would you put on the agreement?
This is what I propose for all businesses (old and new) in Indian Trail. Relax some of the ordinances in use now. The Chick-fil-A isn’t allowed to use their cow mascot to advertise their business while standing beside the road because it is considered a walking billboard. Why bother bringing in new businesses in if you are going to impede them from advertising? Another complaint I have received from business owners is not being able to place temporary signs near a road to bring in customers. (That’s important for) businesses located far off of busy highways or blocked by other storefronts.  Business privilege licenses should be the same for all of the same type of businesses. A large retail store pays the same fee as a smaller hardware store that is three times smaller in size. Waive the business privilege license the first three years for new businesses. Defer property taxes the first five years for new businesses to allow them to get well established. How well Indian Trail treats existing and new businesses will then determine business expansion. I encourage town staff to meet with business owners to hear their concerns.

Gary Savoie

What initiatives from other area towns would you like to see brought to Indian Trail and how would that help the town?
I would like to see more of a focus placed on Indian Trail senior citizens.  Some area towns have a group/club that promotes fellowship and activities for their senior citizens.  They have meeting places that engage in many activities for senior citizens of all ages focusing on health and fitness, arts and crafts, various types of classes and picnics/outings.  I also would like to see a formal program set up that engages in frequent dialogue with our school commissioners, ensuring Indian Trail has adequate school facilities for our children, and that we are informed about their long-term strategic plan for our town.  Lastly, I would like to see an established beautification committee focused on the aesthetics of the town which would provide structured ways of keeping up the town’s appearance.  Like surrounding towns, its effectiveness would showcase our town as one that cares about appearance while giving all residents a sense pride in their community.

Would you be willing to put the town into debt to move forward on the remaining $15 million in road bond projects voters recently approved?
The No. 1 issue I hear from constituents is that we need to improve the roads/traffic congestion we face on a daily basis.  My top priority would be to work diligently to improve our infrastructure with a focus on Old Monroe Road, Idlewild Road, Chestnut Parkway and Wesley Chapel Road.  Once these infrastructure issues have been addressed, our citizens will not be so frustrated while commuting around town. We need to ensure the decisions we make with investing in our community pays dividends that benefit Indian Trail residents.  I want to emphasize that the last thing I want to do is raise taxes.  Instead, I would look to the capital reserve fund to assist with these issues with hopes of setting up an action plan to actively monitor the funding of these initiatives.  Using the capital reserve fund provides a good alternative funding source and a way to not raise taxes.  I believe my experience in the financial industry will help in navigating through the financial complexities Indian Trail faces.  I want to make certain we make prudent decisions when it comes to managing debt.

Would you allow Indian Trail-based athletic associations that have members from outside Indian Trail to use fields at the new park for free, or would you charge for the use?
I respect athletic associations such as the Porter Ridge Athletic Association and the Indian Trail Athletic Association.  These associations are dedicated to promoting health among our children and giving them a chance to engage in organized recreation.  The two aforementioned organizations have about 100 teams with well more than 3,000 members. They function as non-profit entities, which are not heavy on cash.  These associations are very good at attracting sponsorships.  I would suggest that we set a minimum of sponsors that these associations should come up with.  The dollars from these sponsorships can go toward improving and maintaining the facilities being used.  I believe everyone will agree that seeing children smiling, laughing and having fun in organized events is worth more than a usage charge.

Would you support offering tax incentives or tax breaks to draw new businesses or business expansion in Indian Trail, and if so, what stipulations would you put on the agreement?
I am a firm believer that Indian Trail needs to find ways to improve our commercial tax base and reduce the burden that is currently placed on our residential taxpayers.   Not only is the reduction of the allocation of residential taxpayers to our tax revenue important, we also need to actively recruit jobs to the Indian Trail area.   If we can increase our commercial tax base and bring jobs to Indian Trial, then I would consider incentives.  I will not support any incentives unless there is some type of claw-back provision for such things as failing to meet investment, operation or employment goals.  I also want to point out that on Page 9 of the 2011 Indian Trail Community Survey, 50 percent of respondents were very supportive, and 33 percent were somewhat supportive of having the town use incentives to attract and expand retail, entertainment, science and technology research and regional office companies to the Indian Trail area.

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