Name: Jeffrey Coney
Date of birth: July 19, 1961
Address: 201 Jackson Ave.
Education: Graduate of York (Pa.) High School, 1980; holds industry certifications
Occupation: Program manager, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Party affiliation: Republican
Political experience: None
Q: A significant amount of public taxpayer money over a long period has been committed to help pay for the local share of debt service on the proposed multiuse sports and events center. If elected, would you continue to support this? Why or why not?
A: I am not in favor of placing a significant burden on the taxpayer. This is part of Hagerstown’s identity and a major attraction for commerce, so it’s one step towards revitalizing the downtown area. There is considerable value in a multiuse facility but I have some concerns, which include the range of possible uses. This should become revenue positive and all means to capitalize this investment outside of bond issues should be visited. With current budget shortfalls, I think all options should be explored to fund a new facility.
Q: How would you entice businesses to locate within city limits?
A: This is a team effort. To attract businesses that attract tourism and commerce the council must partner with the chamber of commerce, property owners, existing business, entrepreneurs, historical society, community leaders and financial institutions to incentivize investment in the downtown area. We need to:
— Present a clean, safe and (convenient) environment for business growth.
— Explore marketing services to attract new and bolster existing businesses.
— Evaluate incentives for improvements by property owners and businesses.
— investigate current taxes, fees, ordnances, utilities and services for ways to reduce burdens on property owners, new and existing businesses.
Q: In your opinion, what issue will be the most crucial facing the upcoming administration? How will you help address it?
A: The economy, which has led to our declining workforce, property values and continuing budget shortfalls. We need a business-friendly environment that will provide options for our youth who could then choose to stay rather than leave for economic reasons.
Working with the council, the mayor, department heads, and community leaders to take a common sense approach and analyze all possibilities; Without detriment to essential services, we must cut unnecessary spending, prioritize projects, and combine city and county services where appropriate. Increase the tax base by helping existing business grow and attract new, not by putting additional burdens on the citizen.
Q: Do you think Hagerstown’s downtown can be truly “revitalized?” If so, what besides a new stadium, can the city do to spur the process?
A: Yes. The only way center cities recover is by the attraction and retention of a broader range of commerce including technology and professional businesses. Local businesses are also local consumers. They will patronize other businesses for their needs. Especially those in walking distance: e.g. parking, restaurants, coffee shops, newsstands, dry cleaners, a carwash, etc. Hagerstown has so much to offer in way of lower cost available space, proximity to supply and transportation lines, government services, essential and public safety services, and housing at reasonable rates.
Q: Does Hagerstown have enough public safety personnel? If not, what changes would you make and how would you fund any increases?
A: I’ve spoken with our public safety and emergency services personnel. Essential services should be the number one priority of any government. Our system has been stretched for a long time. The biggest hurdle is the economy and budget. Working with the city council, the mayor, the city department heads and community leaders, I will: address the budget shortfall; Improve downtown, by enticing businesses into our empty commercial spaces; Improve the quality of services to our citizens with performance-based policies; Find ways to reduce unnecessary regulation burdens on citizens and businesses.
Jeffrey Coney - Hagerstown City Council Candidates Q&A
Jeffrey Coney (File photo / August 27, 2012)