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Issues

Serving on city council is an opportunity to represent the people of Florence. 

Making sure that ideas are heard, concerns are addressed, and that the government of the city is always moving a direction that the community wants to see it moving; that's the job. 

It's not a soapbox for the ideas of an individual, and certainly not a place to bring one's own ideas to the conversation and force them to the top of the list.  Speaking with friends, neighbors, other parents at school, at the store, and with the owners of our many small businesses, you'll get an honest take on what's going well, and areas where we might need to try something different or do a little better. 

 

Traffic

Many (myself included) see the growth of our city, and our region, first hand every day in the amount of traffic on our highways and roadways.  For those of us who have called Florence home for many years, it's frustrating that "a trip around the corner" may now take several minutes longer to complete, navigating the increased vehicle traffic, and traffic control devices between locations.

Are there solutions the city should be seeking to address an ever growing traffic problem?

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The Mall

In 1976, with expressway frontage for all of the inter-state and regional traffic on I-75, the Florence Mall was the first major indoor shopping center of its kind in our region.  Ultimately becoming nearly a million square feet under one roof, shoppers had opportunities to visit dozens of specialty shops, access entertainment, and grab a meal without commuting to multiple locations.

With the onset of the 21st century, technology powered shopping has largely replaced the access once provided by the Mall.  Items that were once only available in the specialty stores, can now be purchased inexpensively, and delivered next day or same day from regional warehouses, direct to your door. 

Where does the future of this enormous property lie?

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Public Schools

Florence is the population center of Boone County, who represents the third largest school district in our state.  With a population of nearly 40,000 residents in an established city, Florence has a large demand for schooling, but the growth in our county is outward from Florence where farmland is being converted to housing.  The investment from our school district has followed, building new facilities ever further away from the population center here.

Our school facilities; Boone County High School, Ockerman Middle, Ockerman Elementary, Collins, R.A. Jones, Florence Elementary, and A.M Yealey Elementary are long established, and can be seen to lack the appeal of the newly constructed facilities moving southward in the county.  Is the relationship between the city and our school district being used to ensure our city schools aren't an afterthought?

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Taxes and Expenses

I believe there is a fine balance between ensuring the city has the capital to operate the required public facilities, establish a reserve to address unexpected costs, and keeping the tax rate as low as possible, always exploring where that rate can be reduced without compromising the above.

The services in Florence (Police, Fire, Public Works, Facilities, Parks, Administration) are funded by tax revenue from a "work-in" payroll tax, occupational-license fees, a "real-estate" property tax, and an insurance premium tax.

These tax rates have all stayed the same (Just re-approved 9-13-2022) since 2008, and the insurance tax rate was reduced 3 years ago. 

Florence owns the baseball stadium property (and rents to the Y'alls).  There are some agreed upkeep costs in the rental agreement.

Florence owns the World of Sports golf complex / gathering center and Tin Cup restaurant, and is responsible for staffing/outsourcing operation and maintenance/upkeep.

Florence owns the Florence Aquatic Center, and is responsible for staffing/outsourcing operation and maintenance/upkeep.

All of these additional facilities, if not earning money or breaking even, are subsidized by taxes collected from the aforementioned sources.

I'm hearing, while speaking with members of the community, that we all enjoy having a city with nice amenities, but that many would like additional review of where money is going.  Should amenities be collaboratively owned by the city and county?  Is there opportunity for Boone County Schools to take a stake in a scholastic swim program?  Are there opportunities with cost reductions to reduce taxes in places?  - These are your questions, and mine as well. 

I agree that they are conversations worth exploring.

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Aaron Gillum
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