Reynoldsburg News

City Council primary

Republican incumbents concerned with revenue

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Reynoldsburg City Council incumbents Barth Cotner, Monica DeBrock and Chris Long will face off against challengers William Schuck, Daniel Skinner and Marshall Spalding in the Republican primary election May 7.

The top three finishers will advance to the general election in November, where they and Democrat Preston Stearns will be on the ballot to fill three at-large seats on council.

The incumbents in the race:

 

Barth Cotner

Cotner, 40, owns Cotner Funeral Home and has served on Reynoldsburg City Council since he was appointed in February 2009. He then ran successfully for election that year.

He is involved in the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington Rotary Club, the Reynoldsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, Reynoldsburg Republican Club and other local organizations, including Berliner Action Team for Sports.

"I am actively engaged in serving Reynoldsburg as a City Council member, business owner and family man," he said. "The relationships I have built allow me to genuinely connect with our community. I have lived in Reynoldsburg my entire life. I've seen the growth of our town and the change that has come with development.

"We have much to be proud of, as Reynoldsburg is a wonderful community in which to work and live," he said. "My roots in Reynoldsburg allow me to have a unique perspective of where we have been. As a business owner and father of two young children, I have the passion to help shape the direction of where we are going."

Cotner said the city has operated on a very economical budget for years, with a general fund that is much lower than other cities of comparable size.

"This is something that should make us proud, as we are able to achieve quite a bit without wasting valuable resources," he said.

Voters rejected the last attempt to raise the income tax rate in Reynoldsburg. Cotner said the shrinking city budget makes it difficult to maintain important city positions and services.

"We have many positions in the city that are vacant and must remain that way, as there is not enough money to fund those positions," he said. "Some are easier to live without, but positions such as police officers that we are not able to afford are more of a concern."

Cotner said the city also has had to limit capital improvements because only 2 percent of the general fund goes toward capital improvements.

"If we don't invest in our city, we will see it decline," he said. "Investing into capital projects, like our roads and infrastructure, is vital to the growth and success of any community.

"Given these facts, I'd like to see a request for an increase in the city income tax rate," he said. "Approximately 20 percent of the citizens of Reynoldsburg live and work in the city and those individuals would see a rate increase if it passes. Eighty percent of our residents do not work in Reynoldsburg and instead work in cities that already have a higher rate."

Cotner said he also would like to see the city hire a development director.

"The position is vital in not only attracting new business, but to help existing businesses meet any needs they have to grow," he said. "I want to see a safe and strong community and one that has more amenities, like a community center or YMCA. I believe by responsibly filling some open positions, we can see Reynoldsburg move forward in the direction we want."

Cotner's wife, Julie, is a teacher in Reynoldsburg schools. They have two children.

 

Monica DeBrock

DeBrock, 50, is an architect. She was appointed to council in December 2012 to serve out Nathan Burd's remaining term.

She has been involved in the Olde Reynoldsburg Strategic Plan Steering Committee, Reynoldsburg Design Review Board and the Columbus Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. She is a recipient of a 2004 President's Award and is on the Architectural Awareness Committee.

DeBrock has held a number of volunteer positions, including as a founding member and president of APPLAUSE, Friends of Encore Academy; Committee for a Better Reynoldsburg; Redistricting Planning Committee and Reynoldsburg Safe Routes to Schools, among others.

"I have been a dedicated community volunteer since moving to Reynoldsburg in 1990," she said. "I have proven I care about my neighbors, my neighborhood and my community. I care about our community's safety, job opportunities, education, business vitality and our city's reputation.

"Through my previous community involvement and work as an architect, I have seen how important it is for cities, schools, residents and businesses to work together for a better community," she said. "Successful communities also encourage future development for business opportunities and affordable housing while protecting the community's character and natural resources."

DeBrock said the city will need to increase its revenue in some way to stay attractive to business and maintain infrastructure.

"Sooner rather than later, Reynoldsburg will need to increase its revenue in order for the city to properly maintain all of its infrastructure, to fully staff our police department and to keep our city attractive for thriving business and residents," she said.

She said Reynoldsburg has the one of the lowest tax rates in Franklin County, which has "enabled both residents and companies to maintain a larger share of their income, which enables companies to potentially reinvest and expand and allowing residents to be able to spend and save locally."

"At the same time, the city has reduced its ability to attract new businesses, to properly maintain its infrastructure and to fully staff the police department," she said.

DeBrock said changes she would like to see in Reynoldsburg include a firm stance with property owners when it comes to maintaining their properties so values do not decrease.

"Reynoldsburg also needs to be more proactive in regard to business growth," she said. "We need to be able to fast-track city approvals for key businesses who want to move or expand in our community."

DeBrock and her husband, Mark, have two children.

 

Chris Long

Long, 54, is manager of the Ohio Development Services Agency. He is a graduate of Reynoldsburg High School and served in the United States Air Force. He was elected to Reynoldsburg City Council in 2009.

He was vice chairman of the Board of Zoning and Building Appeals and has served on the board of directors of the Reynoldsburg Community Association, is a member of the Reynoldsburg Masonic Lodge, American Legion Post 490 and the Columbus/Central Ohio 9-12 Project, among others.

Long said he would like to continue work begun during his first term. He also would not support any effort to raise the city income tax rate.

"In this sluggish economy, it is our citizens who are feeling the pain of higher taxes and higher prices," he said. "We, as elected officials, need to focus our efforts on expanding the base from which revenues are drawn through economic development and redevelopment -- and stop going back to the people to balance our budgets on their backs.

"Over the last three years, we've done the hard work of dealing with the cuts in funding from the state," he said. "And each year, we've been able to present balanced budgets with absolutely no reduction in services to the community."

He said the city will soon start the reconstruction process for Brice Road and is currently working on an additional $1.1 million street program.

"There are current discussions of adding an additional police officer to the Reynoldsburg Police Department as well," he said. "I want to ensure this work continues."

Long said the city does not need to fill the vacant position of development director.

"Consulting firms have been identified and meetings have been held over the past few months," he said. "Our goals with these meetings are to indentify, at project level, the needs of the city regarding economic development and redevelopment."

He said projects could be classified by size, scope and area of expertise required for each project and that consulting firms could be placed in groups depending on the capability and experience of each firm.

"Competitive bids would be solicited from each qualifying firm prior to the proposal being made to the council for funding," he said.

Long said the city's government is working.

"I think there are a lot of issues facing local governments caused by outside sources or other governmental entities," he said. "Reynoldsburg government should always work together to ensure that we are doing the best for the citizens, whether it be protecting their tax dollars, economic development projects that bring jobs to our community or rebuilding our infrastructure."

He said he is seeking re-election because, "I love Reynoldsburg."

"Before I was elected to my first term, I was and continue to be an active volunteer in our community," he said. "As a veteran, I also do a lot of work with organizations supporting veterans."

Long and his wife, Sandy, have six children.

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