Today we continue publishing the Merriam mayoral candidates’ responses to our general election questionnaire. Here’s the third and final item:
What’s the biggest challenge facing Merriam today, and what will you do over the next four years to address it?
Ken Sissom (incumbent)
The City of Merriam has a diverse grouping of residential communities. While there are a couple of exceptions, the majority of homes in Merriam were built more than 40 years ago and this fact can create special challenges going forward. As a city, we must do what we can to maintain, or in some cases, improve the integrity of our neighborhoods. As a city we must encourage our residents to maintain their properties and neighborhoods. We want to continue to attract new young families to Merriam because it is a great place to live. But we will not be successful if we allow blight to take hold, which tends to lead to increases in crime.
We recently created a Neighborhood Services Manager position in City Hall in order to reach out to offer help and guidance for these communities. This employee acts as liaison between the neighborhoods and City Hall in an effort to solve code problems or nuisances through cooperation, to reduce the need for enforcement. We are searching for solutions to problem area by working alongside with residents. Our challenge will be to make sure that our streets, sidewalk, parks and facilities are highly maintained while building and improving relationships with our neighborhoods so that we can influence the necessary changes that will improve property values and the quality of lives for our residents.
The biggest challenge facing Merriam today is the continuation of frivolous spending under the theory that our sales tax will somehow bail us out. That approach can only end badly for us. Instead, spend wisely and focus on our basic needs (which many citizens say are not being met) and infrastructure. A related concern is over-use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF). I will work to curtail this practice. I’ve seen estimates that our city is losing 35% of potential income in TIF dollars. The difference is made up by the average wage earner.
That was our final question for the Merriam mayoral candidates. Thanks to both for their participation.