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The Shelbyville City Council has spent much of the last year to year and a half working on a plan to spruce up much of the downtown area.
Through the East End Study and the nearly completed 7th Street Corridor Study, the city council has, with input from residents, set up a plan for continued growth in these areas.
Along with the cleaning up of the downtown zoning districts, the council has put a plan in place for a large part of the city.
The current council members have also proudly reminded the voting public that the city has not had to raise taxes for the past five years.
Now, with the election just around the corner on Nov. 2, the current council members and new candidates discuss what lies ahead.
There are nine persons running for the six positions, and they offer a variety of views.
The current council has been successful with integrating the public into the decisions to revamp the planning for areas in both studies.
"We need to continue to have that community involvement," council member Donna Eaton said. "When we're all working together, that puts us in the position to succeed."
Frank Page, who is one of two newcomers to the race -- Robert Burry is the other -- said working together raises Shelbyville's appeal.
"I think it's important we all continue to work together on growth and plan, because that way we won't lose that small town community spirit we have," she said.
Council member Alan Matthews added that the plans are what keep the city on track.
"It's important to plan and put those visions on paper, so when funds and opportunities become available we're ready," he said.
Planned growth has been the council's choice of action this term, and council member George Best doesn't see that stopping.
"I think we're moving more toward planned growth than we had before," he said. "The next thing could be for pedestrian and bicycle access not just in the middle of the city but out to other areas like Red Orchard Park and [Clear Creek] the park.
Burry noted another area he'd like to see the council focus on.
"I've participated in both the East End and 7th Street studies," he said. "I feel both is from a renewed interest in Shelbyville as a result of an influx in population.
"People moving into this area with creative ideas challenging this town at a time when our economy is asking for a new set of eyes. I believe this is good for the town. Another area I think needs attention is Henry Clay Street."
Mike Zoeller, a current council member, said he thinks the city should use all of its resources.
"We have to learn from other cities," he said. "We don't need to be inventors as much as we need to be innovators. We can pick what we like from others to keep this a unique city."
Norris Beckley, who's running for a council seat and also served on the council for four years in the late 1980s, said everything is moving in the right direction.
"I think the future is really bright because of some of the planning that has been put in place," he said. "We're ripe for growth, and there's a lot of excitement around it. One think I think we could with the council, is form a group with the merchants and work together. That way we can see their vision for the growth of the city as well."
Now, council member Shane Suttor added, the only variable is time.
"We've definitely become more plan-oriented with our growth, and I think we need to continue that downtown," he said. "It's going to take fifteen to twenty years, but when it all comes together, it's something we're all going to be very proud of."
The economy has slowed growth, said council member Jon Swindler, but the city is ready.
"Growth has been put on the back-burner some because of the economy, but as we look ahead I think Shelbyville is in a very good position," he said "A lot of those plans [from the East End and 7th Street studies] are a ways down the road, but now we have the plans to follow to create the Shelbyville we all want."
The planned growth and future of the city's economy no doubt go hand in hand.
"The studies to improve the East End and the 7th Street Corridor, those are the kind of things that are going to attract businesses," Suttor said. "Those are the areas they want to be in, the cities they want to raise their families in."
Though he supports the studies and improvements, Burry said he knows they need funding.
"With this new interest, we have to find new and additional ways of funding," he said. "I believe it is important to maintain services on a budget as this administration has done so well, but I believe we have to continue to grow and seek new ways to finance our growth."
Matthews noted that revenue can become available, but the council has to be ready to act.
"When grants become available, it's important that we be ready to take advantage of them," he said. "We've been very careful with our expenditures and because of that we've been able to maintain revenue."
Zoeller added that the city has increased some revenue by paying its bills.
"The city is in good financial shape, and we've even been able to pay off bills early, saving money on interest," he said.
Raising money without raising taxes will continue to be a chore, but all the candidates are committed finding revenue streams.
"We can't go out and raise taxes," Best said. "There are other ways we can generate revenue for the city."
Added Beckley: "I would never be in favor of raising taxes. We have to go out and recruit new businesses while maintaining the ones we have. That's the only way we can increase our revenue."
Frugality has helped the council, Eaton said.
"City Hall and the department heads have done a very good job of cutting out waste. They are very effective and efficient," Eaton said.
Swindler noted the good position the city is currently in, but he noted the downturn may not be over.
"We have to continue to be mindful of the economic forecast, I don't feel like we're in an upswing just yet. Even with our good cushion, we have to continue to be fiscally responsible," he said.
But candidates say it's important to remember that the city isn't alone.
"Even though we're talking about the city, we have to remember that it's all Shelby County. We have to continue to work with the county to make this area better," Page said.