Tim Baxa: 'Sales tax to me is more of a tax on the poor'
City council candidate Tim Baxa said he would bring the council a perspective gained from growing up in a small town and living in other communities in the state.
Council members and the public need better communication, Baxa said.
They need to avoid discussing things behind closed doors, and city residents need to speak up even if they are not comfortable speaking during meetings.
“I think one thing is that we could utilize the city email system” Baxa said.
This year’s budget wasn’t discussed in open meeting but instead was drawn up by city administrator Brogan Jones, who had been in that position only since April.
Baxa said department heads and council members should do a better job of working with Jones on budget matters.
Having department heads make suggestions on what big-ticket items are not needed for a certain year would help, Baxa said.
If the city needs more revenue, Baxa said he would prefer raising utility rates if the money is needed for expenses related to utilities.
Otherwise, he would prefer raising property taxes over raising sales taxes.
“Sales tax to me is more of a tax on the poor, so if I had to, I’d rather raise property tax,” he said.
Budget reserves should be maintained by department heads communicating with Jones to remain accountable, Baxa said.
“I think we have to determine what amount is the reserve,” he said.
He thinks investing reserves is the best use for revenue money.
Baxa said it would have been better to do a more thorough background check before hiring Gideon Cody as police chief. Cody led a raid Aug. 11 on the newspaper office and the homes of its co-owners and Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel,
“After the incident, when more light was shed on his actions, I’d have been quicker to put him on suspension,” Baxa said.
The way the city terminated its previous administrator wasn’t the right way to do things, he said.
“The way the previous city administrator was fired cost us money,” Baxa pointed out.
Administrator Mark Skiles was fired in December, and under the terms of his contract, the city had to pay out more than $50,000 in salary and benefits.
The structure of Marion’s city council is a hybrid model adopted about 20 years ago without a vote by residents.
Baxa thinks the first thing is for the incoming council to figure out what the structure actually is. Any major change council members want to make should be voted on by the public, he said.
Baxa said he prefers a system of rules instead of exceptions when the city makes decisions.
“Greater effort should be put on clarifying the rules,” Baxa said.
He’d like to see the community focus more on attracting residents who do technical jobs, such as plumbers and electricians, instead of trying to recruit big businesses.
Ways to do that would include getting information out that technical workers could include offering scholarships for technical education.
“The draw has to be the small-town appeal,” he said.
He also would like to see the city do more promotion, focusing on aspects such as a low crime rates and having affordable and available housing.
“It’s affordable, if it’s available,” Baxa said.
Renovating older housing might help, he said.
He mentioned that there seems to have been much turnover in city employees over the last few years. He thinks the council should make efforts to improve city workers’ morale.
If there is reason to believe an employee has done something wrong, perhaps a “parole period,” similar to administrative leave, would be appropriate to let citizens know some action is being taken.
Often, council members are asked to make decisions without much information on an issue. Issues ought to be discussed clearly with council members so members can make a decision, he said.
“I don’t like rushing votes,” Baxa said.
Last modified Nov. 1, 2023