By David Lindeman
For the Troy Daily News
TROY — There was a shortage of candidates but no shortage of things to discuss at the Meet the Candidate Night held Thursday at Troy Junior High School.
With only one contested race on the Troy ballot this November, much of the evening was spent hearing from advocates of the issues that will appear on the ballot. Still, most of the questions were directed to Doug Tremblay and Cynthia Schaefer, candidates for the Ward 2 seat on Troy City Council.
Schaefer said she is running for council because “Citizen concerns have fallen on deaf ears and have not been taken seriously.” Tremblay, seeking a second term, said he sees being on council as an extension of his long-time volunteer work with many Troy civic groups.
In response to a question about the biggest challenge facing Troy, Schaefer said there are “too many people with two or three jobs in the city of Troy.” She also said, “We do not have decent, affordable housing for the people here.”
Tremblay said there is no housing crisis in Troy, and pointed to recent business expansions at Clopay and Crown Equipment as big successes in attracting business to Troy. He said the city’s biggest challenge is dealing with the cut in local government funds from the state.
Schaefer also criticized city spending at Treasure Island and Hobart Arena while Tremblay said the properties needed updating and the time was right for financing the projects. He said the city’s budget is balanced and “Everyone is going to be happy with what they see in the next two years.”
The issue that attracted the most questions was the Troy part-time firefighters referendum. Troy City Council’s proposal to hire part-time employees at the fire department was opposed by the city firefighters’ union and a successful petition drive put the issue on the November ballot.
Firefighting union President Bill Shaefer asked, “What are you willing to give up in order to save these costs?” His answer: “It’s going to cost you experience, safety to your firefighters and safety to your citizens.”
Tom Funderburg of the city of Troy said the decision was not just a cost-saving measure. He said the city had three options: the status quo, to hire additional full-time firefighters or to hire part-time firefighters. He said the part-time option would be one-third of the cost of the full-time option and would give firefighters “an extra set of hands to help them in some situations.”
Other local issues on the November ballot in Troy are:
• Issue 5, Trafalgar zoning referendum. This is a referendum on a zoning change approved by Miami County Commissioners for a 50-acre tract on Monroe-Concord Road in Concord Township. The zoning request was made by Mark Geisinger for Trafalgar Corp., which plans a housing development at the site. Trafalgar first attempted to have the land rezoned in 1995 and has lost 17 referendum votes over the past 20 years.
• Issue 11, Troy-Hayner Cultural Center 0.85, five-year tax levy renewal. Center Director Linda Lee Jolly reminded voters that since the Hayner Center was willed to the Troy School District for educational use by the Hayner family, the issue appears on the ballot as a proposed tax levy for the Troy City School District. All money from the renewal will go to operating the Hayner Center.
Jolly said the levy generates 82 percent of the center’s budget and will ensure that Hayner stays open and continues to “make great community events happen.”
• Issue 13, Miami County bridge levy renewal. This 0.45 levy renewal for bridge repair and construction in Miami County would run for five years. County Engineer Paul Huelskamp explained the levy was first passed back in 1951 and is used not only for bridge work but also to bring in matching federal funds.
• Issue 14, Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities tax levy renewal. The Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities is more commonly referred to as Riverside by local residents. The five-year, 2.5 mill levy renewal goes toward operation of Riverside’s programs for the developmentally disabled. Riverside Supt. Brian Green said the levy generates 40 percent of the board’s budget and also is used to attract matching state and federal funds.
Meet the Candidate Night is sponsored by the Leadership Troy Alumni. This year is the 25th year the group has organized the event.
David Lindeman can be reached at email@example.com.