2017 Oswego Candidate Questionnaire: Brian Thomas, Oswego Village Board
Mar 19, 2017 01:26PM ● Published by Steven Jack
Name: Brian Thomas
Employment: Self – Small Business Owner for Over 15 years.
Family: Wife and three children (ages 12, 9, and 4).
Education: A.S. Business / Certified Lead Auditor.
Previously elected office: None.
Relevant community service: Republican volunteer, over seven years of social counseling for a local youth commission.
What makes you qualified to serve on the Oswego Village Board?
As a small business owner for over 15 years, I believe I will bring a unique perspective to the Board. I have extensive experience dealing with local municipalities with regards to their local rules and regulations. I also have extensive experience in managing a staff, budgets, forecasting and projections. I believe this experience is essential when it comes to the Village Board.
What do you believe is the role of the Village Board Trustee?
We need to be more transparent with the residents. We need to provide an efficient government, and ensure that the residents are getting the most out of their tax dollars with regards to Village Staff, Public Safety, maintenance of roads and repairs without raising taxes. We need the residents to know that their voices are actually being heard, that if they speak for/against a particular issue, they know that their opinion really does matter.
Oswego continues to have large-scale retail vacancies in the Route 34 corridor. What can and should the village be doing to help fill those vacancies?
The first thing I would try to do is repeal the three- quarters percent (sales) tax increase that the Village Board approved after their third meeting of the current administration. The Board approved the increase with the hopes of generating more revenue, this tax increase (as most do) has the opposite effect of what it is intended, and instead of generating more revenue, consumers will go to the next town over to do their shopping.
As the redevelopment of Downtown Oswego begins to take shape, what specific infrastructure improvements should the village undertake to facilitate even more redevelopment?
I believe the Village has done enough already, the Village Board approved $44 Million Dollars in TIF money for the downtown TIF district, this decision (by the Board) will come with yet another tax increase that will be on the back(s) of the residents. If that wasn’t enough, the Village Board recently approved the purchase of the old Alexander Lumber parking lot for $1.5 Million Dollars, previous developers have walked away from this property due to the many challenges and problems this site causes, and the amount of money that it will cost to get the site operational could be several Million Dollars. These decisions will not change (and may get worse) if we keep electing the same people. These decisions should not have been made for the following reasons:
1. Oswego is a thriving Family community, Business should know that if they open a business that they will have the full support of the community.
2. These decisions will come with yet another tax increase to the residents, we as residents should not have to pay for this.
3. The Board will be picking winners and losers (with taxpayer money) for future projects, when this happens then everyone loses.
4. It is not fair for the Businesses that started or expanded their business, and invested their own money before the TIF district was approved, if you do it for one business then you should do it for all business.
As District 308 faces a massive budget deficit in the next five years, what do you see as the village’s responsibility in helping to lessen the impact of these deficits on all residents?
The Board needs to stop the reckless spending. The $44 Million Dollars for the downtown TIF District, along with the $1.5 Million Dollars for the purchase of the old Alexander Lumber property are going to have a big impact on future taxes. The money approved by the Board for these projects will have a dramatic effect with regards to District 308 Budget. The District is having issues with the State as far as them meeting their obligation for State funding, and now with the approval of the TIF, this will only make things worse for the District.
As the village prepares to cope with even fewer dollars from the state, are there areas in the village budget that you feel could be trimmed? If so, what specifically?
It is too early for me to say what from the Village budget should be trimmed. When services are approved and ultimately implemented, in a lot of cases it causes more harm than good (to take those services away) because now the residents expect a level of service that they ultimately deserve but didn’t previously have. With any budget, I’m sure there are some things that can be done to try and save money, whether it is renegotiating contracts, modifying the bidding process or changing the process of how it is done, but any/every decision the Board makes should be done with the support, and with the best interest of the residents.