There are multiple and equally valid answers to the question of what economic issues are most importance to the future of the City of Manassas. With your indulgence, I will go down two paths of thought in short order.
Path one: SCHOOLS! Excellent schools are the catalyst for a strong economy nationally, regionally and locally. Great schools attract businesses, as well as homeowners. Property values are tied directly to the success of the schools. Great schools mean higher property values. First and foremost, our children are most important to us. In terms of assets, for most of us, our homes top the list of most important. City leaders have a responsibility to protect and support our kids and our home values. Supporting great schools achieves both goals. My wife and I are products of great public schools. Our two kids attend Manassas City Public Schools. Our public schools should be a point of great national pride. Our city schools: a point of civic pride. As a member of City Council, I will work collaboratively with our elected School Board and support the goals of our district’s administration.
Path two: The need for long-term strategic planning is the single most important economic issue facing our city. Our City’s ability to offer a high level of services and meet economic challenges demands a serious commitment to economic growth and diversifying our economic base. Voting for change on City Council on November 4, 2014 would be a vote to build a stable and sustainable tax base. As costs go up, population grows, and infrastructure ages there are essentially two tools available to city government to meet the needs of serving the population effectively and keeping Manassas a great place to live: taxation and economic development (which, in turn increases the tax base with less impact on families and the individual tax payer). As a citizen and father expecting college tuition bills soon, I am not particularly interested in raising the individual tax rate, and it is clear that the existing Council Members agree with me on that. So one wonders what these councilmen have been waiting for with regard to funding a comprehensive economic development plan. We have invested in sector plans for our city and we employ a talented City Manager and staff to develop a Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The sector plans go largely ignored and the CIP largely unfunded. In point of fact, only 20% of the CIP (those investments which our leaders deem most important to keep Manassas on track) are represented in a near-term, multi-year budget strategy. In other words, 80% is left unfunded, or, to put it more bluntly, there is no actual plan for capital improvements. Let’s fix that. Let’s return to the visionary leadership our city once enjoyed and prospered under.
For more information, please look at the issues page at www.kenelston.org/issues/