Chamber Questions

Transparency is a core value for me, so here are my full answers to the Chamber of Commerce that will be presented on Oct 2.  The Chamber’s online tool was limiting and they have stated they plan to edit answers, so here is what I submitted today.

Question 1: 
How has your background and experiences prepared you for a seat on Town Council?

I am a castle Rock resident for almost 20 years, an IT professional with 30 years of experience, and a dedicated volunteer with the town for almost 10 years.

Professionally, I manage large-scale technological initiatives, and my area of expertise is around building requirements, designing solutions and getting commitments and support from large groups of stakeholders.  I am used to dealing with multimillion-dollar budgets, complexly interwoven designs, federal and state regulations and compliance, and balancing needs of multiple customer types.

I am passionate about this town and have spent the last decade learning about the town, participating in volunteer activities, and being an advocate for the numerous initiatives I have been involved with. I am prepared for this responsibility and opportunity.  I listen to everyone, I embrace multiple perspectives and solutions.  I evaluate data, and prioritize outcomes and deliver results, on time, and under budget.  I approach every situation knowing that everyone has something to contribute, that not everyone knows everything, and that the most robust solutions involve participation and engagement of the stakeholders

Question 2: 
What do you consider to be the two most critical Business Issues confronting Castle Rock? Why?

These answers are based off the general trends that have been published from various surveys over the past 20 years.

  1.  Lack of Primary Employment Opportunities.
    1. Lack of primary employment drives the highest earners outside of the Town during prime business hours.  This lowers the amount of potential revenue available to businesses during normal operating hours.  Further because of the preponderance of minimum wage jobs, the individuals who are in Town are on a much tighter budget.
    2. Derivative 1- National Retail and Fast Food chains rely on tight control over personnel expenses to make their operating models work.  This encourages high turnover of staff because a dollar/hour difference is a 10% delta in PayScale.  This has increased training, retention and operating costs for our local businesses.  I have repeatedly heard that high turnover is a major source of frustration for local businesses.
  2. Transportation planning, specifically congestion/mass transit and parking.
    1. Congestion- Outbound congestion and increases to commute times into Denver are making Castle Rock less appealing as a bedroom community.  Based on historical surveys a sizable portion of residents chose Castle Rock because of the ease of access into Denver and Colorado Springs.
    2. Congestion-Inbound congestion is a byproduct of the preponderance of minimum wage jobs, as the majority of employees at these businesses are unable to live in this community where they work.  Inbound congestion and commute times make our local jobs even less appealing to commuters, further impacting employee retention rates.
    3. Mass Transit solutions into and out of Town will be needed to help address the congestion
    4. Parking- Downtown parking is a disaster, with a complete lack of capacity.  This has a negative impact on casual spending and a direct impact on Downtown event participation and turnout.  Founders parking has a different problem, in that the huge swaths of land dedicated to parking are ugly, lacking in proper amounts of shade and landscaping and are increasingly being repurposed for additional buildings, and creating unpleasant and dangerous traffic and parking issues.

Question 2A: 

How do you think Town Council should address these issues in the future?

Regardless of the issue, Town Council should always have an open conversation with Business and Residents.  Town Council should encourage incentives over regulations.

Town Council should prioritize desired outcomes for businesses and residents and direct staff to research and propose solutions that address the stated problems with objectives and key results documented.

Where I believe the answers reside are in the following generalizations:

  1. Change incentives for development and commercial activities to encourage primary employers.  Currently, too many incentives are being used to promote growth that is not helping the town maintain the four cornerstones outlined in the Master Plans.
  2. Objectives and key results need to be tied to what matters to the community.  To use public works as an example, they utilize metrics and grading criteria established at the federal level and used by most municipalities to evaluate traffic, signaling and overall flow.  These are great metrics and are important, but if the objective is to continue our residential growth as a bedroom community, a primary objective would be a pleasant commuting experience, and a key result could be a specific goal on how long it should take to get onto the Interstate.  Clearly stated key results are critical to developing and building capital and infrastructure that supports those results.
    1. Another example would be parking and metrics that establish lot sizes based off SUV/Truck footprints, not compact car footprints.
Question 3
Do you support repealing the grocery tax? (Please explain answer on 3A)

First, there is no grocery tax.  What we have is a sales tax that did not provide exemptions for groceries.  A Grocery exemption is common in most areas with Sales Tax. 

The grocery tax is a disingenuous topic that is acting as camouflage to a create a referendum on government taxation and spending.

We need an honest discussion on what we are trying to solve. 

  1. Overlarge Tax Burden on low/fixed income residents
  2. Reducing town spending, town services

If the concern is that the grocery tax is regressive for low- and fixed-income residents and we want to empower our most vulnerable, then we have a bigger issue.  All taxes are either regressive or progressive, in Colorado the only progressive tax structures are the Federal and State Income taxes.

We need to address the Grocery Sales Tax Exemption.  Through repeal and replace, the introduction of credits or rebates, or a diversification of tax revenue from additional sources should all be options on the table.  I am not a tax expert, nor will I pretend to be.  This is a complicated matter that must be addressed with care, so we do not create more problems than we are solving.

Under a regressive tax system, individuals and entities with low incomes pay a higher amount of that income in taxes compared to high-income earners.

Under a progressive tax system, the taxes assessed are based on the taxable amount, and follow an accelerating schedule.

Castle Rock and Douglas County already suffer from several leaders that automatically vilify the word progressive without truly understanding what it means or how we would need to implement a structure to help and protect our most vulnerable.

If the concern is to reduce town spending on services like Police, Fire, Roads, and Parks and open space, I (and the majority of residents) would be against reducing the town’s spending which would reduce our quality of life services.

Question 4:  Do you believe that it is important for Castle Rock residents to have primary employment opportunities in our community? 

Primary employment is critical to Castle Rock’s long-term success.  As a bedroom community it is already losing appeal because of increased commute times.  Retail stores are no longer growing revenue materially as the number of customers is limited.  High paying primary employment that allows residents to live and work in the same community, or that promotes inbound traffic that hopefully stays to participate in our events are where the growth potential for the town truly reside.

Question 5:  
How important is it for Castle Rock to be a Business Friendly community?
Very important- my selection
Somewhat important
Not important at all

 Question 6:
What does the term Business Friendly mean to you?

The term business-friendly has been co-opted in recent years to center around reducing taxes. removing regulations and keeping government out of the way of business.

A business-friendly community welcomes businesses that contribute to the quality and character of the community.  Such a community would support business with educated employees, strong infrastructure, efficient and well-maintained transportation systems, and robust public safety services.  A community with all these characteristics would also have the absolute best customers for business.

A business-friendly community would also improve opportunity, transparency, and accountability for buyers and sellers.

Castle Rock is falling behind in terms of timely and adequately funding roads and public safety.

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