Q&A: Incoming Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Candidate for Montgomery county commissioner Carolyn Rice on the election

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice will take office in January as a county commissioner.

She will replace outgoing Commissioner Dan Foley.

For the first time in history, the county commission will be all women as Rice joins commissioners Debbie Lieberman and Judy Dodge.

READ MORE: All women to take over Montgomery County board of commissioners

Rice won election earlier this month when she defeated Republican Doug Barry.

We asked Rice about what she would do to bring jobs to the county and where she stands on the recent sales tax increase. Here’s a look at her answers:

What can you do as a county commissioner to help grow the local economy and add jobs? What ideas do you have for attracting new jobs and investment?

Rice: Montgomery County has been investing in economic development, from Austin Landing in Miami Township to Procter and Gamble in Vandalia.

I want to make sure that we learn from each new investment. How was the process from the perspective of the company? For new workers? Were the county’s efforts effective, productive, beneficial? What could or should we do differently in the future to best capture future opportunities?

READ MORE: Democrats win 3 county races; Republican rallies to beat incumbent clerk

As county commissioners, we need to ensure that we have funds available for economic development, including staffing, and innovative programs like the ED/GE fund which supports local governments’ efforts to attract jobs.

We are responsible for strategic planning, providing leadership, and acting as advocates, working to secure state and federal investments.

Our Job Center is another example of leadership by the county commission, creating an innovative space that addresses the needs of both job seekers and employers. More than 20 years after it opened, visitors from other counties are still coming to our Job Center to learn how a similar program might be implemented in their own community.

As commissioner, I will work on a project called Global Dayton, an initiative to better market ourselves to companies across the world and attract more investment to our region.

I want to help companies here identify the opportunities and unmet needs of our community and the ways in which we can connect across the globe. We must assess our needs and the opportunities they may reveal. We must also focus on education and job training.

My education experience at Wright State involved helping people obtain more education.

We can continue to work as partners with the wealth of educational institutions in our region. We must improve our students’ preparation for college and the trades and make sure we have the jobs that will keep them here or bring them back to our community.

Filling the gap in skilled trades jobs will bring greater prosperity to our county.

Where do you stand on the recent moved by the county to raise the sales tax?

Rice: The County Commission made a difficult decision to increase the local portion of the sales tax rate after almost 30 years at the same 1% rate.

It should be noted that the State of Ohio raised its portion of the sales tax rate to 5.75 percent in 2014 without public input. Since that increase, the state eliminated millions of dollars in local government funding to Ohio counties and has continued to impose unfunded mandates to human services and other aspects of county government.

Montgomery County underwent a year-long review of options. A review panel recommended trimming expenses, coupled with a modest sales tax increase, so the county can continue investments in critical services and infrastructure.

There was a long public review and discussion process where many people and organizations provided input. Montgomery County’s modest 0.25% increase will allow the County to continue to invest in criminal justice, economic development, and infrastructure.

The increase results in an additional twenty-five cents tax on one hundred dollars, which is expected to cost the average person $36 per year.

Riley Dugan, a University of Dayton assistant professor of marketing, stated in a September 28, 2018 Dayton Daily News article that this level of sales tax increase “isn’t likely to have a lasting effect on shopping habits” and “from a long-term perspective, they don’t have much of an effect.”

Nonetheless, it was a difficult decision to make, and it was made carefully and with a broad range of community input.

No one wants to increase sales tax, but it was the only choice the county commissioners had if they were to do what is in the community’s best interest.

If the State of Ohio had been the partner it used to be, the county never would have faced this dilemma.