I would, with the help of the Fiscal Court, look at the ways the county incentivizes housing developments. This could be as simple as investing in the infrastructure (streets/roads, utilities) through a partnership with the developer. Once, the housing units are sold, the county will be reimbursed for the investment. This would enable more people to be involved in the developing sector. Through strategic planning, we can identify parts of the county that could be zoned as incentive zones. This would allow us to preserve valuable farmland while making the most efficient use of development areas. Working closely with the Community Development Services along with other county stakeholders to develop this plan will be a way to create a vison for the growth.
Economic development in Christian County requires active and energetic engagement — something I’m proud to say I actively do. As your Christian County Judge-Executive, I will seek to collaborate with community members, not just current leadership, to define a clear vision for the future. It’s important that Christian County residents are represented in their wishes for our community. Through strategic planning and consistent partnership with local stakeholders and state organizations, we can limit the resource impact on our community while still working to develop the kind of infrastructure we need. Working with the state CED and with our local Economic Development Council is vital for our community’s growth. Now as your Magistrate and next as your Christian County Judge-Executive, I pledge to always be accessible to you and listen to your concerns, and act accordingly to best represent Christian Countians. To spur growth in Christian County, as your Judge-Executive, I would focus investment on potential growth projects that create a return on investment for the community and take a business-model approach to spending and investment, seeking to grow the tax-base rather than raising taxes.
Recently we unfortunately had to experience this type of disaster. We have learned a lot about the response to this type of disaster. I want to use this experience to bring on additional training to first responders and Emergency Management. Having a good working relationship with the Emergency Management Director, volunteer fire department, other first responders are vital. We need to ensure our Emergency Management Plan is reviewed and updated from time to time. These valued community members work really hard to keep us safe during and after a disaster. We need to focus on their continued training and support these initiatives. Having the "boots on the ground" with proper training and resources needed to work effectively will be key to that success.
Christian County needs a change of course to make it more attractive for the kind of job creation that makes families choose to live and work here. As your Judge-Executive, I will implement the kind of business-first, fiscally conservative decision making that brings about that change. Our measure of success should be more people calling our community home. My experiences working in one of our largest industries in Christian County (agriculture) will allow me to lead the way in making sound business decisions and running our county with a business-first mindset, all while protecting our citizens against taxation. It is my intention to carry this kind of representation and leadership forward if elected as your County Judge-Executive. A stronger focus on opportunities for small businesses is also vitally important. In many instances, small businesses are created by other small businesses. This type of entrepreneurial opportunities exponentially creates jobs and opportunity for residents of Christian County. Taking a look at how county government incentivizes small businesses is important to ensure we are being equitable to all.
The primary source of tax revenue for our county is through the ad valorem (property) taxes. However, with over 50% of our housing being rental, this creates an unfair burden on a smaller percentage of our county population. A consumer-based tax model should be put in place to allow a significant reduction in the property tax. We're limited locally as only Frankfort can change this at this time. I will push for these localized options to be enabled so we can reduce the property tax burden on homeowners in the county. We need to embrace a strategic approach to all spending. Any investment needs to be reviewed to calculate the return on investment. Unfortunately, many times elected officials believe that in order to improve something it must cost something. I have the mindset that many things can be improved without costing anything. In some instances, saving money could exist if we simply take a strong, strategic look at it. Having a community with a smaller tax burden can bring population growth. When growth occurs, tax base increases allowing for future reduction to the individual taxpayer.
We are one of the few counties that do not have a library taxing district. During my time as magistrate, I have heard from counties that have these type of taxing districts and they have developed huge taxing burdens for its citizens. With recent legislative changes by the General Assembly, they have stopped these huge increases by the taxing district by making the Fiscal Courts have final say in tax rates. This is a step in the right direction for these counties. However, even without the library tax, if you look at our library we have dramatically increased services, circulation, and patrons without having a taxing district. This is due to a strong engaged board that works hard to utilize the strategic planning approach to its operation. Our local library does an outstanding job seeking private dollars to help in its mission. I am honored and proud to have served with this outstanding board and think they can be an example to the rest of the state.
Increased health care starts with a strong workforce. Providing opportunity for all residents for a living wage will strengthen the living conditions, education and health care. Prosperous communities also are a draw for health care providers. Having a stronger workforce with greater participation will fix many problems including these inequalities.
Transparency is key. If elected your next County Judge-Executive, I will create a 6-week, one night a week, program called Christian County 101. This program will allow Christian County residents the opportunity participate in a program that takes an inside look at county government. Each week will have a different focus to include but not limited to; the jail, sheriff, emergency management, road department, budget process, and quasi-government agencies. As a result of this program, a roster will be created for all future board and commissions based on expertise and area of interest. I also want to be more visible to the area youth and create field trip opportunities for our kids to see and understand the value of Christian County. We also can look at fiscal court dates and times to make them more accessible to county residents. I also want us to have better representation in Frankfort and Washington. Sharing our stories with state and federal legislators will only help our community prosper. I have the skill sets to bring this county together and grow toward a prosperous tomorrow. Our measure of success will be when our kids have a desire to stay or come back to Hopkinsville to be productive, engaged community members. For more information about our platform please go to jerrygilliam.com I humbly ask for your vote on May 17.