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Terre Haute City Common Council, District 6

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: Martha Crossen

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    Martha Crossen
    (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 marthacrossen1@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (812) 243-3646
Education B.S. Kansas State University 1972, M.S. Iowa State University 1974, J.D. Ohio State University 1979
Occupational history and current position I am currently retired from business but am a sitting City Council member. From 1979 - 1988 I held several legal positions in Ohio State Government and was briefly in private practice in Ohio. Since moving to Terre Haute in 1988 my employment has been: Development Director for Indiana Legal Services Corporation ; Executive Director, YWCA of Terre Haute; Partner, Simbol and Crossen Law Firm and Owner, River Wools
Other public or political offices held, and when I have not held other elective office but have served on many non-profit boards and community organizations.
Other past candidacy for public office I ran for Vigo County School Board in 1998.
I am proud of my work on City Council as we dramatically decreased the deficit over the past four years. While we had significant success, our city is limited in addressing quality of life issues until the deficit is behind us. The other questions in this survey rely, in part, on having healthy city finances. Our city bond rating is lower than it should be, making it more difficult to finance needed city projects and harder to get others to invest in our community. Eliminating the deficit is critical.

City Council does not control the day to day administration of the city. It has been difficult to obtain information from the administration and financial reports are months late in arriving. I implore the next Mayor to provide Council with timely financials. Information is part of transparency and needs to improve.
We need a city plan for development. We need to fill the planner position in the Department of Redevelopment, which has been empty for several years, or create a similar position elsewhere.

We often only look at development from a dollars-in:dollars-out point of view. That view has validity but shouldn’t be our only focus. The casino is an example. I am not convinced that the money it will generate will make up for the dollars needed to deal with the resulting stress in our community.

Having worked and owned a business in downtown Terre Haute (DTH), I believe the DTH improvements have been important. I know some feel DTH has gotten too much attention, but I believe that a crumbling downtown will always tell the story of a crumbling community. We must, however, put strong effort into other areas of our city as well.

The work being done by citizen groups along the Wabash River and in Twelve Points offer a template that may work in other parts of the city.
This will take commitment from all corners of our community: all branches of government, business, social services, churches and individuals. In District 6, which I represent, people live at all levels of economic status from quite wealthy to the poorest of our citizens. Within all of those economic strata there are vital organizations and individuals trying to make the community better. My observation is that those in the higher economic strata have greater access to the planning efforts going on in the community. We cannot afford to leave parts of our city behind.

Those doing work in the Herz-Rose Park area of the city have had some success reaching citizens by reaching out to neighborhood residents through use of the Park and other neighborhood groups. Using this model, I propose a series of community meetings utilizing our neighborhood parks and community centers to give voice to our neighborhoods. Space is limited here – please call me for my other ideas and to share yours
As I walk door to door and field calls from constituents I hear most about issues of code enforcement (blighted properties, animal control issues, etc.) street and alley conditions, and trash problems. Here are some steps I think would yield positive results:

1. Continue narrowing the budget deficit so that we are not borrowing to pay our everyday bills.

2. Do a comprehensive analysis of the current budget and operations to see where monies can be saved and/or reallocated to get a better result. This has to be done with the cooperation of the mayor.

3. Have a plan for ongoing replacement of inadequate or aging infrastructure so that we have fewer emergency repairs (sink holes). When infrastructure becomes an emergency, it is usually much more expensive than planned maintenance.

4. Increase our code enforcement staff with monies saved from the review above.

5. Work with other agencies and groups to educate citizens to achieve a cleaner Terre Haute and improved animal control.
These are all just tools which are sometimes useful and are sometimes not the tool for the job.

The development of Downtown Terre Haute is a case in point where a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district has allowed us to greatly improve our city.

Tax abatements are sometimes justifiable and other times are not warranted. I have voted for and against proposed abatements and I will continue to look at them on a case by case basis. To support an abatement, I must be convinced a tangible positive result would be jeopardized if the abatement were not granted. For example, the gain may be particularly good paying jobs, a reuse of a building or lot which has been unused for some time, or improvements to a business that will result in more jobs or higher assessments over time. The City Council reviews tax abatements on a regular schedule and has ended abatements when businesses have failed to achieve the promised results.

Public/private partnerships are vital tools which I support.