JAMES G. FIFE
Residence: Union Township
Occupation: Business Administrator, Ohio Department of Transportation, and Union Township Trustee
What are your qualifications for the position of Clinton County Commissioner?
I have thirty-five years’ experience working for the Ohio Department of Transportation serving as the Department’s Business Administrator. I have extensive experience in the areas of Finance, Budgeting, Human Resources, Labor Relations, Safety, Worker’s Compensation, Training, Facilities Management.
Twenty years’ experience as a Union Township Trustee.
Why do you want to be a commissioner?
I believe it’s important that we are represented by someone who will bring a conservative voice to the Clinton County Community. Taxpayers of our county deserve to be represented by someone who values their tax dollars. We can accomplish this goal through proper strategic planning and being open to ideas of shared services and joint ventures.
Describe the kind of commissioner you would like to be.
I plan to be a commissioner who provides direction, leadership, and a clear vision of the future for Clinton County. My expectation of a Clinton County Commissioner is that of honesty, integrity, and the highest degree of moral and ethical values, both at work and away … a role model for our community, and more importantly, a role model for our children. As Clinton County Commissioner, this is what you can expect from Jim Fife.
What goals would you have if elected?
As Clinton County Commissioner, we’ll work within the confines of a well thought out Business Plan, budget, and strategic investment plan. We will:
• market our community by creating a business friendly environment working closely with the Department of Jobs and Commerce.
• make Safety a Core Business Function by providing appropriate support for our Local Law Enforcement, Prosecutor’s Office, and Court System.
• work closely with small businesses, entrepreneurs, and our farming community.
• maintain and improve our infrastructure.
• create an environment of teamwork, cooperation and unity.
• focus on team success, not individual achievement.
The commissioners oversee millions of dollars in public money. What’s your fiscal philosophy as to how that money should be overseen?
My governing fiscal philosophy is one of responsibility and accountability. My policies promote public and private sector investment to allow for economic growth that will spur job creation. I believe that government should facilitate and promote business development at the local and state levels to boost our economy.
In order to accomplish this mission, a Business/Operating Plan jointly developed by business and local leaders is the primary requirement for identifying our governing philosophies. This plan will guide County operating practices and capital investment priorities in Clinton County for the purpose of economic growth. The Business Plan will allow for the establishment of an annual budget and a long term strategic plan to implement and sustain its primary objectives.
My philosophy on the key components necessary for ensuring the success of any Business or Financial Plan is to maximize the use of local funds and garner financial support from external revenue sources such as jobs and commerce agencies at the state and federal level for investment in key areas such as the county infrastructure and workforce development. My fiscal strategy and basic philosophy create an environment that permits prudent and timely investment consistent with a community focused Business Plan and provides for fiscal cost accounting controls to track investment success and optimize the use of public funds and other available resources for economic growth and job creation in Clinton County.
Do you support the county’s levied 0.5 percent sales tax or do you think it should be reduced, increased or expire this year?
As a fiscal conservative, I’m a strong proponent of returning money back to the taxpayer. Taxpayer dollars are monies people have earned through years of hard work and dedication in supporting their families. With regards to the eleven-year temporary one-half percent sales tax … I have a fundamental problem with any temporary tax that lasts for this amount of time. You either need it or you don’t, make a decision. This eleven-year tax truly gives new meaning to the work temporary. It’s my belief that any time you impose a temporary tax on the taxpayer, from day one, you should be developing a plan as to when it can be eliminated. It’s concerning that during the time of this tax, no planning strategy has been developed and shared with the public to accomplish this goal. Short and long term strategic planning would have provided clarity as to whether this tax should have been made permanent or been removed.
During the four-year term of office you seek, the county expects to receive millions of dollars from the sale of the formerly county-owned Clinton Memorial Hospital. What should be done with that money?
The money received from the sale of the Clinton Memorial Hospital should be included as part of the jointly developed Clinton County Business/Operating Plan. Those dollars can then be allocated through the annual budget and long term investment plans consistent with my fiscal oversight policies.
That being said, my fiscally conservative policies would only permit the use of interest or dividends that are earned on the principal balance, at least for the near term. This allows for a thoughtful reinvestment of those funds back into Clinton County for economic development in terms of workforce training, business incentives, and transportation and utility infrastructure improvements consistent with sound investment strategies. Maintaining a cash reserve via the principal balance funds creates a fiscal environment that allows the county not only to be prepared for emergencies and other contingencies, but also affords the county an opportunity to implement a long term structured investment of the principle balance for a potential greater return on investment as future economic development opportunities arise and potential matching economic development funds become available from other revenue sources.
Do you wish to briefly add something that hasn’t been touched upon in your responses?
I appreciate the opportunity to share my vision for Clinton County. I’ve enjoyed a wonderful thirty-five year career at the Department of Transportation and twenty years as Union Township Trustee. Please know that I’m not looking for a career as Clinton County Commissioner, I’m looking to share my knowledge and experience to make a positive difference in our community. I’ll work hard and smart and I’ll expect those around me to do the same. Clinton County deserves it!
Thank you for your consideration on March 15th.