University Heights City Council Candidate Winifred Weizer
Education: B.A., Urban Studies; Master Public Administration, Concentration in Public Works Management
Current occupation: Associate College Lecturer
Qualifications: I have both management experience in the private sector as well as the training for public sector challenges. I have been actively involved with the city on various committees since 1995. I currently serve as a member of the Finance Advisory Committee of Council and am the Resident representative on the City Beautiful Corp. (Community Improvement Corp. of the City of University Heights). I previously served on council in 2007. I am a member of the Government Finance Officers Association and the American Public Works Association
What do you consider to be an effective working relationship between the Mayor and the members of Council, and what do you consider to be an effective working relationship among members of Council?
The Charter assigns the Mayor the administrative duties and the Council the legislative duties, which includes the approval of the budget. This means that both need to work together collaboratively for the betterment of the city. The best relationships happen when both groups are willing to listen and compromise for the betterment of the city. A total of eight individuals bring their skills, knowledge and expertise to the table. Council is working together with the use of their committee structure. This has allowed them to take advantage of the strengths of individual council persons in reviewing and proposing initiatives that are needed. Council also uses the skills of residents with advisory groups like the Finance Advisory Committee.
What should be the priorities for the city’s budget?
I believe we should always strive for a balanced yearly operating budget. That is a budget that addresses the primary services that are provided to meet the health, safety and welfare of our residents. If possible, a set amount should be designated to go into a prudent reserve to provide the funding during times of emergency. The priorities there are police, fire and sanitation services. After those, building and housing and yearly infrastructure needs (road repair etc.) should be addressed as well as ancillary programs like pool, park and senior services. If possible, a set amount should be designated to go into a prudent reserve to provide funding during times of emergency. We also need better performance data for budget evaluation.
What opportunities do you see for regional collaboration between University Heights and other local governments to provide services or facilities?
The city has a history of doing this over the past 20 years with some success. Over the past few years, we have merged the police and fire dispatch and are in the process of potentially merging that unit into a larger one to maintain the saving that we generated with the first merger. We continue to make use of joint purchasing power through the state purchasing programs for autos, trucks, and police cars. We also purchase road salt collaboratively to get the best possible price which decreases with volume. We also work collaboratively with other cities to get the best possible cost for dumping our garbage. There are still other opportunities to be explored in areas like recreation and other city services.
What, if any, specific actions would you recommend the city take to maintain the quality of its housing?
We need to maintain and expand a number of programs that began with discussions during the Infeld administration and came to fruition under the current Mayor. These programs include low interest loans for code violation repair and tax abatement when major renovations are done. There is more that can be done as well. With the rebounding of housing prices, renovators are now more creatively redoing our older housing stock, gutting the interiors to provide open floor plans and modern amenities. We need to encourage this type of renovation work in the community to bring more homes up to code and to make them more desirable.
What role should environmental considerations play in the city’s policies and actions?
Environmental considerations should be something that we all think about and are willing to take action on. We need to acknowledge that the implementation of green policies comes with an additional cost and that will be a factor in the decisions that we make. We also will need individuals with expertise to maintain anything that is installed. Purchasing of supplies, materials and equipment should also reflect a coherent environmental policy. The cost factor will drive a lot of the decisions that are made. If we were to move to an electric vehicle fleet for city cars, these will require an additional cost to install charging stations etc. Planning for the future needs to begin now for the city and its residents.