Up & Coming Weekly

October 31, 2017

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 21 of 48

NOVEMBER 1 - 7, 2017 UCW 21 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Dan Culliton District 2 UCW: Elected city officials and Cumberland County Commissioners have not been able to agree on who would operate a joint 911 emergency center and continue to be at odds over which sales tax distribution method the county should imple- ment. And now, the county seems to be pushing back on how much money it should devote to the city's baseball stadium. What will you do specifi- cally to create better communication and coop- eration between the two governing bodies? Culliton: The city of Fayetteville's 911 Call Center is a Center of Excellence and who's accreditation's far surpasses that of the county's. We would need to ensure these superior standards are maintained if jointly operated. This holds true for the fire and emergency medical services as well, where the demand and higher service level expectations are much greater within the city. This is why the city took back over those services from the county in 2011. Currently, the county's public- safety answering point (PSAP) does not hold these same accreditations. With regards to the county's sales tax distribution, Fayetteville is by far the largest of the 9 municipalities located within the county. However, by state law, the county commissioners ultimately decide how the funds are distributed, despite that over %80 of the collected sales tax in the county is generated within the city limits of Fayetteville. Another critical factor is the recent annexations that now place a larger financial burden on the city. This includes things like city police protection of over 43,000 residents that the county's sheriff's department is no longer responsible for. Despite this, the Sheriff's department budget increased and no funds from the county were diverted to the city to compensate for this. This is despite the fact that a primary factor for the "Big Bang Annexation" was to get the city above the 200,000 population threshold, which is the benchmark in order for major companies to consider investment in an area, which is mutually beneficial. The bulk of these economic initiatives have also been the burden only the city of Fayetteville has shouldered despite the obvious benefit to the rest of the county. So it boils down to fairness and an equitable distribution of funds. We need collaboration but in order to achieve that all parties need more objectivity and reasonableness in their assessments. All parties must realize that the city and county are involved in a very symbiotic relationship and therefore our goals should be on parallel paths as our combined future growth are inextricably tied together. All parties need to start looking past the short term and gain a bigger picture of that combined future growth. Only then, with that shared vision, can the city and county grow effectively and for the betterment of all. To this end I am for full financial transparency of each parties positions so that the voters of not only the city but the county can have to opportunity to evaluate their elected officials performance and effectiveness. I have proven to be a leader who can bring this type of collaboration and consensus building within a diverse group of interests, by finding the common ground and keeping the discussions on track, in order to be effective. This is the type of leadership that is needed, at like no other time in our city/county evolution, as we are experiencing significant growth and have an opportunity to finally realize our collective potential. We need to increase the frequency of face to face meetings with county commissioners and city officials in order to build a rapport both professionally and personally. Regular, combined budgetary meetings should also be the goal in order to keep everyone on the same page with open communication between all. I also believe that a combined bi-annual press announcement would go a long way to show solidarity and improve the citizens faith in their elected officials ability to work together. UCW: The city's tax base is more dependent on residential properties than any other major city in North Carolina. This is primarily because of Fayetteville's lack of economic development and our continued failure to attract large corporate headquarters, technology companies and manufacturing firms. What role do you feel the city plays in local economic development? Culliton: We need to take a serious look at limiting the burden of the city's revenue off the backs of the property owners. The people, especially in district 2, already have a hard time making ends meet yet they are not being afforded jobs that allow them to earn a realistic, living wage. It is absolutely dependent upon the city to set an environment that allows job generation to occur. That is a com- plex process that entails various pieces of the "puzzle" to be in place, as well as collaboration and consensus between the citizens and city officials. It's impera- tive that we as a community present a unified front when we are approached by major corporations for potential investment and job creation or we risk others passing over us the next time around. If we want jobs to come here we need to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Fayetteville, NC is Open For Business. We have undergone a tremendous amount of growth and I wish to see that growth continue, however, I feel we need to ensure it's "Smart Growth". As the candidate experience in planning I am well positioned to offer insight and direc- tion on the type of development that benefits the city the most, both in revenue generation and as a catalyst to future economic growth. We should look to promote multi-use projects like that of 300 Hay or the Prince Charles, as these can generate significantly more revenue for the city per acre then a sprawling single use project where the infrastructure investment and maintenance alone can produce a nega- tive revenue situation. The person District 2 picks to represent them on this next council, if they wish to have effective leadership occur, must not only possess the experience but an understanding of these complexities. Further, we should look to support and stimulate small business as, collectively, they are major employers and economic generators in and of themselves. Small business allows a diverse range of employment opportunities as well. We are a diverse population that make up the All American City so these types of diverse employment opportunities are very important for those with unique or non-tradi- tional skill sets. We need to look at expanding and improving access to vocational programs and ones like the PWC's STEM program that can produce Job Ready high school graduates and help place them within our local workforce. These programs not only train our young people with needed skills but provide contacts within the community that they may later use upon entering the workforce. I will also work continuously to encourage hiring Fayetteville First as well as working to encourage a percentage of minority participation. Finally, I will look to promote local businesses to be hired in order to secure those available con- tracts. I would also look to ensure regular notification of open contracts as well as classes and online resources so that local contractors can learn how these bid processes work in an attempt to level the playing field. I will always support initiatives that look to grow local small business. As your next District 2 City Councilman, one of my top priorities will be working on multiple levels to attract a variety of both small and large busi- nesses so that everyone can have an equal opportunity in moving their families forward in obtaining their piece of the American Dream. Election 2017 Fayetteville City Council Candidates

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