Williams Aims for Light Years, not Status Quo

Updated 6 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Steve & Mary Williams
Steve & Mary Williams

Remember when council chambers filled with irate  workers objecting to a proposed occupation tax? Steve Williams, from the Finance Committee, led a contingent to separate, modify and tweak.

He stated that his “leadership in action” likely, first came to public attention, during the tax reform hearings. Council proposed the reduction of business and occupation taxes to offset the imposition of the sales tax.”

Initially, collection of a city sales tax was portrayed as cumbersome since one had not been previously implemented. However, after working with the State Tax Department, the collection and stream back to the city has gone better than anticipated.

Early analysis shows “we are running two million dollars ahead of projections and it has not had a negative impact in the community.” Still, the tax aspect of home rule is “ticklish.”

“I feel confident home rule will be renewed and expanded to other cities. I think something will be put in to prevent anything like an occupation tax. It depends on how it is written. I’ve met with Jim Morgan, who’s the chairman of the Government Organization Committee, I’m fairly certain something like that will come out. Through my demonstrated ability to work with our local delegation and the knowledge and friendships I have both in the House and the Senate , I think something helpful to Huntington will be crafted. Will it be easy? No, it should not be. We’ll find a way."

The candidate went on in his own words to describe his vision for Huntington:

"What we want is the ability to make some decisions. My observation is we need a partnership with the state to implement some of those. We’re proving we’re not very good ‘tax’ collectors. For instance,  if they will not give us the ability to create tax reform, give us the ability to do some things in the way we collect [fees through enforcement powers].

In Huntington, we’re looking at how do we make ourselves more competitive. I’m not looking to be competitive with Charleston, WV; I’m looking to be competitive with the Roanoke’s of the world, the Charlotte’s of the world, Lexington, Ky., Pittsburgh… that’s our competition.  How do we measure against them? Metrics is a new word that’s been used at City Hall.  I introduced it during our budget discussions  in 2009. The metrics that we are looking at should not compare us to Charleston or Parkersburg, we need to look beyond those. Our danger is not setting the bar too high and not reaching it. The biggest danger is setting it too low and hitting our mark. If we continue to do that, you just muddle through and compete against the status quo. 

When you compete against the status quo, you stay in 48th place. When “we are improving” in some things, compared to what? Is our measurement by inches or by yards? If we measure by inches, we have improved, but we are still behind. The wonderful part is when you look at what we have available to us, expectations are low , opportunities are high,  when we do perform it’s going to that much greater because people will be saying, ‘look at that miracle city.’   Huntington won’t just be seen as the jewel city. I think we  will become that again , the ‘we will’ city, but we will be known as the miracle on the Ohio.

People look at Huntington and think of  it as being broke. It’s not broke. If you have a plan, live within your means and follow your vision. The problem is we have a crisis of the month. This is the first fiscal year we have not had a crisis. But, last year we made tough decisions --- we made sure we were living within our means and we did not increase taxes. As a result, our revenues are coming in higher than expected. Why? Because  we held the line on spending.

The intent (of our campaign) is for people to translate our campaign to action. We will articulate several goals over the next month that have measurements as to how to get there. They will not be to have ourselves three-and-a-half years better than where we are. We will be light years beyond where we are right now. We will pass everybody else in the region. We fail if we are not being compared to the top cities around the country.

I’m confident we will have the support of federal and state leaders to give us the tools.  It’s going  to be a fun ride."

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