RUSSELLVILLE — Four years ago, District 1 City Councilman Jeff Masterson defeated David Palmer by 30 votes to win the council seat.
On Tuesday, the two will again square off in a run-off elections.
Masterson, who won 34.5 percent of the primary votes to Palmer’s 47 percent, said he’s spoken with his constituents and found that their number one concern is the condition of Russellville’s streets.
“I’ve come up with a very common-sense way to keep paving our streets,” he said.
He said more money could be generated for street paving and maintenance by taking revenue from the city’s alcohol sales, the 3-cent city gasoline tax and saving money by refinancing city bonds on infrastructure, such as the Fire Department and City Hall, to garner lower interest rates.
In the case of legal alcohol sales revenue, for example, Masterson said people aren’t always “getting the most bang for their buck.”
“Right now, that money is going to the general fund,” he said.
“Once it gets there ... a lot of times we buy city equipment that should be charged out of the capital improvements fund. I just want residents to be able to see the most bang for their buck from the legal alcohol sales revenue, especially since federal money is going to be few and far between.”
As for the 3-cent city gas tax, Masterson said its sole purpose was always to maintain and pave streets.
“I think we’ve gotten way too far away from that,” he said. “We need to get back to its intention.”
Palmer said improving the overall quality of life, not just street maintenance, is on his agenda. This way, the economy itself will improve, he said.
“We have people leaving our city to go where they can live and work and feel more comfortable investing their money,” Palmer said. “My hope is our local government will encourage people to stay here and attract new families.”
Palmer said he believes the Geographic Information System (commonly called GIS), which is an online map of Franklin County that displays all of its landmarks, will entice people to visit Russellville.
“If we can get all of that technology in place and grow that technology and use it in our day-to-day decision-making, I believe our government can become more transparent and more prepared,” he said. “I have experience working in government for 22 years, and I have an understanding of how cycles work and the shifts in the way we think about things. (Turning things around) is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Palmer pointed out that Russellville is in the midst of an economic downturn, but that simply means there is time to reflect on how to improve.
“It gives us an opportunity to tweak things, change things, to make things better,” he said.
“And to understand what we’re doing, both good and bad, and what helped us get to the point where we are. Then we can look back and see what we can do to make things better.
“We’re in that time now where we can reflect. When all the smoke clears and we get back into an economy that’s prosperous, we will be able to take advantage of what lies ahead.”
Hannah Mask can be reached at 256-740-5728 or hannah.mask@TimesDaily.com.