Where they Stand county council John Myers

What experience do you have that makes you most qualified to be a county council member?

Started in public safety at age 16, family owned Myers Ambulance. Started as a reserve officer at Franklin Police Department, and has now been with Greenwood police for 26 years. Has also served four years on the county council.

What are the top three issues facing the county, and how would you address them?

Budget and revenue is big issue. We need to be fiscally responsible and good stewards of taxpayer money. Is a lot going on with the reclassification of crimes by the state, and more prisoners are kept here locally. We will need to look to expand the jail; and the community corrections facility is old and outdated. We will get more people on work release, so the county is looking at a new building, and we will need to come up with revenue to pay for that. Infrastructure and roads. The county has been doing chip-seal, instead of asphalt. Public safety. The jail overcrowding concerns, and roads that are damaged can contribute to accidents, which is a public safety issue.

What is the role of a county council member? What will be your goals if elected?

Our role is to be the fiscal body, set the budget, make sure departments have adequate funding. We need to be creative in getting revenue, since we are receiving less money due to tax caps, and the state has unfunded mandates, such as the emergency dispatch center. Likes user fees, is not big on new taxes. The sheriff uses commissary money, towing fee, to buy equipment for deputies. Need to look at that more in other departments. County has looked at creating ordinance violations, instead of writing tickets under state statues. That fizzled out, but we need to research that more and see if it’s feasible.

Growth continues in the unincorporated White River Township area of the county, and residents have long been asking for more amenities, such as parks and trails. What should the county do to address these needs? How would they be paid for?

County park has looked at adding more, but with their tight budget, with running the horse park and Independence Park in White River Township, we need to look for grants for playground equipment and grants for trails.

Road funding continues to be an issue for local governments, including the county. Years ago, the county added a wheel tax to help bring in more money for road work, but local officials have continued to say there is a need for more funding. What should the county do to make sure there is enough money to fix, repave and build new roads?

Pressure the state to get more funding. Doesn’t want to create another tax to pay for roads. Already have the gas tax, which he hopes would be sufficient. Thinks the state needs to send more money back.

This year, the county began charging an innkeeper’s tax to bring in money so a local convention, visitor and tourism board can promote local attractions and events. How do you believe that money should be spent? How much involvement do you believe county government should have in overseeing that new entity and how those dollars are spent?

County commissioners and Greenwood mayor appoint board members. County council is the fiscal body and would approve their budget. We need to market the whole county, from Edinburgh all the way to Greenwood. There is a lot in every area of the county that has events and attractions that need to be advertised to attract more people to the area.

Do you believe the county needs any new taxes? If so, what and what would it pay for?

If we had to do a major jail expansion, could see paying a tax for that.

Do any changes need to be made to the county’s staffing levels? If so, what should be changed? And why?

Doesn’t believe staffing level needs to be changed. Some departments need pay raises. If you look at the pay of some county employees and how long they have been here, you know they are committed to county. Would like to see employees get better pay raises, but not all at once, would need to phase it in.

In past years, the county has faced a shortfall between what is planned to be spent on services and what is collected in taxes. What, if anything, can be cut? And why?

Doesn’t see any services that need to be cut. County did an early retirement a few years ago, that cut staff down. Not seeing any departments that need to be cut.

Jail overcrowding continues to be a concern, especially in light of recent changes in state law on who can be sent to state prisons. What should be done to address overcrowding at the jail? How should it be paid for?

We are going to have to expand our jail. Working in law enforcement, has arrested a lot of people in Greenwood who think they are in Marion County. People don’t like that they have to pay their bond or sit in jail until their court date. In Marion County, they will be out in a few hours, and that is not a deterrent, because they will go out and commit same crime. Need to deter people from wanting to be in jail. Hopes with community corrections expansion, can get people through and come out being productive citizens. If we have to do a major jail expansion, there is a good possibility they would have to pass a new tax.

The county is planning a new community corrections facility. How will additional expenses, such as staffing and operating costs, be paid for?

For community corrections, a lot of their funding is federal or state. Their benefits comes out of county taxes. Other sources, user fees they collect, could pay for the expansion and offset any costs.

Counties are set to get millions when the state releases some of the money set aside from the income tax. How should Johnson County spend that money?

Doesn’t think it should be all spent at once. We need to save some of it. Good portion should go to the roads. And maybe equipment for county highway, some of their equipment is outdated and has seen better days.

State law allows counties to enact local option income taxes specifically for public safety. That tax would apply to all of Johnson County and would need to be approved by the county council. Would you be in favor of enacting that tax to aid public safety? Why or why not?

If we had to do a major jail expansion and could use that tax to pay for that, would be supportive of it. Sheriff works to use commissary, tow fee fund, to offset costs, which is saving taxpayers money. Need to look at more of those for public safety.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.