GRANDVIEW - For Grandview City Council, Pos. 7, incumbent Jesse Palacios the general election contest is all about the city's neighborhoods.
His challenger, Mary Barrett, is focused on improving the city's budget situation during lean economic times.
"Some are sliding backwards," Palacios says about parts of Grandview. He says he'd like to see the city continue the momentum from downtown revitalization and apply it to neighborhoods like portions of East Fourth Street that are struggling with poor streets and lacking sidewalks.
Palacios, Grandview's mayor from 1992 to 1998 and a city council member prior to that, says it was under his tenure as mayor that the city started an effort to recognize beautification efforts by property owners.
The home of the month beautification award program has been a help, Palacios says, in giving property owners incentive to keep up their properties.
Looking ahead, Palacios suggested Grandview could look at its financial reserves as a way to address neighborhood issues.
"Maybe we could get into the reserves a bit to improve a neighborhood," he said.
Barrett feels the priority should be steps to address the city's budget, not dipping into reserves.
She calls for a "bold approach" that balances the city budget without having to cut employees.
Her suggestions include:
- Higher insurance co-pays for all city employees
- Furlough days for employees
- Clamping down on overtime
- Early retirement for longtime employees if needed
- Elimination of some supervisory positions after those currently holding the position retire
She noted in particular that Grandview likely doesn't need both an assistant police chief and police chief. Barrett suggests having just one chief position in the police department following the retirement of the assistant chief or chief.
"All of the positions could be returned if the future financial atmosphere allows it," she adds.
Palacios also sees a need for an ongoing budget review, as employee costs such as medical insurance continue to rise.
He says freezing employee pay is not a viable long-term solution.
"Our employees didn't take a pay increase in 2011-12," Palacios notes. "I don't know how long you can continue to ask that of them."
He also points to the high cost of public safety as another challenge the city budget faces.
Palacios says partnerships can be a help in managing the city's budget, such as those formed with neighboring cities for animal control and the partnership with YVCC that will result in a new, bigger library for Grandview citizens.
Attracting new business
Both Palacios and Barrett touched on the need for Grandview to draw new business to help the local economy and create jobs.
"I think the EDGE group is going to come up with something," Palacios said of a local partnership of city, business, port, chamber and YVCC officials.
Downtown upgrades can only go so far in filling storefronts, Palacios notes, and he praises efforts by citizens and the city in presenting a positive image to prospective business developers.
Palacios added that entry way improvements and doing the little things, like keeping trash cans from overflowing and refreshing faded stop signs, can help project a desirable image for doing business in Grandview.
He says it's all about accountability, whether it's in neighborhoods or at city hall.
Barrett says amenities in Grandview, such as the new library, as well as youth and senior citizen programs, can help with that positive image, improving quality of life and attracting business.
"Grandview has a lot to offer," Barrett says. "Grandview is a great place because we haven't given up."