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Terre Haute City Common Council, District 2

Term length: 4 yearsDuties: The legislative body (City Common Council) may pass ordinances, orders, resolutions, and motions for the government of the city, the control of the city’s property and finances, and the appropriation of money. The legislative body may, by ordinance, make loans of money and issue bonds for the purpose of refunding those loans. The loans may be made only for the purpose of procuring money to be used in the exercise of the powers of the city or for the payment of city debts. The legislative body may investigate the departments, officers, and employees of the city; and hire or contract attorneys and legal research assistants. The city legislative body shall, by ordinance, fix the annual compensation of all elected city offices and approve the compensation set by the city executive (the mayor) for each appointive officer, deputy, and other employee of the city. After reviewing the budget report from the fiscal officer, the legislative body shall prepare an ordinance fixing the rate of taxation for the ensuing budget year and an ordinance making appropriations for the estimated department budgets and other city purposes during the ensuing budget year. The legislative body, in the appropriation ordinance, may reduce any estimated item from the figure submitted in the report of the fiscal officer, but it may increase an item only if the executive recommends an increase.Salary: $14,165.84Incumbent: O. Earl Elliott

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    O. Earl Elliott

  • Denise Hutcheson

  • Diana Winsted-Smith

Biographical Information

What, in your view, is the next necessary step for the city’s finances and why?

Various projects have been proposed related to local economic development (including but not limited to a casino, convention center, downtown planning, riverfront development). Please describe your vision for economic development in Terre Haute, including how any or all of these projects fit into your plan.

What measures, if any, would you propose to increase the quality of life in our community and/or to ensure that quality of life reaches all community members?

What do you see as the order of priorities for new and improved infrastructure in our community, and how do you propose each of those be funded?

What is your philosophy as to subsidizing business and industry, e.g. tax increment districts, tax abatements, public/private partnerships, development bonding, etc.?

Campaign (Public) Email Address
Campaign Phone (812) 249-6331
Education St. Patrick's Grade School, Schulte High School (1972), Indiana State University (B.S. Accounting 1976)
Occupational history and current position Certified Public Accountant, Sackrider and Company (1981 to present); Certified Public Accountant, Ernst and Young (1976 to 1981)
Other public or political offices held, and when District 2 City Councilman (2016 to present)
The next step is to continue to reduce the short-term borrowing using surplus budgets to generate the cash to do so. This will eliminate interest expense. Once the short-term debt is eliminated, we can begin to build cash reserves to acceptable levels.
The Convention Center, Downtown Planning, Turn to the River, and Casino are inter-related projects. Downtown Planning is most critical at this time, as convention attendees will be here soon. We need their experience in Terre Haute to be as great as can be. This will generate repeat convention business, and word-of-mouth advertising by visitors to our community is certainly a form of economic development.

Workforce development and quality issues must be addressed to every extent possible to attract new business and industry.

Successful execution of the above-mentioned projects, which are in their early stages, is one of my goals for economic development for the city.
There is currently a Community Plan being assembled headed by RJL Solutions, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor, Steve Holman, and others. I attended one of the focus group sessions and provided input. I also attended a Downtown Planning Focus Group meeting headed by experts from the Indiana Main Street and provided input. I heard much valuable input and look forward to the output from these studies.

I believe including water in quality of life and quality of place improvements is important. Water is soothing, refreshing, and cool; and my grandsons just love water, including the little puddle that forms at the end of our driveway.

Quality of life and quality of place improvements should also reflect the consensus of the community. Community consensus is much more important than the thoughts of an individual City Council member.
Infrastructure improvements are a challenge because they are expensive and require outside sources of revenue, such as state and local grants.

The greatest infrastructure need I see is more road and street paving and related striping and painting. I also have observed that some of the structures in our parks look tired and need refurbished.
Preserving existing jobs and obtaining new jobs is critical for long-term growth. As a Certified Public Accountant, I am very familiar with the effect of abatements and how they work. I am a proponent of abatements, as these taxes are not eliminated. These taxes are merely reduced, and I have always felt the reduced tax revenue was still much greater than the additional cost of providing city services caused by new property upon which taxes were reduced.

I am for public/private partnerships. We need more of them, as more private investment in our city is a positive.

Terre Haute has a number of TIFF districts. The TIFF concept is reasonably solid, as it provides a way to fund infrastructure improvements and additions in the TIFF districts that would be difficult to fund otherwise.
Campaign (Public) Email Address
Campaign Phone (812) 229-4232
Occupational history and current position Professional experience includes nursing, having worked in the correctional setting, trained as a Emergency Medical Technician, and now working in addiction recovery.
It is essential Terre Haute City and County government has a disciplined approach to financial responsibility. Payments need to be made to banks on time to avoid costly late fees. No overdrawn cash balances. Re-evaluate planning for any program, department, or park that is running high deficits in history, and/or anticipated future. Not only should we be balancing our budget, but we should also be building savings for future projects to assure all citizens can enjoy our city.
My vision for Terre Haute would be a vibrant clean city with arts and culture. We would have a creative spirit to ensure increased connectivity with people, and nature. The riverfront development, downtown planning, and convention center brings hope to achieve prosperity. People enjoy spending time learning new ideas, viewing creative works from artists, shopping for unique gifts, entertainment, and meeting new people. Citizens will want to work, shop, live, and spend their leisure time to fulfill their emotion needs. The casino needs more thought process for searching data, such as hitting the big jackpot to plummeting home values.
First of all, and most importantly our safety needs to be addressed for prevention of accidents, and/or fatalities. Infrastructure needs attention, such as: roads replaced, roads widened, hanging fractured tree limbs, dead trees removed, better lighting and visibility, sidewalks, storm water drains, sewage, clearing blind spots, clearly painted roadways, and handicap accessible walkways. Secondly, my goal would have Terre Haute going clean and green for health and safety. Third, ordinance staff would be increased and laws would be enforced as they were intended. Perhaps re-define blight in Indiana legislature. Lastly, I would create community meetings occasionally to address their neighborhood concerns. Brainstorm ideas to better suite the enjoyment of the community.

The order of priorities is found in the question above. The funding could come from a Federal Grants, Incentive Grants, Real Property Reforms, and other building grants. Support Indiana Toll roads. I would target federal work study funds, help students obtain workplace experience, including apprenticeships. I would reach out to Rose Hulman Civil Engineering department, Indiana State University, and Union leaders for assistance. Furthermore, I would suggest Terre Haute sell any land/property no longer in use that is causing continued maintenance expense, become eyesores, and decreasing property values.
It is to my understanding, the government gives an unfair advantage to an industry, business, or individual. I would need to look into this subject matter further. There are several different situations for subsidizing to reduce the cost of business. The understanding and concern I would have with tax increment districts is a lack of transparency, effectively bypassing the budget process. It also creates adverse competition effects between neighboring jurisdictions. Some tax payers could be paying higher taxes. Tax Abatements are a useful tool that contributes to economic development, as well as creating employment. Tax Abatements could also aid in distressed residential areas as well. The public/private partnerships could be beneficial for new school buildings, environmental wastewater, and other needed projects in Terre Haute.
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