Letter to the Editor: Michael Johnson sees the big picture, deserves your vote

Posted at 12:40 PM on Nov 3, 2017

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To the Editor:

Statesville Councilman-elect Staford's interpretation of the relative tax increase as it pertains to the solid waste fee is an attempt to distract the electorate. He may have won the election based on this marginal problem, but let's be clear ... it is not the compelling issue of our time and we have much bigger fish to fry in Statesville.

Michael Johnson is spot on in his response and he understands how to nurture and obtain investment capital that will lead to improved opportunity and conditions across our community.

As an example, the investment in the Vance Hotel in terms of cost of capital and return on investment is much more compelling to the future of this community than a repeal of the solid waste fee. The solution to our common problems comes down to employment centers and increasing the tax base. The Solid Waste fee is a drop in the bucket but politically populist.

So what to do? As a real estate development professional and investor, I suggest there is no better way to stimulate population growth and, in turn, the tax base than taking advantage of a property the city already owns and investing in its rehabilitation for workforce housing through the use of below-market interest rate loans in partnership with a private developer and then renting those units out at market rates. That will turn on the development community and compel them to invest new money to redevelop other projects due to the relative increase in market rental rates and because of the improved demographic makeup of the incoming residents.

It's about the opportunity for investors to make a profit and we must set the stage for them to do so by leveraging the unbelievably cheap money available in the capital markets. Much as the downtown streetscape project has transformed Statesville's regional reputation and greatly increased sustainable retail investment and opportunity, the Vance Hotel project will prove to be the catalyst for residential revitalization and investment throughout downtown and the surrounding areas.

The city's tax revenue will increase as a result and that means more money for things like police, fire, infrastructure, public works and socially responsible programs and investment in troubled areas such as South Statesville. Now is not the time to go back to the old conservative ways just when we are on the cusp of reaching the goals and objectives of the well planned and executed strategy we have worked on so hard to achieve!

To Mr. John Staford and other incoming Statesville City Council members, try to be open to continuing those plans as they have been proven in many instances to be successful.

To our electorate, vote Michael Johnson for mayor of Statesville on Nov. 7.

Todd Lange
Statesville Planning Board Member

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