By Maralisa Marra
Ward 3 candidate Vance Sosinski seeks to represent Pleasant Hill in the June 7 City Council election. The homeless situation in Shinnston is his driving force for running for City Council because he wants to lend a hand to those in need of housing.
“I would like to form a coalition of citizens to get a petition to our legislators in Charleston…This is not a problem that’s exclusive to Shinnston…So I’d definitely like to petition our state legislators to help us out in some way,” he said.
Sosinski has been a resident in Shinnston for 26 years and works as the manager for the local Ace Hardware store. He is also a volunteer with The Family Service of Marion and Harrison Counties, a nonprofit that provides counseling and in-home care.
Sosinski believes that the city is in desperate need of at least one more bank, so he plans to approach banking institutions to bring another into town. He said that if the city has some more financial institutions located within its limits, then it would be an incentive for more businesses to locate in Shinnston because there will be more banks creating business loans. Sosinski also wants to work with state and federal agencies to get more business loans readily available for new businesses in Shinnston.
Sosinski said he hopes to lower B&O taxes for new businesses and wants to create a one-to-two-year moratorium on paying B&O taxes for new businesses until they get established. He wants to either cut the B&O taxes by 50% or cut them entirely for a year until the new businesses become established. B&O taxes are a significant revenue source for the city, making up about $380,000 of the city’s $1.96 million budget. Asked how to make up for these tax cuts in the city’s nearly $2 million yearly budget, he said he is interested in getting some type of government grant that encourages new business start-ups to recover the lost tax funds.
He is interested in helping new businesses grow to be successful in the city, so he hopes to create a business incubator where new business owners can get started, and once they are established, they can move to a better location. To fund this business incubator, Sosinski said there are a number of small commercial properties available in town that the city could acquire through government grant money to house the business incubator.
He is somewhat supportive of annexation, which would involve purchasing outside property to expand city limits. “I support limited annexation,” he said. “Right now, the city needs to focus on what we are and work to improve everything within our current jurisdiction. I’m not opposed to annexation provided we can financially handle that.”
He said he completely supports an increase to the city budget for housing in the city because more residents will help support local businesses.
As for privately owned dilapidated structures, Sosinski said he plans to be on the lookout for state and federal monies that the city can get to assist in remedying this situation. He wants to work with the property owners to either remove the dilapidated structures or get the property in the hands of the city. As for the Murphy building, if in the hands of the city, Sosinski thinks it has potential to be utilized as the city’s business incubator. He also referenced potential grant funding.
Sosinski believes the water plant needs a lot of improvements since the city is starting to reach out into some outlying areas to provide water services. He said, “For us to grow as a city and add new residential areas or new business areas, the sewage definitely has to be a priority to get it expanded.” Therefore, he supports the potential deal with Greater Harrison PSD to expand wastewater operations to areas outside the city, which could result in more debt and higher sewage rates.
He also said he believes the city has a long way to go with street improvement, so if elected, he hopes to speed up the paving process to lessen flooding and stormwater issues. He believes these street issues can be alleviated with existing monies if allocated properly.
In regard to parks and recreation, Sosinski believes the south end and west side of the city lack recreation areas, so he hopes to create community recreation within these areas to appeal to the younger generations through a combination of fundraisers and grant money.
Editor’s Note: Shinnston’s municipal election is scheduled for June 7. City Council candidates were questioned about their interest in the role, as well as their plans for economic development, infrastructure, including planned sewer and water expansion projects, and dilapidated buildings, including the Murphy building. They were also asked how they would achieve their goals.