Eagle City Council: Jeff Kunz

October 8, 2013 

Name: Jeff Kunz

Age: 51

Occupation: Semi-retired. Former manager and engineer. Walden University, National Technological University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science: Part-time faculty. Hewlett-Packard Company: R&D Program Manager, R&D Project Manager, Software Engineer and Product Assurance Engineer

Education: Walden University, National Technological University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science Master in Systems Engineering; National Technological University Master in Business Administration; National Technological University Master in Computer Engineering; University of Idaho Bachelor in Computer Science

Prior Political Experience: Associated Students University of Idaho Student Senator and President Pro-Tempore; Meridian High School Student Body President

Civic involvement: Co-chairman, Eagle City Hall Location Task Force, 2009–2010 (background activities, such as writing of articles, continued through 2013); Chairman and Treasurer, Committee in Favor of Eagle City Hall Ownership, 2012–2013; Advisory Board Member and Mentor, Eagle Entrepreneurial Zone (“EEZ Street”), 2013; Member, working group that conducted “due diligence” for the terrain park at the Ada-Eagle Sports Complex, 2013

Years living in Eagle: 18

Family: Single

Website: www.Kunz4Eagle.com

Social media accounts: None

Endorsements: Eagle City Councilman John Grasser and Foad Roghani, co-owner of Camille Beckman.

1. What makes you a better choice for voters than your opponent(s)?

Here’s why I’m the best choice for voters: I envision our future city government as innovative, responsive and fiscally responsible, with council members who strive for balance, vet important issues and make policy decisions that are honest, transparent and aligned with constituents.

I constantly attend council meetings (for six years running). I’m well-versed on local issues. I’m an 18-year Eagle resident with a strong, local public service record. I led the task force and committee that favored purchasing Eagle City Hall (as approved by 90.97 percent of voters), conducted due diligence for the terrain park and served on EEZ Street’s advisory board.

I earned business administration, systems engineering and computer engineering master’s degrees and a computer science bachelor’s degree. My financial, economic and decision-making expertise applies to public administration.

I will use my 27 years of leadership, business and academic experience to solve our city’s important issues.

2. If elected, what are your top three priorities? How will you accomplish them? Please provide specifics.

1. Ensure elected city officials act as a functional team to make correct and informed policy decisions. I will foster teamwork by: Involving stakeholders and the community in formulating plans and decisions; seeking appropriate inputs before making decisions; encouraging interaction and cooperation; and striving for win-win solutions. Proper team management improves leadership credibility and innovation in our local government.

2. Manage growth. We must manage growth by stabilizing the city’s mix of land uses and long-term tax funding and controlling city government’s spending. For details, please read my answers to questions 6 and 7.

3. Encourage economic development and maintain our high quality of life. We must encourage economic development and job creation through placemaking, growing the city’s commercial sector and keeping property taxes low. For details, please read my answers to questions 3, 7 and 8.

3. What is the one thing your city should start doing to encourage economic development and create jobs?

The one thing Eagle should start doing to encourage economic development and create jobs is placemaking, an approach to the planning, design and management of vibrant public spaces.

I subscribe to the idea that community appeal drives economic prosperity:

“Cities need appealing places – parks, plazas, main streets, markets – where people can interact. Provide them, and prosperity – in the form of jobs – will follow. […] Placemaking is the best way to generate lasting prosperity at a time when technology gives people and companies greater flexibility to do business wherever they please.” Brad Broberg, “Placemaking: A Community’s Appeal Drives Economic Prosperity.” On Common Ground. Winter 2011

The city’s comprehensive plan recommends promotion of an economic base complementary to our rural identity and identification of areas that will provide significant employment opportunities.

The plan also encourages downtown revitalization and new commercial development adjacent to downtown, including mixed use, technical and light manufacturing.

4. How do you envision your city 10 to 20 years from now? How should it change?

Within 10 to 20 years, I envision:

Public trust in city government will improve as future-elected city officials work as a functional team to make correct and informed policy decisions.

Eagle will protect its character, natural beauty and rural transitional identity.

Eagle will capitalize on its local assets to create safe and family-friendly neighborhoods, a prosperous downtown, profitable commercial districts, diverse sports/recreational opportunities and a strong sense of place.

Eagle’s city government will successfully sustain itself at build-out by stabilizing its mix of land uses and long-term tax funding.

Eagle will be debt-free (having repaid its library and city hall bonds).

Eagle will achieve a sustainable, fiscal model for on-going city operations.

To change, our future city government must be “innovative, responsive and fiscally-responsible,” with council members who work together to manage growth, encourage economic development and maintain our high quality of life.

5. Are you concerned about public apathy and involvement in civic matters? How would you get more people involved?

Yes, I’m concerned about public apathy and lack of involvement in civic matters.

Researchers XiaoHu Wang and Montgomery Wan Wart found that:

People participate when they believe they can influence the process and value the rewards; and participation increases trust in government through public services improvements and enhanced ethical behaviors by city officials.

For example, the task force that favored purchasing Eagle City Hall found ownership meant significantly reduced city costs and less potential for property tax increases. A committee publicly explained these advantages and encouraged voters to support the bond election, as overwhelmingly approved last May. These public service improvements, and ethical behaviors, will increase public trust.

To get more people involved, we must: overcome apathy with enthusiasm; demonstrate how participation can improve public services, enhance ethical behaviors and increase trust; execute effective plans; and make streaming video/audio from all city meetings available.

6. What are the top two issues facing Eagle, and how should they be addressed?

The top two issues facing Eagle are to:

Ensure elected city officials act as a functional team to make correct and informed policy decisions. This must be addressed by fostering “teamwork” through: Involving stakeholders and the community in formulating plans and decisions; seeking appropriate inputs before making decisions; encouraging interaction and cooperation; and striving for win-win solutions. Proper team management improves leadership credibility and innovation in our local government.

Manage growth. We must manage growth by stabilizing the city’s mix of land uses and long-term tax funding. (This must also be done to encourage economic development.) For details, please read my answers to questions 3, 7 and 8.

Another important aspect of managing growth is controlling city government’s spending. Specifically, spending decisions must have strong rationales and justifications. And policy decisions that create recurring financial obligations must be understood and minimized.

7. Eagle is 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial. Should Eagle grow its commercial sector? Why?

Yes, Eagle must grow its commercial sector to stabilize the city’s long-term tax funding and sustainability. We must ensure Eagle’s “actual” mix of land uses tracks to that “proposed” in the comprehensive plan.

Eagle will hit its build-out population by 2014 and will run out of vacant land approximately by 2018. At build-out, the city must be able to sustain itself, including infrastructure and parks, without use of building permit, impact and zoning fees.

The comprehensive plan will shift commercial (non-residential) land uses to 25 percent (as shown in the table); however, this percentage should be closer to 35 percent.

Except for residential, mixed use is the next highest proposed land use (at 7 percent) because it maximizes revenue per developed acre.

8. Eagle has one of the state's lowest property tax rates. Keeping property tax rates low means less money for city infrastructure and amenities, like parks. Do you support keeping Eagle's tax rate low? Why?

Yes, I support keeping Eagle’s property tax rate low. The preferred long-term solution to ensuring that Eagle can fund, improve and support itself, including infrastructure and parks, is to stabilize the city’s long-term tax funding by growing the commercial sector, not by increasing property taxes. (This is explained in my answer to question 7.)

Both residential and commercial land uses generate property tax revenue. However, commercial land uses generate proportionally more tax revenue because of revenue-sharing; for example, the city receives a share of the state’s sales tax and other revenues.

By stabilizing the city’s mix of land uses and increasing commercial land uses, particularly mixed use developments, we will stabilize the long-term tax funding.

To keep property tax rates low, we also need to control city government’s spending, utilize public-private partnerships and benchmark city services (with respect to quality, time and cost) to identify where process improvements are possible.

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