Steve Busch

(candidate for 2003 Moscow City Council (2 year seat))

1. Do you believe the bequest from the Hamilton estate was spent wisely in the construction and maintenance of the new gym? If not, why not-and how would you avoid a similar problem in the future?
As a long time supporter of kids, former president of the Moscow Baseball Association and as a member of the City Council that voted to build the facility, I certainly do think the money was spent wisely and for the following reasons:

A) From the discussions I've had with Mr. Hamilton's friends and acquaintances (I never had the pleasure of personally meeting Mr. Hamilton), it was clear that had Mr. Hamilton lived he would have funded an indoor recreation facility of some kind.

B) The public input collected by the committee appointed by the Mayor (Dream Team I) to study how to spend the bequest found very strong support to building an indoor recreation facility. Over about a twelve month period, the Committee conducted a statistically valid citizen survey, we requested and received information from students at every Moscow school. We had numerous public meetings. Concept drawings and displays were placed at shopping Malls. Although not everyone was pleased with the outcome, we did conduct a very public process and it is my hope that we can continue to work together to meet our goals for Moscow's children.

C) I received numerous comments from the public with the general theme "Don't spend all of the money. Keep some to start an endowment".

D) The decision of the Council to build the facility with certificates of participation (COP) dedicating some of the investment returns to the support of maintenance and operation (MO) of the building is in the best interests of the Moscow tax payer. Having someone give you the money to build a new building is great but how to pay for the MO is a real issue. It was my opinion we should not ask the tax payers to pay for the MO of this facility because either taxes would have to go up or some worthy program would have been cut. Money is tight!

E) The decision to use COP to fund the project took advantage of the historic low interest rates and gives future councils complete flexibility with how the balance is utilized. We had financial experts advising us that the timing was excellent for COP financing. Future councils have the flexibility to do whatever they want. They may or may not choose to keep all of the investment returns (and principal for that matter) for MO. I personally support the use of some of these funds to help build additional outdoor recreation fields once a good plan is developed and we have a local organization leading the way.

F) The public input received by Dream Team I made it clear the indoor recreation facility should not be just an athletic facility. Not all of the youth in Moscow are athletically oriented. Other spaces were added (the multi purpose room in particular) to make it a recreation facility not just a gym. The gym itself can be divided into two 3/4 size basketball courts allowing good flexibility of use.

G) The new facility needed to be designed to complement the Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Facility and the surrounding neighborhood. It also was built as an institutional building that will serve Moscow for many years. This may not have been the lowest cost approach but it was the best value approach.

2. As a Council member, what would be your questions, concerns and requirements if you were asked to vote for a zoning variance that would allow a large business (employing 100 workers) to be built on the outskirts of Moscow? Use that example to define your vision of economic growth for Moscow.
This question wasn't completely clear to me. I spent a good deal of time trying to decide how to answer it. Land use decisions are some of the most difficult decisions council members are required to make. The process is very specific. There is one path for a "zoning variance" and a completely different one for a rezone. I started to write an epistle about the difference between the two processes. I finally decided to give a very brief description of what happens in the rezone process. The 100 employee company might need both a variance and a rezone but most likely would need the rezone process.

The rezone process requires two public hearings. The first is in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission or P&Z (a group of citizens appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council). After conducting a hearing, the P&Z makes a recommendation to the Council. The Council then holds another public hearing and can either accept, reject or modify the P&Z's recommendation. The Council may send it back to the P&Z with instructions for reconsideration. Since I've been on the Council, all three of these have happened.

When a rezone comes before the Council, I always carefully read the minutes from the P&Z meeting. The recommendations of the P&Z carry a lot of weight with me. I am reluctant to reject their recommendations unless I have what I think are very sound reasons. I also listen very carefully to any public testimony given at the Council public hearing.

I base my decisions on a number of things: What impact does this rezone have on the surrounding neighborhood? What are the impacts to City services? Has the property owner done all that City code requires? Is the use in compliance with the zoning codes? Does the rezone cause conflicts with surrounding zones? The P&Z will have considered all of these things before it gets to the Council. Their recommendation will be based upon their opinion of the answers to these questions as well as others. It is often a balancing act between the need for the City to grow and the needs of established neighborhoods or business areas. Moscow is going to grow. The rezone process provides a mechanism for orderly growth. It does not eliminate conflict. A vote either way in the rezone process often makes one side or the other unhappy.

For the past several years Moscow has grown at an annual rate of about 2% per year. Using the Moscow 2000 census population of about 21,000 people, we are adding 420 people a year. Moscow has been able to accommodate this historic growth rate. A new business with 100 jobs would bring an estimated 300 to 400 people to town. If they all came at once, it would put pressure on the system but in my opinion it would not cause serious problems.

We need to expand and diversify our tax base. A business capable of employing 100 people with good paying jobs would be a welcome addition to Moscow.

3. Are you concerned with the continuing depletion of the Grand Ronde aquifer, and if you are, what specific steps would you want the city to take to conserve that water source?
Yes I am concerned about the declining water table. With our current understanding of the deep aquifer, no one can predict with certainty what will happen in the future. At the current rate of decline, we may have hundreds of years of water in the aquifer. It also possible we could see a precipitous drop in our aquifer level. I do not think it is time to panic. But because of the uncertainty and the vital nature of a domestic water supply, Moscow needs to be working on alternate sources to augment or even replace our deep aquifer. We are not going to conserve our way out of this problem. Fortunately, Moscow is located in a water rich environment. We have many options. Some of these options are inexpensive and others are not. The best solutions may be measured in months and years rather than days or weeks as some may imply. I have an excellent understanding of our water supply challenges. I have been the Council liaison to the Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee (PBAC) for six years. PBAC was created to study our deep aquifers and provide information to policy makers in the region. PBAC has been in existence since 1967. Current members include both universities, Whitman County, Latah County and the Cities of Moscow, Pullman and Colfax. I would support the following steps to address our water management issues:

A) Continue to fund PBAC and the research it conducts. Specifically PBAC is researching where and how natural recharge occurs to the deep and shallow aquifers. Once this is better understood, it is possible to use surface water to enhance natural recharge. This is already being done in a number of areas across the nation. Obviously, it has to be done very carefully and with a lot of planning. We have plenty of water to do this. In five days time during the Spring, an entire years supply of water flows out of Paradise Creek. The water quality isn't ideal but the water is there. We wouldn't do it in five days. The point is we live in a water rich area and have resources at our disposal.

B) Continue the citizen water conservation education program under way in the City of Moscow including supplying water conservation devices to Moscow citizens.

C) Continue to contribute to the capital projects fund in the Moscow water department with the expectation that significant capital expenditures will be required in the future. If we add to the fund in small increments each year, we won't have to come up with the money all at once. We have the time if we maintain what the Council started two budget cycles ago.

D) Work with PBAC and the City of Pullman to develop a water rate structure in both Cities that encourages the conservation of our deep aquifer. Both Cities pump from the deep aquifer. We should work with our friends to the West and come up with a plan that shares the burden on an equitable basis. The City of Moscow is in the process of hiring consultants to help with water conservation efforts and develop conservation oriented water rate structures. This information should be shared with PBAC and the City of Pullman in particular. I think the citizens of Moscow will embrace a water conservation rate structure if they feel everyone in the area is doing their part. New rates must be structured to accommodate fixed income homes.

E) Make evening hours watering mandatory during the summer months.

F) Enact odd/even watering days.

G) Work with State and Federal officials to find money to help solve our water management issues.

H) Continue to work on Objective number 3 of the City's strategic plan developed by the City Council in the Spring of 2001 (over two years ago): "Identify elements of a comprehensive water resource plan and begin implementation by 9/30/2004." We have made progress in this area. This objective makes it clear the current City Council has water management as one of its highest priorities.

4. Should Moscow encourage, and begin planning now for, the creation of a new route for Highway 95 that bypasses the city?
As a matter of fact, the City of Moscow Transportation Committee (A citizens committee appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council) has been studying transportation issues in general and a bypass in particular for some time now. As you might imagine it is no small task. Since it will take a long time (maybe decades) before we see this actually happen, it is prudent to do the planning now and be proactive not reactive. I am a supporter of the bypass idea with one caveat: We need to be sure our downtown area remains vibrant and attractive area. If this is true, people will be drawn into our community from the bypass. If it is not true, a bypass would be the beginning of the end of our downtown area.

The Transportation Commission has also be working on a "ring road" concept. As the name implies, a ring road would surround the City and provide a means to move from one area of town to another without having to drive through downtown. The City and the County are in the early stages of developing a joint regional transportation board. This board would identify possible ring road routes in the County and help to preserve them for future road use.

5. As a Council member, how would you use e-mail, web sites, or any other communication tools to inform Moscow residents about city programs or to gather input from those residents?
While I have been on the Council these past six years, we have made some fairly significant improvements to communications with Moscow's citizens: We upgraded the equipment used to televise Council meetings. We improved the City's web page (In fact, Moscow's web page won an award for being one of the best). We began a biannual statistically valid survey to determine how our neighbors and friends felt about issues that affect them. We used this information to help shape our strategic plans. We recently voted the funds to begin televising the 4:00 and 5:00 Council committee meetings. These things have and will continue to help, but there is always room for improvement. I will consider and do any reasonable thing that will improve the communication with Moscow citizens. We are investigating the possibility of rebroadcasting the committee meetings at a time when more people might be able to view them. Regularly purchasing newspaper space and giving a status report is also an idea under consideration. The Council is in the process of changing our lot division and subdivision ordinance to make sure affected parties are notified and have an opportunity to give input at the appropriate stage of the process. The City needs to go more than half way to make it easy for our citizens to be well informed.

6. Biographical information:
53 years old
Resident of Moscow since 1981
Married with three grown children
Born in Colfax Washington
BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Wash. State
MBA from Ball State University
Employed by Busch Distributors, Inc. as general manager

Prior experience:
President of St. Mary's School Board
Chair of Moscow Parks and Recreation Commission
Member of Moscow Streets Standards Committee
President of Moscow Baseball Association
Chair of Moscow Public Works Finance Committee (3 yrs)
President of Moscow City Council (2 yrs)
Member of Moscow City Council (6 years)

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