Relevant Gastonia Issues
So what are the issues that the City of Gastonia is facing and why should you care. The answer that gets most people's attention is because it can affect your wallet or pocketbook. A municipalities' main responsibilities to its citizens are for protection and safety. Outside of those two main responsibilities a municipality can be involved in many areas and taxes and fees are assigned accordingly. The cost of additional services is passed on to the taxpayer or persons requiring the service.
Optional services are often a debate in many communities as not everyone agrees on what they want their city to be responsible for or how much they want their city involved. In Gastonia, beyond safety and protection, the city also runs an electrical service and also provides water and sewer. In the not so distant past we added a Conference Center and the city also manages things such as road maintenance, housing grants, and planning functions for state and federal programs available to our citizens.
The city does not manage or control your county taxes, the school system, or health related
issues such as Medicare, Medicaid, and programs such as EBT. Gastonia does not run or
manage the Animal Shelter or the Gaston County Courts. It is important to know where
your taxes are being spent and who is responsible for spending the money.
Below I have listed some issues that I believe are very important for the City of Gastonia and
I have provided my opinion on how these issues should be handled. Please feel free to
contact me to discuss these issues in greater detail or to share with me what issues you feel
are important. I am here to represent the citizens and your input is critical to my decision
making process. Be involved and let me hear from you.
City Services (Code Enforcement, Solid Waste, Building Inspections, etc)
The services listed above are just a few of the many services that Gastonia offers that are more often than not restricted by state and federal laws and regulations. A municipality is powerless to change other governmental oversight but we can make every effort to provide a quality service that enhances the user experience and does not add any additional burden to the user. Fees should be kept to minimum and each user should be treated with honesty, respect, and professionalism. In 2014, with the help of Councilwoman Craig of Ward VI, I created a task force to review our policies regarding the building community and to make recomendations to the city staff and council in which the interaction with the city could be made better. I am proud to say that this collection of industry professionals has been meeting regularly and has already made several recommendations that were implemented. During this time the city has received multiple compliments regarding the improvement of the services offered and the manner in which they are implemented. This is an area that we can continue to improve and enhance to help strengthen the economy in Gastonia.
The housing inventory in Gastonia is aging rapidly and new construction of residential property is not keeping pace. Often, a new company that is looking to open or relocate will evaluate the available housing inventory to determine if what is available is something their employees will accept and enjoy. We must be more vigilant in promoting the different areas of Gastonia that have the potential for new growth and support infill for residential housing. Projects such as the Loray Mill renovation are wonderful but only come around so many decades. The city must determine areas of potential growth and plan accordingly so that we are prepared for the growth. Often, the housing industry is viewed as a key economic indicator for a municipality or region. Gastonia must revive its residential building community and support its growth. Programs that encourage infill development can help economically distresses neighborhoods and with small options such as waived utility connection fees we can spur this development. We need to continue to explore new and innovative ideas that will help in this area. At the end of the day, if we expand and help elevate housing values then we all can pay a little less.
I am proud to say that we are starting to at least see the corner if we have yet to turn it. After years of recruiting and a lot of hard work to try and spur new residential building in Ward 4, we now have multiple builders starting new construction and the most important thing is that they are selling the homes at market rate. This not only improves housing, it helps bring up property values which is one of the economic factors that businesses and retailers, such as grocers, look at when locating their stores.ing
Safety for the citizens of Gastonia is a first priority. All of our citizens must feel safe in their homes and communities and they must know in a time of need that the response will be quick and accurate. In 2015 the city was experiencing some growing pains and at the same time trying to manage and balance a budget that had seen stagnant property values. I am proud to say we have added positions to our police force that has enabled us to reform our narcotics units also known as the "gray shirts". We are currently also adding positions to our traffic units to try and respond to some of the complaints of speeding and other traffic violations. BY adding the specialized positions, other officers are freed up to answer citizen calls more quickly and also concentrate on our community officers to make sure involvement with the community is kept in place.
The addition of body cameras for every officer has also been a big feature I am proud to say in now fully in place. This not only protects the public, but also our officers and can eliminate many false claims regarding interactions between the police and the public.
There will always be changes and moving parts within a public safety department but Gastonia has some of the finest men in blue in the country and we will continually try to make them even better!
Economic and Employment Opportunities
I do not believe it is the role of any government to create jobs. It certainly should not be the creation of jobs through buearacracy and governmental programs. A government can, however, work with the private sector to develop strategic goals and blueprints for growth and job creation. Many public-private ventures can spur economic growth and if implemented correctly, can add sustainable employment for its citizens. One must be careful not to invest blindly in any project or plan that involves hard earned tax payer dollars. A city's budget should not be used to gamble recklessly to the detriment of its citizens. Gastonia must continue to pursue these private partnerships to enhance our tax base and create opportunities for our citizens. We must also work with the other municipalities and governments in our area to build a strong and competitive region.
The FUSE project is one such project that with private investment will be a driving force for employment and revitalization of the western portion of our downtown and also Ward 4. Already we are seeing evidence of this with private development of the Trenton Mill and also interest from the private sector for development such as retail and hotel. A recent announcement of the addition of over 100 residential units to our downtown was credited to the building of FUSE and the investments of the city. The developer stated that the fact that the city believed in itself enough to invest showed that they could be cwith their investment as well.
Other projects such as the Hwy 7 Corridor study will insure that we continue to growth and development in Ward 4 and the rest of the city. These are projects I am proud to be a part of and will have a positive impact on the city for generations to come.
As Gastonia grows and maintains it's position as a smaller metroplitan area that is Charlotte adjacent, we are going to have to push the envelope with new ideas that keep us relevant and current. In order to grow our tax base and continue a high level of service we are going to have to be adaptive and innovative so that we do not become just another economic wasteland that yearns for the successful past once enjoyed. Gastonia has a very robust and diverse mix of citizens that when working together can achieve almost anything. Gastonia must embrace its diversity, learn to settle issues amicably, and continue moving forward. Our history is a proud one and we must build on that and prepare for the future.
If you have questions regarding any of the items I have discussed above or you would like my views regarding other issues please just contact me via the contact page on this website and I will be glad to discuss any topics that you wish to.