The City of Dallas Center hosted a forum Monday, Oct. 21 at Memorial Hall for residents to ask questions with the five city council candidates up for the Nov. 5 election. There are three seats available.
Candidates included incumbents Danny Beyer (four years), Ryan Coon (one year) and Ryan Kluss (six years). Bob Haxton and Gary Licht are looking to take over one of the non-partisan seats.
Attending residents provided questions prewritten questions drawn at random. Concern about taxes from both angles became one of the hot topics right out of the gate.
Spending in the City
Haxton separated himself as the candidate most-concerned with the city’s tax practices and spending. While in agreement with his fellow candidates that such amenities as the planned fire department building, public library and $3.2 million pool are nice, the cost should be reevaluated.
Sitting council members were quick to take exception to Haxton’s opposition. Beyer said he still wants to see more strategic planning sessions to plan with “more vision.” Improved street planning — a shared thought with Haxton — was one of the areas of most concentration, also expanded on by Kluss, who repeatedly advocated for an improved sidewalk system.
As the most experienced member of the group, Kluss also spoke to the importance to continue working with finances by “setting aside” and “spending as we do in our personal lives.”
Continuing to Grow
Beyer said he “can comfortably say” that the city will continue to grow under the council’s guidance, using the Handlebar restaurant’s success and soon-to-open Dollar General as evidence.
“We’ve been trying to create a positive business environment,” Beyer said. “Those things have been coming because of what the council has been doing and what the council will continue to do.”
He added that “people are starting to notice us,” including a commercial real estate agent he’s spoken with that is looking to plan in Dallas Center.
Grant-writing also became part of the conversation from Kluss and Licht. The former said he feels the board has handled taxes efficiently but would like to see more grant applications. Licht, who labeled himself a fiscal conservative at the beginning of the evening, said he has experience writing for grants. Beyer said even if Licht is not elected, he would appreciate if he would help in that regard as well.
The conversation repeatedly turned back to Haxton’s opposition to the city’s taxes as his competition spent time correcting him on the tax levy. Coon took strong exception to Haxton’s reservations of the council’s control over such matters.
“We’re all property owners too, we’re getting hit by the same things that we’re increasing,” Coon said. “We’re being affected by it too. Nobody likes tax increases but if there’s something that needs to happen, and the way to get it done is to increase taxes, it’s gotta be done.”
Beyer re-entered the conversation with receipts to counter Haxton’s opposition to the current property taxes. With an increased property value of $7,000, Beyer said his taxes fell $200. Licht’s value increased $1,500 while taxes dropped $41, as he also mentioned in his statement. Beyer added that Coon’s situation with stagnant property value but a decrease of $78.96 cents in tax was even more illuminating as the city continues to grow ahead of the inflation rate.