Questions for District 1 associate commissioner candidates Tom Pedrola, Independent challenger, and Bev Thomas, Republican incumbent
Question: What role, if any, should the county play in shoreline development?
Tom Pedrola's response:
The county commission should of course take an active interest in shoreline matters and lend all support to those who have been harmed by the shifting boundaries. Local control of issues of local importance is always preferable.
There are a lot of things that should be carefully considered when making any move to expand government operation. First, if shoreline management would become a county responsibility, I think considerable additional expense could be involved.
There are four counties around the lake. Would there be some multi-county shoreline management organization and how would that be funded? Camden County has significant oversight of shoreline issues through planning and zoning already, something the other counties around the lake have been unwilling to undertake. Would it make any sense for shoreline management to become a piecemeal program with different counties maintaining different regulations and procedures?
I understand that there are those who have been damaged by the federal shoreline management bureaucracy and I certainly understand their interest in local control. I know how important shoreline issues are to the lake and state economy. I also understand the frustration of dealing with nameless bureaucrats at a distance.
I’m not sure what the mechanism for transferring control of the shoreline to a county would be, but if it were possible and the voters of Camden County approved some sort of local-control measure, I would take the responsibility for getting it done and seeing that county control was handled properly and in a fiscally responsible way.
Bev Thomas' response:
At this point in time this is probably not something the County has any effect on. Neither FERC or Ameren are interested in relinquishing their authority. And in fact, until all of the land ownership issues are resolved with owners, Realtors and title companies the County should not want to be involved. With that being said, I do feel it is important for Ameren to acknowledge the authority of the County as to planning & zoning and floodplain administration. This has not always been the case in the past.
In addition, the cost of another department for shoreline management within the County would be prohibitive at this time.
Question: How should the county improve the existing roadways with current funding?
Tom Pedrola's response:
The only way to do more with the same money is to streamline operations.
Careful bidding, strict attention to man-hours, good planning including setting roadway priorities according to traffic counts can all help provide a solid standard of maintenance within the current budget.
Page 2 of 2 - In recent years, the Neighborhood Improvement District program has fallen out of favor in Camden County. Having neighborhoods vote themselves debt to have roads paved or improved solves one problem while setting the stage for another. Maintaining roads costs money too. Still, helping residents pay for improvements that will raise their property values and make the road system better has worked in the past and could be expected to work in the future if used.
In the end, the goal should not be to maintain the current budget, but to work to attract business and industry to Camden County to broaden the tax base and make more money available for roads and everything else the county does.
Growth creates and then ultimately solves infrastructure problems. With growth comes increased revenue and more money to do the job.
Road maintenance is like all county problems: there is a solution if those charged with the responsibility of finding that solution give a maximum effort. Part time commissioners like Camden County has had won’t fill the bill. It takes full-time hard work. I have the mechanical background to understand road issues, the management experience to provide leadership and the commitment to make Camden County’s future my full-time job.
Bev Thomas' response:
Roads are always a source of concern and probably always will be. There are infinite needs within the road and bridge department with finite resources. Without an additional funding source, the County will continue to try to maintain the roads at a level similar to that they now are. It would be unreasonable to promise more. There are no more funds. The County is mandated to operate within a balanced budget and will do so! As of now, the sales tax revenue for 2012 is only slightly up from last year, just a little over 1%. This is certainly not enough to do much additional work. I would love to promise more but it wouldn't be realistic or fiscally responsible.
*Editors’ Note: In an effort to maintain fairness in our election coverage, we contacted all candidates running for the Camden County Sheriff's Department asking them to participate in a series of question and answer articles prior to the November General Election. The Lake Sun did not set a word limit or edit the responses in any way.