Marshall County is blessed with many assets that should make us attractive to new business. We have major highways that lace the county, direct access to the river, a port, skilled labor, quality of life and land that can be developed. I feel we are not being marketed properly. Look at the recent announcements of new business in Calloway and McCracken Counties. Those jobs should be coming home to us.
Texas has the fastest growing economy among all states in the country. They are doing it by minimizing paperwork, expediting approvals and offering tax incentives. We need to work with our federal and state representatives, develop policies that are inviting to new business and offer them a reason to come to Marshall County. It would be great if new business could be attracted without tax incentives, but we should never lose sight of the fact that the tax loss from the incentive is offset by payroll taxes, real estate taxes and the money new employees spend.
While we are at it, we should be pro-business with our current major employers. They have invested in our county long-term. We should be doing everything we can to support any planned expansions that will result in new employment.
Several of my supporters that are local union members have voiced their concerns about House GOP members putting Right-to-Work legislation at the top of their priorities list in the General Assembly. I share their concerns. Nine of my siblings and I were raised on union wages. I’ve benefited from collective bargaining for many years as an officer with the Paducah Police Department. I have many close friends in local chapters who are raising their families on union wages.
Unions in Marshall County have a long history of working successfully with many of our businesses and corporations. You only have to look to Calvert City to see these successful relationships. Those chemical plants have been operating profitably and safely with union labor for many, many years.
Right-to-work legislation is far more about degrading a union’s bargaining power than it is an employee’s freedom to choose as some would have you believe. That’s why I will never support Right-to-Work legislation in the state of Kentucky, and I will voice my opposition to that sort of legislation each time an opportunity presents itself.
To be clear, I do not consider this position contrary to my pro-business platform; I believe strong unions and strong relationships between unions and businesses have been vital to American productivity, creativity, growth, and quality of life for generations. With good will and continued cooperation, this can still be the case.
Elected officials who truly care about their community do not choose between labor and business, but find ways to support both and improve the lives of every citizen in our community. I will not neglect the needs of laborers anymore than I would the needs of our vital local businesses. After all, one hand washes the other—that’s something we’ve always understood here in Marshall County.
Your government should be completely transparent. You have the right to know what issues are being voted on, what your county budget is and how much money is being spent against each budgetary line. All of this information should be published on the county website. Currently this information is only available on the the state’s website. I believe that a transparent county government should be open and clear in all things. You should not have to search a large, confusing statewide website to determine how your dollars are being spent and whether our budget forecast is accurate.
It has been said that there are two things you can count on in life: death and taxes. The former is true, but as a citizen you should have every assurance that the tax rate you pay covers the reasonable exposures the county anticipates. It should also make sure every expense will be county-related, necessary and the best quality and price for the requirements you face.
I will hold myself and all department heads responsible for the requirements listed above. This will help assure you that every penny you entrust to the Marshall County Government will be spent wisely. I will seek to reduce the rate through sound financial planning when and where possible.
Special Purpose Government Entities (SPGEs)
Counties are faced with many expenses that are borne by the citizenry through fees and taxes. I believe that every penny the citizens of Marshall County pay to the county should meet at least two tests: Are the expenses necessary? Is there a better way of generating expenses and thereby doing it better and for less? I will review all of our expenses with the above comments in mind.
There are expenses that are not common to the entire county and therefore, historically, are not paid by the citizens of the entire county. Only a group of local citizens are impacted. This could be local water / sewer districts or volunteer fire departments. This is true of almost every county, and for years they have been referred to as Special Taxing Districts. Since revenue and expenses are not typically included in the county budget, there are no set audit procedures that assure that your tax dollars are equal to the need and then spent with integrity.
I believe that Special Taxing Districts make sense, are fair in concept but should be subject to audit. They should then be terminated when the requirement is met and the collections and expenditures are subject to transparency.
I am pleased to tell you the Kentucky General Assembly, in its last session, passed HB 1. This bill changed the name of Special Taxing Districts to Special Purpose Government Entities (SPGEs) that impose registry requirements and a stringent audit process that holds the leaders of the SPGE and the county government accountable.
This was long overdue and a positive development for Marshall County and all of Kentucky. I will see that it is strictly enforced.
My wife and I try to anticipate large expenditures and save in order to pay cash for the requirement. I believe government should be run the same way. When we planned for a large expenditure, such as the purchase of a house, we saved as much as possible in order to place a large down payment and then implement a budgetary process that would eventually allow us to pay off the expenditure well in advance of the term of the loan. This enabled us to vastly reduce the interest we paid, and we will save money when the loan is paid off. Your government should be doing the same thing with your money. I will implement this approach. We may still have to issue bonds periodically, but we will seek to minimize the amount and term. I will also have all existing bonds reviewed in order to determine whether we can pay them off, accelerate payments or reissue at lower interest rates and shorter terms.
Every line-item of the Marshall County budget will be subject to annual review to determine whether they can be eliminated or reduced. Nationally, we are in tough economic times, and I am certain this has caused you to tighten your budget in order to eliminate or reduce expenses – your government should do the same. The fact that a government can tax to maintain spending levels does not mean it should.