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Village finances a hot topic in mayors’ races

October 14, 2011
By Ashley Rittenhouse - The Marietta Times (arittenhouse@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

Voters in the villages of Lowell and New Matamoras will be asked on the Nov. 8 general election ballot to select a mayor for the villages.

In both cases, the current mayors are running once again for the seat.

Those candidates say their main priorities range from funding the villages' swimming pools to keeping the villages safe, and all the candidates agreed that operating the villages with limited funds available will continue to be a challenge.

Lowell

Douglas Seese, who has served as Lowell's mayor for about 12 years, is vying for the seat again along with current Lowell Village Council member David Pitzer.

Seese, 44, said he's running again because he wants to "keep things moving" in the right direction in the village.

"As with most governmental agencies, we have a tight budget, and to continue doing the things we would like to try to get done, I felt like I wanted to stay with it one more term," he said. "We have to, to the best of our ability, keep the streets up, buildings and grounds and we want to make sure we don't extend ourselves too far to where we can't take care of (our employees), as well."

Seese said he believes the village's biggest issues are its aging sewer plant and sewer lines, as well as the funding of its pool.

"Our sewer plant is approaching 25 years old. It's functioning today but we have to plan for the future," he said. "The main sewer trunk lines were put in during the WPA (Work Projects Administration) era - between 1935 and 1937."

Seese noted that it is likely that about 1,000 feet of sewer lines will eventually need to be replaced, at an estimated cost of about $140,000.

"The biggest headache - and it's the same with any municipality - is the swimming pool. They're a money pit," Seese added.

Seese said new Americans with Disabilities Act regulations which require that public pools have at least two means for people with disabilities to enter the water will be costly to comply with.

"We're trying to find some funding to help pay for a lift," he said.

Seese said it's important that the pool stay open for the public use.

"It's a safety thing...it keeps the kids out of the river and in the pool," he said.

David Pitzer, 30, has been a member of Lowell Village Council for almost four years.

"I just think the younger generation needs to get involved in the community," he said, about why he chose to run for a higher office.

Pitzer said he believes the biggest challenge for the village is continuing to operate with limited funds available.

"Our issues are going to continue with the decrease in funding from the state down to the local level and we need to continue to monitor our spending because the money coming in is not going to be as much as in previous years," he said. "We need to make decisions wisely and monitor that."

Pitzer said if elected mayor, it would also be a priority of his to communicate with residents and council members.

"We are public servants to members of the village and we need to address their concerns once they have them in a timely manner," he said.

New Matamoras

Running for the mayor's seat in New Matamoras are current mayor Dennis A. Agin and John K. Schmidt.

Agin, 64, has served four years as mayor. He said he's running again because there are still some things he'd like to get accomplished.

"We're starting a new water project. We're going to extend the water line (and) I'd like to see that accomplished (and) I'd like to see getting a few more businesses in town," Agin said. "We just in the last year or so had the new Dollar General store come in and they're doing really good and I'm hoping other small businesses might look at that and look at us as a place to open up."

Agin said "beefing up the police force" is another thing he would do if re-elected mayor.

"We have three good young officers and it would be my hope to bring in more reserve officers to beef up what we have," he said. "We have some problems in town - no more than anyone else - but (residents) deserve as much police protection as we can afford to give."

Agin said properties in New Matamoras that are not maintained are also a big concern of his.

"We have a few places in town that we need to get cleaned up," he said. "We have several that we're looking at different ways to see what we can do about getting them torn down or at least cleaned up."

Schmidt, 61, has served as mayor of New Matamoras and president of the village's council but he's been out of village politics for several years because his wife fell ill.

He said he's running for mayor again because he wants to use his experience to help the village deal with a "money crunch."

"The state has cut back and when the state cuts back, you have to learn how to live within your means (but) I am dead against raising taxes, period," Schmidt said. "During my administration as mayor in the village, we obtained over $1.5 million in grants for the Village of Matamoras (and) I want to continue doing this...for fire, police, safety, water lines, sewer lines, anything we can do and get for the village."

Schmidt said it's also very important to him that the village's pool continue to operate. He said he thinks a founder's day festival that used to be held in the village should begin again and money from it should be used for pool expenses.

He said he sees the pool as a tool to keep children in the village safe because it's a place they can spend time in the summers.

Also with the safety of children in mind, he said as mayor, he would put police officers on the street to monitor them.

"I'd like to see police officers out in the morning when children go to school and I want to see police officers out late at night doing the patrolling," Schmidt said. "You see on television things that happen to children."

Like Agin, Schmidt said he is also concerned about properties in the village that are not maintained.

"There are laws that state how you should maintain your property and...you see everybody abides by the ordinances and not single out (residents)," Schmidt said

 
 

 

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