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Terre Haute City Common Council, District 4

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: Todd Nation

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  • Candidate picture

    Todd Nation
    (Dem)

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 booknation@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (812) 870-4986
Education Diploma with Honors, Terre Haute North Vigo High School, 1983. Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors, Purdue University, 1987
Occupational history and current position Bookseller, BookNation, 1991 - 2012. Property Manager, Nation Properties, 1995 - present. Carpenter, 2012 - present.
Other public or political offices held, and when former Democratic Precinct Committeeman, 5-C.
Other past candidacy for public office None.
We need to continue to dig city government out of the hole that Mayor Duke Bennett has led us into over the last ten years. Through the leadership of our current City Council, things have improved financially in recent years, but we still rely too heavily on short term borrowing and are millions of dollars in debt. The city's bond rating is historically low now too, which means we pay higher interest rates than we should on most borrowing.

The elimination of short term borrowing and rebuilding positive fund balances is my personal goal for City government -- a goal that I believe is shared by a majority of our current City Council.
As a strong supporter of Riverscape and our local arts community, I continue to support efforts to connect Terre Haute residents back to the Wabash River. I am eager to see Turn to the River move from the design phase to construction, and I look forward to continuing to help foster a culture that embraces our local natural and artistic resources. In the long term, I believe this strategy will yield positive results for Terre Haute.

As a longtime supporter of our downtown, I continue to seek opportunities to bring underutilized buildings back into productive use. I am excited about the planned rehabilitation of the derelict YMCA building at 6th and Walnut, which will eventually yield over three dozen units of affordable housing. A similar project just east of downtown, at the former Miller Parrott cracker factory across from Gilbert Park, will have a transformative effect on that area.
My constituents and I continue to be concerned about quality of life issues in our neighborhoods: broken streets and sidewalks, dead trees in the tree rows, litter and property crimes. With the Vigo County Council's recent adoption of tax increases to fund a new Vigo County Jail, city government faces some decisions about how to spend our share of the "new money" that will be collected.

As I stated above, I believe we need to continue to rebuild our fund balances and wean ourselves off of short term borrowing. That said, I also believe city government should step up efforts to rebuild our broken infrastructure and add Code Enforcement officers to help compel property owners to clean up messes on private property throughout the city.
I believe we should be moving faster to finish the reconstruction of Margaret Avenue and petitioning state government to move the Emergency Route for I-70 away from downtown. Long term, it makes sense for Margaret Avenue to become parallel relief for I-70, rather than run thousands of trucks and other vehicles through the heart of our city when there is an accident on the interstate. Getting that traffic off of our local streets will be good for citizens and good for our maintenance efforts. With the Margaret Avenue overpass almost finished, we are closer than ever to achieving this goal.

In my opinion, the final phases of Margaret Avenue should be funded by the "WalMart TIF" on State Road 46. Since Margaret Avenue serves that TIF District, money already being collected from developers at SR 46 and I-70 can legitimately be used to finish this long term effort.
I believe that TIF Districts and tax abatements are necessary tools for us to use, and I try to do the due diligence necessary to assess representations being made by petitioners and their lawyers. I don't vote for every scheme purporting to create jobs or spur development that is brought to the City Council, but I try to remain realistic about what government is able to do to help. Often, use of these tools is presented as "mandatory" to landing a company expansion or a new employer. In my role as a City Councilman, I try to find the truth behind these representations and vote accordingly.

I also believe that once a tax abatement is granted, the company benefitting from it needs to hold up their end of the deal. Annual review of compliance to the terms that we all agree to when an abatement is adopted is something I take seriously. In recent years, I have led efforts to rescind abatements when the company benefitting from them is not doing what they pledged to do.