Mike will protect your tax dollars.

Mike is passionate about using tax dollars in the most efficient and beneficial ways.  He knows those dollars are limited and earned by hardworking citizens—many of whom are on fixed incomes.  Mike has spent his life thinking about financial issues and how they impact us personally.  He graduated from college with university honors and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.  He understands financial trends, market forces, and responsible governmental spending.  As a commercial bankruptcy attorney, he knows how critical it is to properly manage and maximize one’s resources.  He critically analyzes financial commitments and considers the long-term ramifications.  Mike will aggressively employ his skills to ensure that your tax dollars are protected from abuse and misuse.  

For more information on this and other topics, please visit Mike’s blog at: www.fielding4independenceblog.com

Why are young families so essential for Independence?

The single most important thing we can and must do for the 4th District is to make it a destination location for young, home-owning families.  Why is this?  The 4th District is home to many stalwart seniors who have lived here for many decades.  They raised their families here.  They have kept the neighborhoods strong.  And, unfortunately, we are beginning to see many of them slowly moving on as age and health take their toll. 

Who will move to the 4th District as more homes become available?  The actions we take in the coming years will significantly impact that decision.  Will young families want to purchase homes to raise their children here?  Or will our neighborhoods slowly deteriorate?

The long term problems facing Independence will be most effectively tackled by putting our focus on the fundamental unit of society—the family.  Specifically, we need to make the 4th District a destination choice where young families will want to purchase homes to raise their families.  Strong families are a natural deterrent to crime.  Bringing young, home owning families into our community will increase our tax base, provide more customers with disposable income for our local businesses and strengthen our neighborhoods which will increase our property values.  In short, everyone wins when we focus on the family. 

To attract young families we need to immediately increase our police force so that they can more effectively fight crime in Independence.  We need to increase our fire personnel so they can more quickly arrive on the scene when medical emergencies, auto accidents and fires occur.  We must have effective code compliance so that our neighborhoods will be clean and inviting when families look for homes here.  We also need to vigorously market Independence in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area to dispel the misleading myths that some have about our great city.  Finally, we must continue to promote job creation through sensible economic development efforts. 

For more information on this and other topics, please visit Mike’s blog at: www.fielding4independenceblog.com

How can we get effective code compliance?

An important key to the 4th District’s long-term stability directly depends upon our ability to make it a destination location for young, home-owning families.  To do this, the city needs to have an effective code compliance program to guarantee that neighborhoods remain attractive. 

Given the city’s limited resources, it is essential that we leverage our tax dollars so they are spent in the most efficient and effective way possible.  In terms of code compliance, this means the city needs to greatly expand its Neighborhood Code Compliance Program (“NCCP”).  According to the city (see www.ci.independence.mo.us/City7/CityConnect.aspx), neighborhoods that have gone through the NCCP have seen a whopping increase from 57% to 98% code compliance.  That is a lot of bang for the buck!

The NCCP is a simple process.  A city official does a visual, outside inspection of all the homes in a neighborhood.  Letters are sent to each resident informing them whether or not any code violations exist.  The city then brings in dumpsters and designates a day for residents to dispose of their trash and other yard debris at no cost to them.  The city does a follow-up inspection and issues warnings to any residents that are not in compliance.  As a last resort, the city will pursue legal action if a resident continues to not comply.  

The city also needs to continue its regular code enforcement.  Code compliance must be easy to understand, objective and uniformly applied.  Landlords must be held accountable to properly maintain their properties. 

In addition to the NCCP, the city needs to more aggressively promote the creation of homeowners associations.  This can be done by creating simple, model guidelines which home owners can adopt and easily implement.  Homeowners associations provide the means by which residents can take pride and more of a personal stake in their neighborhood.  Homeowners associations save taxpayer money because the associations can focus on code compliance before the city ever becomes involved.  This allows the city to focus its limited resources on neighborhoods where problems persist. 

For more information on this and other topics, please visit Mike’s blog at: www.fielding4independenceblog.com
The critical need to increase public safety personnel

Mike will focus on increasing police and fire personnel. Over the years, increases in police and fire personnel have not kept pace with Independence’s population growth.  There is a tremendous need for more manpower to respond to the increasing demands in our city.  We must increase our police force to get more patrols, more crimes being investigated and better backup support.   Let’s send a clear message to criminals to steer clear of the city.

We also need to increase our fire personnel.  In 2010, the fire department responded to 16,718 calls.  Frequently, lives are on the line as nearly 2/3 of all calls are medical.  A delayed response is simply unacceptable when its your emergency. 

Funding for these increases needs to be thoroughly explored.  The city needs to aggressively audit itself to identify funds that can be reallocated to the police and fire departments.  Cost saving measures should be employed to their fullest extent.  In this day and age of corporate downsizing, the city should consider reassigning police and fire management to positions where critical services can be provided to residents.  

Proposed tax increases must be put to a direct vote by the citizens.  In April 2012, the city will have a ballot measure to raise property taxes to fund 42 positions in the police department (34 officers and 8 civilians).  The proposed increase is $.3629 per $100 of assessed valuation which translates to $68.95 per year on a home with an assessed market value of $100,000.  

In the long term, Independence needs to aggressively focus on attracting new residents and shoppers to the city.  If we can get more people living and/or shopping in Independence we will be able to increase general fund revenues without raising taxes.  To get more people here we have to make the city a destination location for younger, home-owning families.  This means we have to aggressively market the city.  We also need to focus on effective code compliance because clean, strong neighborhoods will be more attractive to residents with relatively higher incomes.  

          In short, public safety increases is a priority that Mike will address in 2012.

For more information on this and other topics, please visit Mike’s blog at: www.fielding4independenceblog.com
How do we increase jobs in Independence?

The most effective and efficient way to increase jobs is through the growth of existing businesses in our City.  If 500 businesses each added a single employee the net economic effect would be better than if a large employer came to town and hired 500 workers because the infrastructure cost to the city and taxpayers would be far less.  We must grow our own economic garden!

Jobs come as businesses increase their revenue.  To help increase these revenues the City must aggressively focus on attracting people to Independence who will spend money here.  This includes new residents, shoppers and tourists.  We have much to offer to these groups—affordable homes, a variety of retail stores and singularly unique tourist attractions. 

Independence should continue to offer incentives to developers who want to establish businesses in our City.  However, tax breaks and other economic incentives need to be conditioned on actual performance and not “pie in the sky” projections which later prove to be inaccurate.  There should be no free handouts that are subsidized on the backs of taxpaying citizens. 

The City must minimize the cost and hassle of businesses and individuals dealing with city government.  Just because a process may be “cheap or easy” for the city official does not mean its best for the community.  The City should ensure that permits and other compliance related issues are streamlined, uniformly applied and easy to understand. 

Independence needs to also collaboratively work with the Chamber of Commerce as well as other state and local economic development groups.  It must also continue to actively participate in regional initiatives and goals because job creation in neighboring communities means there will be new residents and shoppers coming to Independence. 

For more information on this and other topics, please visit Mike’s blog at: www.fielding4independenceblog.com

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Mike Fielding is running for the Independence 4th District City Council seat.  He is a commercial bankruptcy attorney.  As parents of six children (ages 2 – 13), Mike and his wife have a vested interest in making sure the 4th District remains strong and vibrant for years to come

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Paid for by Citizens to Elect Mike Fielding ~ Terri Love, Treasurer

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