UPDATE…ROCK HALL VOTERS UNITED…CANDIDATES QUESTIONNAIRE: RESPONSES
Question #1: What will you do to ensure that Rock Hall keeps its four-officer police force?
Beth Andrews: The safety of the citizens of Rock Hall compels the council to adequately provide the financial resources necessary to maintain the current staffing of the police force. The council is required, under the town code, to establish and maintain a police department to provide for the safety and security of the citizens. A reduction in the police department would not meet the standard set forth in the code.
Timothy Edwards: I feel very strongly that the police force is vital to the safety of this town. The first thing I feel needs to be done is to look at the overall budget of the police—are there ways to trim the budget and make minor cuts that do not decrease our force? Let’s look at where the problems are and what can we do to support the police and correct issues.
WITHDRAWN…Jack Jester: As a former police chief of Rock Hall, I understand the importance of maintaining an active police force. I promise to work to maintain our current level of police protection or more if need be.
David Mayne: Without more clarity around the issue, I don’t view this as the correct question. The question in my mind should be: “How will you maintain the public safety of our citizens if the current police force staffing is reduced?” There are a number of measures that can be taken to ensure safety is sustained, such as negotiating coverage with the sheriff or the state police, rehire if this is a retirement and so on. Outsourcing has been done in the past be other townships and has merit. That being said I need to better understand the issue at hand before I can formulate a plan of action.
WITHDRAWN…Leonard Milewski: Every effort need be made to preserve the size of the police force to continue maximum protection. The budget need be assessed to see where shifts can be made to ensure this. Answers need be honestly given regarding this issue as the last township meeting featured a dispute between the police chief and Town Council on this
Allen Riley: I understand the importance of maintaining an active police force. I promise to work to maintain an active police force at our current level.
Charles Price: No response.
Question #2: What will you do to strengthen Rock Hall’s overall financial health and stability?
Beth Andrews: I would demand disclosure of financial information in order to assess accurately the current financial condition of the town. It is only after that happens that areas of concern can be identified and a plan can be developed.
Timothy Edwards: Again, the first thing that needs to be done is to evaluate the entire town budget. Where is the money going, how is it coming in, are there ways to trim or cut some costs, and we need to look for ways to generate income. Such as all the events the town puts on costs the town money, but with little return investment, how can we improve this?
WITHDRAWN…Jack Jester: As far as I can tell in the short time I have served, the town appears to be in a good financial position at this time. We are all aware that the cost of running a town continues to increase year after year. If and when the time comes that we need additional revenue, I will support an increase to allow the town to grow.
David Mayne: After careful consideration of the matter, I view our current financial situation as a direct byproduct of the downturn in the housing market. Home values have decreased over the last 7 years, which means tax revenue goes down with the assessed value of the properties. The current council and management should be commended for their efforts during a trying financial period. This decline, coupled with the deterioration in the general appearance of the town due to issues like poorly executed repairs, and blighted homes and business units, have made sustaining a sound revenue surplus extremely challenging. To solve this will require a great deal of cooperation and discipline from residents and businesses alike. We need to enforce our ordinances, while working with the community to clean up the blighted home and business locations. We need to partner with surrounding communities and leverage both our events and resources, along with those of our prospective partners, working to achieve the goal of making Rock Hall a destination town. We must improve the “curb appeal” and provide an experience and small town charm that tourists want to repeat. We must also be vigilant and thrifty, saving money and resources where possible, through contract negotiation, sound vendor management practices, and thoughtful spending.
WITHDRAWN…Leonard Milewski: New businesses need be attracted to the area and aesthetic changes need be made to attract visitors in a similar manner to such towns as St. Michaels. I believe town funds could be enhanced by having a town-run refreshment stand for the crowds at the beach. Further coordination need be done to further develop the harbor area
Allen Riley: We are all aware that the cost of running a town continues to increase year after year. If and when the time comes that we need additional revenue, I will do what’s best in order to allow the Town to continue to meet its needs.
Charles Price: No response.
Question #3: What will you do to maintain and upgrade Rock Hall’s infrastructure?
Beth Andrews: It is difficult to prioritize the needs given the information available currently. As a citizen I am concerned about the quality of water in the town—even after the installation of a new clarifier. The first priority will be to understand the magnitude of the problems. That information will help determine how best to tackle and resolve the problems.
Timothy Edwards: As a recently retired town employee, I am well aware of the issues with the infrastructure. First, I would like to put a meter at the town and county connection to register the amount of water that goes through, and not do it by EDU. I think we need to bring the sewer plant up to par, by looking into the grants we can get to do this. And we need to evaluate the streets and drainage to find the best ways to repair, and again look into any available funding
WITHDRAWN…Jack Jester: The town needs to be applauded for taking the appropriate steps to replace some aging infrastructure. I will continue to support upgrading the town’s infrastructure as needed.
David Mayne: This question is largely a financial question. The current council and management have successfully completed the water treatment plant upgrade, which was no small task. The teammembers are to be commended for the success of that project. Fiber connectivity will be in our town soon, and we need to leverage that in our public and tourism locations. These initiatives along with the ongoing waterfront project go a long way to meeting several needs within the community. Many of the improvements that are needed are process oriented. We need to execute repairs in a timely fashion, using long-term solutions that showcase the pride we all take in our town. This may require an extra dollar at the time of the repair, but will pay dividends over time when the same repair does not require a repeat visit.
WITHDRAWN…Leonard Milewski: I believe an infrastructural change would be a dredging of the harbor with mooring balls to attract boaters to town. It would bring people to the heart of town to shop for provisions and groceries and easy access to the tram. It would increase business to the restaurants and shops and provide revenue for use of mooring balls.
Allen Riley: I will continue to support upgrading the Town’s infrastructure as needed. From what I read and hear, the Town has been and is in the process of making some extensive repairs to its infrastructure.
Charles Price: No response.
Question #4: What do you think is the biggest problem facing Rock Hall right now, and how will you address it?
Beth Andrews: All of the topics listed in the questions above are major concerns and require immediate attention—these are all very concrete examples of problem areas for the town. But, there is something intrinsically wrong that also needs to be addressed: lack of transparency and disclosure by town officials. This deficiency causes lack of trust and collaboration—we all live in the town and we all should be working together to make it better.
Timothy Edwards: I feel a major issue is that we need to be accountable to the citizens of this town. If you make a mistake, own up to it, make it right and move on. I think we need to work with our employees, this is one of the strengths of this town and they know this town. This includes listening to the employees concerns and comments, as well as reviewing the outdated personnel policy. I feel another problem is the town has not kept up with the times, and now is financially strapped. I like to look at all sides of a problem to try to come up with a fair solution—not everything is clear-cut.
WITHDRAWN…Jack Jester: The Town of Rock Hall has definitely become a seasonal town which creates a problem for our young people to find full-time work. I will always work to try and bring some type of year-round employment to the Rock Hall area.
David Mayne: Did not respond.
WITHDRAWN…Leonard Milewski: The drug problem is a plague to Rock Hall. It is dangerous and degrading to the town and is literally killing our residents. If necessary, state and/or federal agencies need be utilized and invited to arrest and convict anyone dealing illicit drugs, using whatever means necessary.
Allen Riley: I think the biggest problem facing the Town is the lack of jobs for the young people of the Town. I will work hard to bring jobs to the area.
Charles Price: No response.