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League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area Education Fund
Brenton A "Brent" Zuch
The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
Questions & Answers
1. What are your qualifications for office?
My degree from Miami University was in Political Science. This helps me understand concepts that staff propose in a way others may not. My wife is a City Planner and when we discuss city issues, she has invaluable advice. I also served at the Ohio House of Representatives. So I have experienced on a larger scale and I think this helps add to my perspective.
I also believe that military service prepares a person in a way nothing else can. You learn organization, hard work, dedication, devotion, self-sacrifice, responsibility and team work. I received numerous ribbons, accommodations and medals including a meritorious advancement while serving in the Gulf in the US Navy. I was happy to serve my Country but in another way, my Country served me by shaping me into the person I am today.
I served on the Finance Committee before I was on Council. Today I still serve that committee and I also serve as the President of CIC, OKI Rep and a member of Tree and Environment Committee.
2. What services do you believe should be considered basic and essential for the City?
First and foremost it is safety, safety, safety. Safety affects everything from business retention, to insurance rates to quality of life. We are blessed with an excellent private fire department that is first rate and a real bargain. We have had to make some tough choices and lose some "nice to haves" and restructure to 12 hours shifts to make sure there is always a backup police officer. There will also be no added fleet vehicles for the police this coming year.
Next are our roads whether you are talking about finding grants or like when we recently collaborated with Ham. Co. and Symmes on Union Cemetery to keep the roads in the best shape possible or the excellent job public works does plowing the snowy roads.
Loveland has a water utility and our water is hard but is plentiful, healthy and inexpensive. However, we had a water main break near the High School recently and quickly lost pressure in the most elevated part of the City. We have a backup with Cincinnati Water but they to had an issue and almost shut us off. This would have been a real problem because we would not have been able to fight a fire sufficiently at 2 schools, the Lodge Retirement Community or The Commerce Park. There was some confusion why were able to build the new water tower when the state cut so many revenues which the city had depended. The answer is that this utility's funds can only be used for water and the utility issued bonds and the water bill pays the cost. We were able to minimize the impact to the resident's bill by using "wrap" financing to minimize the hit until a large amount of existing debt is retired.
Speaking of your water bill, you may think it has gone up a lot. Actually, your water, garbage and SEWAGE bill has gone up. We were able to reduce the refuse collection cost by collaborating with other governments to broaden the size of the bid. However, your sewer bills keeps going up despite the fact that the city owns the treatment plant and has sued to get the management of it back from MSD, who is gouging you. I don't agree with the court's decisions and the rate increases are so great I'm willing to continue the fight for you.
If you have ever had the pleasure of dealing with Eva in Building in Zoning or Linda or Tom in the Tax or Finance Departments you know we have first rate people in those departments that can be a real help to people or business who have questions or problems.
3. How would you balance the City Budget?
Loveland has been a leader in collaboration and is ahead of the curve in many other areas too. We collaborated with other Cities for trash collection and got that cost down. We outsourced income tax collection to RITA. We outsourced building inspection. Both those departments were downsized as have all others in Loveland. Staff is down nearly 20%, while the state average is closer to 8%. I even reached out to a colleague in Symmes regarding policing. The most obvious is the excellent Loveland/Symmes Fire Department and the Northeast Collaborative, which collaborates on equipment purchases.
On the website you can see the budget, which has won awards. Part of it shows how we use statistics to measure our cost versus our outcomes for the services we provide. We rate very high and this helps guide things like fleet or road replacement. This administration has taken a scientific approach to budgeting and governing. We will continue look for savings while maximizing basic services.
It is important to note the City could have made up the nearly One Million Dollars in state cuts to our budget by decreasing the Tax Credit. I was the first to say I wouldn't support anything that didn't give the Voters a Voice in the decision during this Watershed moment. We then pulled together Resident Panels to review the budget and to suggest cuts. The deficit increased but those cuts were incorporated. We balanced the budget by Reorganizing Departments, Outsourcing, Privatizing and Collaborating and Staff is now down nearly 20%.
The levy detailed the cuts so the residents could understand what would be given up and the residents spoke. I respect that so we move forward with the cuts, I see no reason to ask twice. However, it makes it that much more important to continue to grow the Tax Base through Economic Development and Redevelopment as we are with the Loveland Station Development, which is coming online.
The imminent Loveland Station Development will help but we also have 8.5 acres near the Loveland Madeira Corridor and I have been working on securing funding for an ecologically friendly pedestrian/bike bridge to connect the bike trail with that corridor to spur development an redevelopment on that side of the river.
4. Citizen engagement is important to the health of local government. In what ways do you support citizen engagement?
As long as I have been involved with Loveland, be it on Finance Committee or City Council, Loveland has been a leader in transparency and outreach.
We routinely have neighborhood meetings (in the warm months) where we go to the residents and tell them what we are up to and take their questions and follow up on their request. I have tried to make as many of those as possible.
Our website has an abundance of information including the budget. The budget has won awards for being reader friendly. We have used the scientific method for statistically comparing cost versus our quality of the services we provide and that is part of the budget. I'm happy to report we rate quite high quality and low in cost for most everything but sewage, which we don't control. There are various ways to contact various people listed on the website. It also contains announcements, legislation and agendas.
We also do a weekly newsletter. It is distributed by email and you can sign up through the website. We had to do away with the print version during budget cuts. We also had to do away with the cable TV broadcast of the Council Meetings. I argued against this as I knew many residents followed it that way and I felt it was important for community engagement but you can still watch it live through our website or review it at a later date.
Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League. Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits may apply. See individual questions for specific word limits. Direct references to opponents are not permitted. Please edit your work before submitting. We are unable to provide spell-check at this time.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 7, 2013 07:49
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