Larry Schoen

Age: 62

Residence: Bellevue Triangle

Education: B.A. in biology, University of California at Santa Cruz; M.S. in journalism, Columbia University.

Occupation: County commissioner; farmer; formerly television news.

Public service experience: Blaine County commissioner (12 years); Blaine County Planning and Zoning commissioner (3.5 years); Carey Rural Fire Protection District commissioner (eight years); Blaine Soil Conservation District supervisor; board member of various nonprofits.

1) What role should the county take in promoting affordable housing? How?

2) What would you like to see done with the former Blaine Manor property?

3) How should the county manage its roughly $9 million in unassigned reserves?

4) Talk about your vision for the Big Wood River: What’s the best way for the county to balance flood control with restoring its natural steam processes?

5) What are your priorities for the county budget? What changes would you make?

1. Smaller, more dense affordable development is most successful in or near urban centers, workplaces, services. The county will continue to create workforce housing opportunities through various zoning tools and defend projects it approves against NIMBYism. The county has deeded land to affordable housing developers. I support returning to regional initiatives with cities to promote housing solutions.

2. It has always been my intention that the Blaine Manor site be liquidated, or otherwise conveyed, with proceeds and/or the site itself used for either or both these public purposes:

    a) capital investment, i.e. various improvements to outdated, county-owned buildings, facilities, equipment.

    b) creation of affordable-housing opportunities.

3. “Unappropriated reserve” is “managed” only as invested capital by the county treasurer. It can be allocated as follows:

    a) $4.3 million (about 25 percent of $17.3 million fiscal 2017 general fund budget) to fund first-quarter fiscal 2018 operations.

    b) $3 million (about 15-18 percent ) as normal reserve amount.

    c) $1.4 million held conservatively in case of no federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes appropriation (about $1.9 million) and given susceptibility to natural disasters and degraded infrastructure.

    d) unbudgeted net income (about $300,000).

           

4. Blaine County shall continue to work diligently with many local, state and federal partners to understand and restore this complex system. We recently requested assistance from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on specific study and project design. The county offers the most direct, thorough, publicly accessible stage of permitting authority to ensure local goals are met.

5.Priorities include:

    a) ongoing improvements to old, degraded, inadequate county roads, bridges, buildings, facilities, equipment.

    b) updating and upgrading our web platform and customer service tools (in process).

    c) possibly moving to a 50-hour work week (which costs more, not less) to retain early and late hours, but also remain open five days.

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