PORTERDALE -- In seeking election to her second term as a City Council member, Linda Finger said she intends to keep a promise she made during her first campaign -- that she would never vote for a tax or rate increase.
"I'm going to continue to vote the way I've always voted on that," she said Friday. "I'll never support an increase."
Times are tough in Porterdale, with the city looking at possibly increasing its millage rate, cutting jobs or both. Finger said she's concerned about the town's financial situation, but she also sees the economic impact on residents.
"With the economy the way it is, we don't need to be making it harder on our residents," she said.
Finger said she hopes the City Council will be able to find a way to avoid personnel cuts, despite her stance on fees and taxes.
"I don't want to see us do any personnel cuts," she said. "I hope we don't have to. I don't know what we're going to do. But I still can't bring myself to vote for a tax increase. Our millage rate is already so high in comparison with other (jurisdictions) across the county. It would kill our businesses and industry, and they don't get any type of tax exemption."
Finger pointed to her efforts over the past several years to improve the quality of life for Porterdale residents without increasing costs to the city.
Finger spearheaded development of an animal registration ordinance and conducted low-cost animal vaccination clinics for city residents; she also established the nonprofit CARE organization to assist residents in need with utility payments, winter coats for children and other emergency assistance. The CARE program has committed $3,000 to resident aid, Finger said in a press release, and is now providing minor repair aid to homeowners in Porterdale. In addition, Finger said she helped bring three mobile food pantries to Porterdale to assist residents in the town and nearby areas, assisting more than 4,000 people.
Restoration of the historic Porter Memorial Gymnasium is another issue facing the council. The gym was gutted by an October 2005 fire that left the gym's exterior brick walls standing but nothing remaining of the interior. The gym was built as a gift to the city from Oliver and Julia Porter, the owners of Bibb Manufacturing Company. City officials have been working for the past five years to find a way to restore the structure.
With the economy the way it is right now, however, Finger said she didn't see that the city would be able to make much progress on the gym in the near term.
"I would love to see (the gym) restored. It certainly is a part of the important history of Porterdale," Finger said. "I would love to see a way we could do it, but the cost of it the way it is, I don't see us going anywhere with it."
At Finger's suggestion, the city has made architectural drawings of the gym restoration project available to local contractors in order to possibly attract a low-cost bid for placing a roof on the gym.
"I think if we go at it from that attitude, we at least have a chance of getting (the gym) stabilized and keeping it from being damaged more from the weather," Finger said.
Once a roof is on the building, Finger said she believes the town's chances of securing grant funds to help with the restoration will be improved.
"When we go to apply for grants, I think they will look more favorably on us if we have done something," she said.
Porterdale's municipal election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8. In addition to Finger's Post 2 seat, the Post 1 seat, held by Robert Foxworth, and the mayor's position, held by Bobby Hamby, will be on the ballot.