(BEDFORD) – Five of the six candidates attended Thursday’s Bedford Republican Mayor Forum.
One of the candidates, Sam Shaw, was not present.
The format was the same as the City Council Forum with two prepared questions, and two questions from the audience and then a summary of the evening.
Tonight’s forum was moderated by Times-Mail Krystal Shelter and 1340 WBIW’s Myron Rainey.
The questions and responses:
1.) City Budgets are always a challenge for the city administration to cope with. Have you reviewed the Bedford City Budget? Do you believe it is workable in its present form? Is there room for cuts?
Rick Butterfield – There are always things that can be cut in budgets. I am currently learning the budget process. The highway budget only has $115,000 in that budget. The Community Crossing Grant is about $450,000 to pave Edgewood addition and not all of it is going to be paved. This budget included a purchase of a fire engine. The next budget; some things will be dropped.
Eugene McCracken – One thing: the Current Mayor will be setting the 2020 budget. But we will look into the 2021 budget. As a County Commissioner, I have worked with the Auditor in preparing budgets. What we really need is a direct path to the Mayor’s office, creating a Volunteer City Council volunteer advisory group from each city council district. Finding out what their needs and concerns are in their district. Are there issues with sidewalks, water, runoff or public safety?
Mike Hawkins – I went to the City/Clerk-Treasurers office, and while these candidates got a state summary of the budget for the city… I got a 736 page summary of where actual some of the expenses and things the city spent money on; including, a purchase for a dress down at JCPenney. I do not know why the city needs to be paying for a dress. In
addition to $60 oil changes, why are we paying for oil changes when we have people of capable of doing the oil changes ourselves?
Bob Garrett – I work with budgets large and small, I never went over budget. I think we need to stay within a budget, make sure children are safe and make sure money goes to the police department.
Sam Craig – The cuts fall back to the Mayor, and the Clerk-Treasurer sets the budget. Wages, insurance must be paid. Then we must determine needs versus wants, and what it will take to be able to maintain those.
2.) In the past the few years, the city has acquired the Elks Club building and Indiana Limestone Building, now StoneGate North. How should the city approach funding for their upkeep and/or rehabilitation? How would you propose using those city buildings to the fullest?
Gene McCracken – The Mayor plans to transform the Elks Club into City Hall and Bedford Police Department. Move the current water department into where City Hall is now. And allow Stonegate North to be able to have additional business come in. Currently, the Red Cross and STEM currently use the building.
Michael Hawkins – This is interesting with budget challenges and as well as, so much tax dollars available. And the safety of Bedford Police officers transporting those they arrest from out in the parking lot of the police station; while family members are upset their loved ones are arrested. The police officers must think quickly how they are going
to deal with those situations. I ask the Mayor to reconsider this proposal. The Stonegate North will struggle to find businesses to locate there.
Sam Craig – Is there a use for these buildings? Assess the buildings and is if it is cost effective to do the project and what plan is for the city, and what are the plans we already have for the buildings? And finally, what is the plan for paying and upkeeping these buildings? Good planning must be made.
Bob Garrett – We must find the most cost-effective way. Is it too expensive to move it to Elks Club or is there another location that is more cost effective.
Rick Butterfield – It will cost a million plus to move the Bedford Police Department into the Elks building, why not move the Mayor Office and Police Station to the Stonegate North building. We have 38-42 properties the cities own why not Auction some of these Properties off and get them back in viable private hands. We need full disclosure on what
The city owns and operates. There is not enough parking for the police department and as well as the Mayor’s Office to use this building.
Democrat Response to Thursday’s forum:
Although Thursday evening was a Republican Forum, the Democrat Candidate for Bedford Mayor was in attendance. 1340 AM WBIW reached out to her for a response:
“They are all impressive; all have a different range of experience and education,” said Rowena Cross-Najifi. “Some of the things I agreed with, considering maybe moving Bedford City Hall to Stonegate as suggested by Candidate Rick Butterfield. What really struck me is the 40 percent of students are fine, and 60 percent are not. To me I would like to find out where those statistics have came from. And this was an eye-opener as we can not get an Amazon or larger company because of the lack of a workforce available to meet the demands of these corporations.”