LIMA —There are only 10 days left before Allen County residents vote to select their candidate to fill one vacated Allen County Commissioner’s seat. Vying for the vote are Republican Cory Noonan, Democrat Connie Miller and Libertarian Don Kissick.
Budget concerns are weighing heavily on Allen County residents’ minds. Each candidate agrees Allen County’s budget planning and policy will require change; however, there is adversity in their approaches to balancing the budget. The candidates have spoken on two separate strategies that, in theory, may be a viable model to help solve budget problems.
Zero-based budgeting is a line-by-line method that builds a budget from the ground up starting from zero.
Noonan is convinced that zero-budgeting is the best method to use in drafting a budget.
Miller’s stance is that zero-based budgeting is too time-consuming, creates a micro-managing atmosphere and negates the hard work elected officials have put into creating current budgets.
Kissick feels the approach is useful but only on a case-by-case basis.
Another method to solving budget problems is privatizing non-mandated state programs that are direct-assistance operations to residents of Allen County like 911, parks and recreation and road repair. Each candidate has a different strategy to address and analyze agency operations.
Noonan stresses the importance of accountability, more effort on the front end, communicating with each level and ensuring that elected officials are carrying out their responsibilities. He is confident that each agency should be looked at on a case-by-case basis before any budget revisions are made.
Miller’s position is that privatizing would be too time-consuming and not a feasible strategy.
Kissick’s attention would be focused on agency travel expenses and office overhead rather than eliminating services to the community. Funding by private sources will provide a seamless transition.
All three candidates acknowledged that in addition to the budget and the issue of jobs and economic development, the other top priority for the next commissioner will be addressing aging facilities and getting a handle on the county’s real estate portfolio.
Noonan believes the county needs to inventory what properties it owns and establish what they can be used for, whether they are marketable, if they should be sold and if they are used effectively. He would work with the auditor and real estate agents to inventory the properties in question, develop a plan and fund repairs with sales tax revenues, since casino revenues are inconsistent.
Miller is convinced the county has properties that would be good to liquidate but selling off any of them would follow an inventory of what exists now and analyzing future needs. She would look to casino revenues to fund restoration of the properties.
Kissick is adamant about a yearly tracking of property values and basing decisions of selling properties on that metric. He also sees casino revenues as an inconsistent monetary source and would seek funding property repairs with sales tax revenues.
Each of the candidate’s backgrounds differ in a unique way.
Noonan grew up near Delphos on a family farm where discussions at the kitchen table often focused on issues affecting small business rather than politics. Since moving back to the area five years ago, Noonan has been active in advancing fiscally-conservative values as a volunteer. Noonan’s political resume includes working as legislative aide at the Ohio House and the director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. He currently serves as Congressman Jim Jordan’s deputy district director in Lima. In addition, he was appointed to the Allen County Port Authority. He has fought against the sales tax increase proposal, experienced the dynamics between the commissioners and officials at the courthouse and worked with elected officials at the county, township, municipal, state and federal levels.
Miller was raised in Bluffton and acquired an associate of art degree in business from The Ohio State University at Lima in 1989 and a bachelor of art degree in business and accounting from Bluffton University in 1990. Miller maintains an extensive track record of community involvement and comprehensive business background. She has owned and been president of Connie Miller Insurance, Inc., since 2000. She was also a candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives for District 4 in 2010.
Kissick is a Royal Oak, Mich., native and moved to the Lima region several years ago. He attended Ferris State University and received a diploma in technical communication. In 2010, Kissick was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in District 4.
His professional experience includes trainer for the Young Men’s Christian Association, engine production associate at Honda of America Manufacturing, writer/editor at Lake County Star, fire controlman 2nd class, United States Navy, editor at Satellite Newspaper and staff writer with Big Rapids Daily Newspaper Pioneer Publishing Group.
Jay Begg is running unopposed for a second open seat.