Banach speaks: an interview with City Councilman Jason Banach, R-2nd.

By Scott Tibbs

Hoosier Review: What do you think the City needs to do over the next few years?:
Jason Banach: a) Encourage economic development; b.) Encourage affordable housing; c) reign in taxes; d) continue to curb crime and violence.

The specific things the council needs to do is:
a) Provide incentives for developers who will undertake affordable housing projects-to be more of a helping hand than a stumbling block.
b) Provide the police department with needed resources in whatever way we can.
c) Continue to streamline departments and perhaps look at competitive bidding.
d) provide incentives and a helping hand to industry or business that want to locate here - make Bloomington more "marketable."

HR: With the high taxes in Bloomington, do you see a possibility for a tax cut? If a tax cut is proposed, what is the probability of it passing?:
JB: I think that you may be confused about tax "rates" and actual taxes. The tax rate in Bloomington is very average. The amount of increases in the actual taxes is what concerns most citizens. However, on an actual property tax bill only about 1/3 of the taxes you pay actually go to the city. The rest is county, schools, etc. A tax cut, depending on how you mean it could mean two things - it could mean you will actually pay LESS next year than you did this year - or it could be a slowing of the rate of growth. I would like to see either a slowing in the rate of growth or a freeze. I think it is possible to operate the city, at the same level of service, while implementing a freeze. And No, a CUT would have a -10% chance of passing.

HR: What do you think should be done in terms of reducing the regulatory burden in Bloomington?
JB: Regulations are an important part of city government, but they can get carried to extremes. I believe that certain regulations governing things such as electricity in new construction, building materials, etc. needs to be regulated. An average Joe such as myself EXPECTS proper electrical and water service to their home, and I am not an expert on either. The regulations themselves do not drive up the cost of living an exorbitant amount. There are however items such as the sewer hook on fee of $500, which I think should be reduced.

HR: are there any specific things the council has done which you think are mistakes, or particular thinks the council has done right?
JB: Overall I think the City Council has done a good job over the years. I am often disappointed in the way a vote turns out, but rarely thought it would be an unrecoverable mistake. One big mistake I think the council made was the implementation of the trash bag system. We are already paying for sanitation pickup through our taxes, we don't need a user fee besides. One of the most commendable things the council has done is the passing of the city's growth policies plan and Master Zoning Plan. It was a well thought out plan that gives the city direction on how it can be best developed.

HR: The Thomson corporation has received a great deal of criticism for its decision to leave Bloomington. Is there any reason to have sympathy on Thomson?
JB: The closing of the Thomson plant is a tragic blow to the Bloomington community. Thy were an example of a business the many incentives the community provided it to stay here. The city has learned a valuable lesson from this, but our hands are tied. I don't think there is any reason to have sympathy for the Thomson corporation. However, they are a business and are doing what it takes to stay competitive in today's market and that is the harsh reality of a corporation. Unfortunately it is ALL about the bottom line.

HR: Why should students vote? How important is the student vote?
JB: Students should vote in Bloomington because it is their home most of the year. The student vote is a powerful voice, if only they would exercise it more. As a matter of fact, the student vote could swing ANY election in the city. Your council representation is very important. Everything you do in Bloomington while you're a student here from parking in the city, to how a police officer can treat you to something as minor as what cable channels you may or may not get. Your council representation is the root of your day to day activities - what you can and can't do.

HR: What do you think are the prospects for the Republican Party in 1999 in terms of the mayor's race and the City Council?
JB: It is too early to predict the GOP prospects for 1999. There are way too many variables at this point.

The Bloomington Common Council meets at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights in the Showers Center on 7th street in downtown Bloomington.

Mike Trotzke

Sean Frick

Eric Seymour