Ron Bates Greenwood City Council candidate

What are the top 3 issues facing Greenwood, and how would you address them?

Top issue is fiscal integrity. Is adamant that city has a balanced budget. Has had one all but one year and couldn’t support not having a balanced budget.

Second issue is fire and police protection. Would do everything possible to support the departments in equipment, converting firefighters to full-time and staffing fire stations. Supports hiring three new police officers in 2016 budget.

Third issue is fair and equitable representation of constituents. Wants to serve the people who put him in office.​

Is revitalizing downtown Greenwood a top priority? And if so, what should be done? And how should it be paid for?

Revitalization of downtown ​is a good thing. Has supported it so far. Is not in favor of tearing down buildings unless structural integrity is the issue. Would like to keep the downtown landmarks, and they are on-track to be revitalized with the $400,000 grant. Wants to make downtown a destination for the local community, then it can become a destination for the surrounding area. Supports small businesses. Supported putting city center downtown. Said the original intent of a TIF district was to encourage businesses to locate in a depressed economic zone, so use those funds and invest into infrastructure, and that encourages businesses to locate there. End result is to create jobs.

​What is your vision for the new interchange on I-65 at Worthsville Road? Should the city limit the type of development that can be built there? What would you want to limit?

The new interchange has been promoted as being the new gateway to the city. Some aspects of the area are outside the city’s control, such as the railroad track with faster and longer trains coming. When considering apartment complexes, city should look to comprehensive plan. Said that is a guideline for the city when considering future growth. Tries to be sensitive to Clark-Pleasant schools that growth will affect. Typically at interstate exits industrial comes first, then multifamily housing, then more residential. Sees the plan commission as a sub-committee to the council. Respects its decision-making process on issues such as zoning.​

Recently, the city has proposed changes to the zoning on land that was already approved for certain types of development, including rezoning it to agricultural use or to have less dense neighborhoods built. Do you support those proposals? Why or why not?

Does not support those proposals for several reasons. The proposals are unfair. Property has already been zoned a certain way, and property owners had plans for that property based on the zoning and shouldn’t have to hire attorneys to defend the zoning they already have. If land was zoned for agricultural use, the city council would have more control over what was developed. “But we can’t do that to supersede what it has already been zoned as, unless the property owners themselves request a certain zoning. The city should not be the petitioner to zone it differently from what it has already been zoned.​”

In the past, money collected in tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts in Greenwood has been spent on road projects, the new I-65 interchange and the new aquatic center. Do you believe TIF money has been spent appropriately? Why or why not?

Is not a big advocate of TIF districts. When the legislature created this mechanism, the intent was to use this to build infrastructure to attract businesses to an area, and everything would be there in terms of infrastructure to create jobs. Said spending TIF money on the aquatic center was a misappropriation of TIF money. While new pool is an asset to the community, the TIF money was inappropriately used. “It was miles away from the east-side TIF district that paid for it.” Said the five-member redevelopment commission that controls the TIF districts and money is powerful but is not elected by the public and has more power than the city council.

“It’s the people’s money that we’re spending. People say it’s easier to spend others people’s money. I’m an advocate for the taxpayer.”

Do you support the creation of a new TIF district along State Road 135, between Stones Crossing and Whiteland roads? Why or why not?

Already voted against it. Said city has enough TIF districts. Said the TIF is likely being proposed to have more control, but with State Road 135 being a state road, it is going to develop itself, it doesn’t need help. The project list is more than $70 million. “I understand we have to look to the future to some degree, but it just seems out of control.” Estimates that close to half of city will be in a TIF or at least close to it. ​

How would you or do you interact with the public, encourage residents to talk about issues they are concerned about and help them feel welcome addressing the city council at a meeting?

Has had town hall meetings through the years and tries to conduct them in different districts across the city. Council members let the public ask questions, and most council members attend and field questions from the populace. Said meetings are an informational and conversational time. Tries to solve issues for the public without a resident having to speak at a council meeting or file petitions, unless the resident wants to. Recently met with a resident on a parking issue. Tells residents what he will do and how he will work to get issues resolved and follows up.​