photo by Heather Renee_____ 

Arbitrary Tax Dept
Illegal Subsdies
Wasted Legal Fees
Hospital
Waterfront Taxes
Profile & Family
E.L. Rescue Squad
Development
Campaign Financing
The School Board
The Landfill


You should expect your elected representatives to represent YOU.  Your voice should be heard and you should actively be asked your opinions about issues that impact us all.  Commissioners should vote YOUR agenda, not their own. 

I pledge to be that kind of commissioner.

And I think outside the box! 

Please vote for Martin Oakes during the Republican primary in May.
 

Core Beliefs:
  • Citizens DESERVE to have more say in the issues of the day.
  • Taxpayers should not pay more in taxes than absolutely necessary to provide the services for which they voted.

    Goals if elected:
    • Make TWO Planning Board, one for the West, one for the East, and different zoning systems.
       
    • Cut taxes by 1 cent on the tax rate.   Financed by the pending reduction in school system debt payments
       
    • Cut the water rate by 5% -- eliminate the subsidy to sewer customers.
       
    • Put in place an independent review of legal cases to prevent spending money on lost causes -- amounts to about $100,000 per year for the past four years.
       
    • Find some way to NOT spend money renovating the hospital.

    In first place is the need to cut taxes without cutting services or staff.  County Management has repeatedly said that as the high debt for the school expansion is paid down, that leaves room for more borrowing -- renovating the hospital is frequently mentioned.  There are multiple problems with this approach:

      1) You VOTED to issue debt to fix up the schools, you did NOT vote to pay this debt level forever, or pay for non-school capital expense.

      2) The assumption that a certain amount of debt payment is carved in granite and should never be reduced.  If you pay off your mortgage do you immediately go out and find something else to buy so you can have the same payments? 

      3) The idea that the county should spend money that produces NO return on that investment.

    And finally, for the past 8 years the county has budgeted to use a little of its fund balance (savings account) and has, on average, added to the fund balance.  The finance department routinely over-estimates expenses and under-estimates revenue.  The County Manager can always seem to find money for yet another consultant.


  • Proactive
    Knowledgeable

     


    There's a general tendency among people who have authority to become complacent or arrogant, or both.  Whether those people are spending the taxpayer's dime, or imposing restrictions on our quality of life, they should be held accountable. 

    My approach to holding authorities accountable is by asking questions.  First I spend time to research and gain the knowledge needed of the subject matter.  Next I ask the important questions of those in authority, the ones deciding how and where tax money is spent – yours and mine alike.  It’s easy, IF you already have the facts.   When responses reveal accurate data promptly, typically the manager is doing his job well.  Often though, questions produce responses of "I don't know" or obvious evasions.  Why are these responses such big problems?

    Poor data leads to poor decisions, wasted time and wasted money.  As your County Commissioner I will ensure that the facts have been acquired and are being presented accurately.  I will not micro-manage the process, but will certainly double-check that there actually was a process, instead of a short-cut “guessing game”.

    Why are detailed processes and close monitoring so important?  When projects using your tax money lack these things, we have fiascos such as: 

      The Blades Trail development (both the run-off/clear-cutting and lost performance bond) 
      The very late new Sewer Plant Project
     
    The real estate tax revaluations of 2008 and 2011
      The attempt to send surplus Rescue Squad funds out of the county
          (the money was originally your taxes and donations)
      Land purchases for schools that turn out to be either unusable or require
           major expense to fix critical problems.
      The county sued taxpayers and lost so badly that they paid the taxpayer's legal fees,
         on more than one occasion
      The county attempted to cut retired public safety employee's health benefits, and
          had to pay their legal fees.
      The county attempted to tax a large land parcel very differently than others,
         and lost this case at the Property Tax Commission -- and meanwhile quietly
         compromised with an ex-commissioner on his tax appeal.
    The county took expensive legal action trying to get the ex-Sheriff out of office, BUT the
        county lacks jurisdiction, and the case was thrown out.


     


    Responsive Knowledgeable


    The time I put into acquiring the right information and appropriately questioning the authorities and fighting important battles for you, the citizens, has already paid off in several instances.  A few examples are as follows:  

    -          A planned landfill planned to be built in 2006 behind a residential development was stopped.

    -          Instead of the Rescue Squad sending almost $1m of taxpayer money on the pet projects of their board of directors, pressure was applied to make them negotiate with the County Commissioners -- now East Lincoln will be getting a new park.

    -          The East Lincoln Sewer Tax was reduced to less than 2 cents from 7.5 cents following protests to county commissioners by myself and others on the team that the taxes were being used to subsidize expansion of the sewer districts to non-taxpaying areas.  Once the outstanding debt for the original plant is paid off, this tax will vanish!  However they're still playing games with the finances.

    -          Possible changes to the 2008 tax revaluation, which included gross errors and biases.  The next revaluation was moved in one year to 2011.  Some changes were made but the overall process has again resulted in inequitable valuations.

    Those are some well-known issues.  But there are many others, resulting from discussing issues with County Commissioners or the County manager. 

    I always stay informed on the important issues that Lincoln County faces.  I've attended 70% of the county commission meetings over the past four years, and more than 80% of the planning sessions or special joint meetings with the School Board.   If I miss a meeting, I get a copy of the audio and listen to it.

     

    Organizational Skills


    I've been a long-term member of ELBA and The Chamber of Commerce.  I've also been a member of the Executive Committee of the County Republican Party, and was the Treasurer for several years.  Last year the Republican 10th District asked me to take over as Treasurer for an interim period when the incumbent dropped the ball.  The County Party Executive honored my effort with the 2012 Republican of the Year award.

    I've managed organizations as large as 50 people, but, more importantly, have grown staff from zero up to 35 people, starting with seed money or investor's money.  I've worked in 6 start-up companies, three of which I co-founded. 

     


    Background


    My Dad was a self-employed electrician, and as a youngster I helped him on Saturdays and summers re-wiring older houses.  I had my own tool belt, including the electrician’s pliers shown here.  When a cable had to be run through a hot, ancient attic full of cobwebs, guess who did it?  The young, nimble kid!  I soon hated attics. 

    Whenever I showed signs of slacking off in school, my Dad always grabbed the pliers and said, “Don’t worry, if you flunk out, there’s a pair of pliers waiting for you in the truck!”  (Several years ago my Dad finally admitted he had deliberately given me the dirtiest jobs available).  My Dad motivated me to work hard and be successful the old-fashioned way, by earning it!

    Those pliers paid my college tuition when I worked as an electrician in a steel mill for several summers.  I received academic scholarship money, lived at home to save money, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, cum laude. 

    Now that my children have kids of their own, and I'm retired, I look forward to devoting more of my time to helping the community by listening to the citizens, gathering the right information and acting proactively.
     

    Citizens of Lincoln County, you should expect your elected representatives to represent YOU.  Your voice should be heard and you should actively be asked your opinions about issues that impact us all.  Commissioners should vote on YOUR behalf!  I pledge to be that kind of commissioner.  I think outside the box!  Please vote for Martin Oakes during the Republican primary in May.
     

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    Last modified: 01/20/14