Budget, Mount Pleasant Center main issues for commission candidates
A similar vision and concern for issues facing Mount Pleasant and its residents is shared by the three candidates filling three spots on the Mount Pleasant City Commission.
Jon Joslin, Rick Rautanen and Matt Sous all agreed that managing the city’s budget and looking at revenue sources is a main concern as they prepare to continue serving, or in Sous’ case, join the commission following this election.
“I sound like a broken record, but we need to maintain our current services that residents desire without a huge tax increase,” Joslin said. “We’re facing declining revenue, or more accurately, stable revenue, but our costs seem to go up. Balancing the budget is a must.”
The current city commission will have to balance the 2013 budget by December, making up for a $500,000 gap.
Sous said he hopes the future commission will be able to figure out how to close similar gaps, get out of a deficits and make Mount Pleasant’s finances more stable.
The discussion of a possible income tax to help balance the budget is something Rautanen knows is a “major hot button issue.”
Rautanen said it is the duty of the commission to explore all possible alternative sources of revenue or determine what needs to be cut to balance the budget
“We have a lot of homework to do in terms of what does the future hold for revenue and expenses for the city, and the delicate act of balancing the two,” Rautanen said.
The development of the Mount Pleasant Center is another matter of importance to the candidates.
In 2011, the city purchased the more than 300 acre piece of property from the state for $1.
Deciding what will become of the property is something the commission will be dealing with for many years to come, Rautanen said.
“It’s something that even the current commission will be looking at over course of next few years, and that’s just a foot in door,” he said. “The entire project will probably be between a 10 and 20 year project. It’s an exciting time with lots of options.”
Rautanen said it is important to develop the property in a way that benefits the whole community, a statement echoed by Sous.
“It’d be great to have the center be a way to produce more jobs and I think that’s possible,” Sous said. “We need to work on making it more of an asset for the entire community.”
Joslin said job creation, attracting new, diverse businesses and offering services to residents is a necessity to making the community more vibrant.
“I really want us to be a community where people want to be, and that entails attractive jobs, a good parks system, activities for kids, safe neighborhoods and a multitude of entertainment and food options; these are things proven over and over again that citizens desire,” Joslin said. “We do a good job now, but we can always do better.”
Increasing sustainability for the city is a way the candidates believe will draw more people to the community.
A bikeable and walkable will be a goal all three men hope to work toward while on the commission.
“That can attract more people and families. It makes us a healthier community,” Rautanen said. “A bikeable and walkable direction is something that the city commission and local leaders have taken over years, and continues to make strides in.”
Extending the curbside recycling program to renters, not just homeowners is something Sous hopes to look into.
In the coming years, Sous expects more people to move to cities like Mount Pleasant because of the increasing costs of living outside city limits.
“With prices going up, I believe people are thinking about living closer to work, and with two major employers near our community, that’s very likely for us,” Sous said. “I think we need to prepare for the next steps for our community to make sure we’ve thought ahead.”
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