Sarah Cherne District 5 questionnaire

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - WBTV's Sharon Smith sent a questionnaire to candidates running for the District 5 seat.

Sarah Cherne's answers are below:

Explain where you stand on the property revaluation process. Do you think it needs to be improved?

I believe that the current process for property revaluation is fraught with inconsistencies.  The recent revaluation has shifted the highest tax burden to specific districts and increased the values significantly beyond the fair market value of many homes inciting substantial tax increases that have negatively impacted a large number of residents within those areas.  It is apparent that the process must be evaluated to determine more effective ways to assess property. I propose that part of the solution rests in having revaluations occur more frequently.  This process may increase operational costs but will insure a more level fluctuation in property and fair market value of a home.  Another part of the solution would be to insure that the revaluation department has the adequate resources needed to complete appropriate assessments on the homes within the county borders.  I would also suggest that the same process be used across the region in regards to short sales and bankruptcies in determining the value of a home as it appears they were used in some areas and not in others in this last revaluation.  I would also include the expertise of local real-estate professionals who are considered professionals in our local markets.  Their knowledge  of "fair market" value I believe is critical to insuring we are assessing homes correctly.

Where do your budget priorities fall? Are there areas where you see the county could save money?

The largest single item in the county budget is Education Services (operations and debt service) and is also what I believe is one of the most important priorities of the county.  We know that educating our youth and preparing them for gainful, fulfilling employment is critical to their future success and is a cornerstone to a strong and healthy community.  In terms of saving money, I believe programs that are not producing expected outcomes should not be recipients of tax dollars in addition to the fact that many service organizations have become "dependent" on the County for a significant portion of their budget. I find this a detrimental practice for the county, taxpayer and the depended social serving entity.

Where do you stand on consolidation?

I am not a proponent of consolidating both the city and county functions.  I believe that to be efficient, both bodies should unite where possible in regards to operational functions and this has already been done on both "back office" and taxation. Overall, I believe that consolidation allows an opportunity for a smaller number of people to assume more control and moves government further away from the people. Having the two elected bodies (city and county) is important to insure proper representation in government, which is the purpose of an elected official!

County Commissioners have been criticized for their inability to get along at times. How would you improve communication and relationships?

I would like to utilize my campaign platform and the information on my website to address this question as the decisiveness of the Commission is a concern for many in the community.  Partnership is critical to advancing any cause, mission, vision or program.  As an elected body, it is imperative that we all focus on the end result, or the vision of what the community can and will look like should we all work together.  To do this, we must place our ego's aside and hold each other respectfully accountable to insure that we are making the best decisions for the community.  As such, I have pledged the following (on website):
As a representative of the people of District 5, I pledge to stand on principles of leadership that promote partnership and common ground as necessary to outline a clear vision of what this community can and will look like. Opportunity is not a "left or right" issue. We all agree on the need to reduce our unemployment rate and put our citizens back to work; we all agree that better schools and safer neighborhoods are critical to our future; and we all agree that poverty is undesirable and damaging to individuals and families. We must set aside our differences and work together to meet these great challenges.

Is there one issue or concern that motivated you to enter the race more than any other?

There are many issues that I believe energized my desire to run for a leadership position in the community but the single issue that catapulted my foray into politics was the receipt of my family's most recent property tax bill. We are more than willing to pay our "fair share" of taxes; however our home was revaluated significantly more than it is worth thus our family, like many others in district 5, experienced a significant increase in property taxes.  Since that time, I have had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of people in this district during my campaign most of whom feel frustrated and angered by the fact that they are paying more than their fair share in terms of taxes and they are not just high, but a burden.  It is this issue and the on-going concern that our taxes will continue to increase, that led me run for County Commission as the current county revenue model is unsustainable and a detriment to the overall well being of our county's future.