With early voting now underway through Saturday, Aug. 20, and the Primary Election set for Tuesday, Aug. 23, the Chronicle asked a number of questions about issues the county is facing with Diana Finegan, candidate for BOCC District 2.
Question: Have you read the county budget? What areas could produce savings and what areas could use more funding?
Answer: Yes. For FY 2023, the proposed county budget reflects general fund reserves at 16.3 percent, saving the highest amount of money in ten years. Last year, the reserves were funded at 14.5 percent. The county has a policy to place between 8 percent and 17 percent of ad valorem taxes in reserves. Reserves are very important, but, while our tax payers are concerned with skyrocketing inflation, if the county saved at the mid-rate of 12.5 percent, that would yield an additional $3.8 million in spendable money for county needs. To find additional savings, one would need to look at the comprehensive budget for each department. The county budget for public view reflects summary line items for each department.
Question: How would you approach working as “one of five” – that is, what are your strengths and how would you leverage them on a team?
Answer: Working as “one of five” I would identify the strengths of others and work as a team to serve as a member of a cohesive board. I have formed partnerships to achieve goals my entire professional career in both for-profit and nonprofit business. I have been a member of local boards and one state board. I’ve been to numerous state trainings where I participated in group work geared at fine-tuning team building skills.
As CEO of CASA, I worked with my own board on a regular basis. In my 25 years of leadership experience, I’ve partnered with other agencies and businesses and understand the give-and-take process of working as a team to reach a common goal. In business, I have partnered under contract with small nonprofits and large corporations, such as Lowe’s. I was also part of a leadership team in Citrus County. County leaders would meet monthly to strengthen our community and find solutions in regards to the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare.
Question: What is smart growth and how should the county achieve it?
Answer: Smart growth is bringing good-paying jobs to Citrus County while avoiding sprawl and maintaining the rural beauty of our community. The county can achieve this by directing where new growth goes with our comprehensive plan and placing infrastructure such as water, sewer and broadband internet in areas where we want to attract economic development.
Question: Economic development in Citrus County has languished for decades. Do you have any ideas on attracting business and if so, what type of business is best suited? Also, are incentives on the table for business development, and if so, what incentives do you feel are appropriate?
Answer: The best-suited businesses are those offering full-time employment and living wages. Tax incentives to prospective businesses would be appropriate only if that business offered more money to our tax base annually and jobs paying living wages.
Question: How do you address the issue of affordable housing and what are best methods to attract qualified developers?
Answer: There hasn’t been an issue attracting qualified developers; the issue has been the placement for the developers. Developers have been working on putting low-income housing in Meadowcrest and the people in Pine Ridge are fearing the development of high-density, low-income housing on a former golf course in Pine Ridge. The county should not be encouraging high-density, low-income housing in these neighborhoods. The county could be offering support to affordable housing providers, such as Habitat for Humanity, to help with water and sewer connections, but they have not.
Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of universal waste collection? Do you support it?
Answer: Universal waste collection can be beneficial as it would alleviate illegal dumping and trash burning and there would be less garbage trucks driving on our roads. The advantage should also be cost. If one provider has the business of our entire county, the taxpayers should see a savings, or at the very least, equal cost. If universal waste collection could be implemented in Citrus County without an increase in cost to the taxpayer, I would support it.
Question: Do you believe the 2020 Presidential Election was fraudulent? Yes or No.
Answer: What does the 2020 Presidential Election have to do with the 2022 County Commission election? Was there fraud? Yes.