|Mike Morris, Mayor of Monroe, wants to be re-elected to Monroe City Council. Below are his answers to questions put forth by posters from this website.
Why are you running for Council?
In this age of nasty politics, I have often asked myself that very question, both when I was running for my first term in office and virtually every morning thereafter. I can say that my answer is still the same as it was four years ago... My family and I are devoted to this city! I also believe my 32 years of experience in transportation and land use planning is valuable to this city. With this expertise, I want to continue to help Monroe balance its residential land use and economic policies.
More than ever before, our city has experienced significant growing pains; some of these pains were anticipated, some were unexpected. In any case, there is no doubt they have stressed our financial resources and our ability to provide necessary and supplemental amenities and services that our residents have come to expect and enjoy as part of living in Monroe.
However, this pain has resulted in positive change in how the city manages its finances. With a new, cooperatively developed 5-year financial plan, excellent schools, outstanding emergency response services and our capital improvement program (streets, parks, etc.), I believe Monroe will continue to face new challenges as we attract businesses and strive to provide a wonderful quality of life for our citizens.
That’s why, after considerable discussions with my family, I have chosen to once again run for council. With their full support and yours, I hope to continue to work toward making our city the best it can be.
What is your #1 priority for the City?
Bringing financial stability back to the city is the #1 issue. We now have the complete picture of where we stand. We have already made significant changes in the way we function, Unfortunately, as part of that, Council and staff have had to make some tough decisions in the past few months to balance revenues and spending. However, we are now able to move forward and continue to improve our city’s economic future. To help accomplish this task, staff and Council will put together a 5-year financial plan with strict budget controls. This plan, along with additional third-party review, will ensure our city’s future economic vitality.
The situation we have been dealing with has been a true learning experience -- We learned to never let this happen ever again.
Where do you stand on Parks
I believe development and expansion of our park system has to be a high priority for the next administration. The city now controls enough land at two sites to keep pace with the growing demands for recreational amenities and greenspace. In addition, to be able to continue to preserve park land and enhance our community, I am convinced we must have a dedicated fund that is used solely for park development. This fund should also be used in a way that allows our parks and recreational lands to serve residents of all ages.
Who is responsible for our budget problems?
Bottom line – Council is ultimately responsible for the city finances.
As elected officials, council sets the city’s policies and approve budgets a year in advance based on information that is placed before us by the professionals we have hired to protect our city, including fire, police, and accounting. Unfortunately, in this situation, the city was abused.
Council has been working with our staff to establish a system of checks and balances to try and make sure that our city and future Councils won’t face future financial surprises. A key component of this has been the appointment of a 4 person independent audit committee. As a result of this oversight by outside third-parties, Monroe will be assured that the information provided by our in-house professionals will be accurate and complete. God willing and with this review, this situation will never happen again.
What do you plan to do about the Vets memorial?
The Veterans Memorial is an important part of our overall downtown streetscape development plan that was adopted by Council in 1999. I would like to see a committee of interested citizens, business leaders, Veterans, and community leaders, pick up the plans and pursue the development of the memorial that honors not only our servicemen and women, but our heroes in the police and fire service. The memorial could be built a piece at a time by donated services, private contributions and fund raising.
Why? We never should forget -- whether it is the efforts of our military during the Great Wars, the heroes of 9/11, the efforts of a fallen police officer who responded to a local crime, or a fire fighter taken down during a rescue of a Monroe family. We all need to remember. Having personally experienced the valor of Monroe’s finest, I hope future Councils will take this issue on and build a Memorial that will make our city proud.
Are you in favor of the State Route 63 Extension?
The city has taken a very firm stance on this issue.
We have said all along that we don’t see a significant benefit to the city of Monroe. However, we believe that it would be in our best interest to cooperate with Butler County’s efforts to move this project forward. Western Butler County has a need for a safe East-West transportation system. The SR63 extension could produce economic growth for Butler County, and perhaps even the City of Monroe.
While we are supporting Butler County, we will not contribute any dollars to this project. Our focus continues to be on the improvement of the I-75/SR63 interchange and the upgrade of the portion of SR63 that borders the 800 acre commercial/industrial park within our city.
If the bypass is approved and funded, Monroe is on record with both ODOT and Butler County that specific improvements to existing SR63 need to be funded as part of the project.