Downtown, budget priorities for Rockwell candidates
By Nathan Hardin
ROCKWELL — After facing an almost $100,000 budget shortfall for the 2011-12 year, Rockwell’s candidates for aldermen are making balancing the budget the highest priority.
Charles Wingerson, an incumbent alderman, said the town can get through the economic issues by pinching pennies.
“The solution is to look over every line item in the budget,” Wingerson said, “to see what impact any cuts would have on the citizens.”
Wingerson noted that the town also needs to look for any grants or available funds for town projects. “We’re at bare bones right now,” Wingerson said. “We need to watch every dime.”
Incumbent alderman Chuck Bowman said the challenge is that the town, which is operating with just nine full-time employees, is struggling to just “maintain services.”
In August, Rockwell added a $5 charge to residents’ water bills for garbage pick-up to help offset the budget shortfall.
“As elected officials, we have to keep a close eye on our resources,” Bowman said. “It’s just challenging times. We’re fortunate to have some really good town employees.”
Timothy Justin Crews, another incumbent alderman, agreed, saying officials need to cut unnecessary expenditures “and we need to make sure what we spend is definitely needed.”
But not every candidate thinks the town government is spending wisely.
Challenger Chris Stiller said he would like to see a “better effort” made at cutting unnecessary spending. “We’re in a time now that we have to look at our spending and cut every corner we possibly can,” Stiller said. “I don’t think Rockwell’s doing that.”
Several candidates think more business will be drawn to the downtown area if the town government continues making the downtown revitalization a priority.
“To bring more business to Rockwell, we need to continue to revitalize downtown Rockwell to make it more appealing to businesses in Rockwell,” said incumbent alderman Tim Draper.
Eric Moore said similarly that an enhanced downtown area could showcase a lively community presence. “If you have an appealing downtown, that would attract not only more downtown business,” Moore said, “it would show Rockwell as a lively community where citizens are looking for employment.”