Tiffin City Council candidates answered questions on issues such as economic development and joint court space at the 2013 Candidates Night Wednesday.
Candidates explained how the city could promote economic development beyond the revitalization district and the tax rebate program.
Mark Pardi, candidate for council president, said the city has completed numerous improvements, such as building industrial parks.
PHOTOS BY VICKI JOHNSON
Tiffin City Councilman Tyler Shuff (right) and council candidate Steven Lepard prepare to answer questions at Candidates Night Wednesday at Tiffin Middle School.
"Tiffin is a great place for economic development," he said. "We have a good source of individuals ... in the county."
He said the city's responsibility was to personally contact companies to bring them into Tiffin.
Jim Green, council at-large candidate, said the city has to look in every direction to promote economic development.
"We need to ... determine what the city needs in relation to what growth potential is there," he said. He also said he supports use of Thorium-90, an energy source he said would lower costs for the city.
Mark D. Hayes, council at-large candidate, said one of the biggest issues was the widening of SR 53 and the bypass from SR 53 to US 224.
"(It's) huge not only for easy access to the turnpike but for safety issues," he said.
Steven Lepard, council at-large candidate, said to promote economic development, the city would have to increase funding to Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp.
"They are our marketing firm that the city has," he said.
He said the city also would have to improve the retail sector along with industry.
Tyler Shuff, council at-large candidate, said it would take many steps to improve the city's economy and groups such as Tiffin Tomorrow, Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group and SIEDC need to work together to promote economic growth.
He said reconstructing the downtown area also was important to growth.
"I think we've got a gorgeous downtown that has the potential through the roof," he said. "It's just going to take some time to get this stuff up to par. I'm very confident we can do that."
Rich Cline, candidate for council president, said Tiffin has to focus on the diversified economy provided by Tiffin University and Heidelberg University. To do that, he said council has to utilize bed tax revenue to promote economic development and downtown beautification.
"I think the more attractive we can make our city, the more appealing we can make it to students who want to come here," he said. "The more students that will come here ... will bring money from outside the community."
Candidates also addressed whether the city should join with Seneca County for a shared court space.
Lepard said that several years ago, Cline had suggested the joint court space in a council meeting and he disagreed with the idea. Now, he said the city needs better court facilities.
He said current facilities are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and do not have the safety and security needed to run an efficient court.
Shuff agreed with Lepard, saying the city and county could share maintenance, security and utilities costs if both entities were under one roof.
Cline said he appreciated Lepard's comment and that he remained persistent on the subject.
"The buildings are going to serve the exact same purpose," he said. "Let's do what makes sense for the taxpayer."
Pardi agreed, saying he did not want to have to raise taxes to pay for the center and that joining forces would be best to fund the project.
"Instead of using 17,000 citizens of Tiffin's tax revenue, why not use 55,000 of the citizens' revenue?" He said.
Green said it "fiscally responsible" to use city and county revenues on the project.
Hayes said North Central Ohio Regional Council of Governments Director John Davoli has acquired a grant to complete a shared space study for the joint justice center that would assist in planning to build the center. He also said that he did not know how long the city and county could wait for the center.
"If we can work together to speed up process, I think it is worth it," he said.
Candidates also answered questions about the city's safety services without raising residents' taxes, improving the infrastructure, maintaining a steady pace of discussion in council meetings and whether the city should purchase and demolish private properties.