The Sound’s 2015 Dover City Council Voter’s Guide: Joseph Nicolella

Joseph Nicolella Jr. (Ward 4)

Joseph Nicolella Jr. (Ward 4)

For Ward 4: Joseph J. Nicolella, Jr.
Age: 50
Occupation: Self-employed, Transition Metals Recycling, LLC
Years living in Dover: 10
Prior public service experience: Member, Solid Waste Advisory Commission, 2006-present; Ice Arena Commission, 2006-2007.

As rental housing development increases downtown, what can the city do to keep Dover affordable for middle- and working-class residents?
Dover’s involvement in housing development should be limited to the determination of use for zoning purposes. The cost of housing is based on supply/demand; therefore, housing costs are established by the market, not the city. There’s a misconception that renters do not pay property tax; however, landlords pay property tax, and renters do indirectly pay property tax as part of their rent. Provided that rental properties values are assessed based on “market value” for property tax purposes, these properties will pay their fair share of taxes unless assessments have been based on the same factors as single-family homes. The city should confirm (that) assessment values reflect “market value” for all properties, regardless of use, on the next round of assessments.

How can the city address the impact of downshifting costs from state government to municipalities?
The downshifting of costs seems to be a perpetual problem at all levels — federal to state, state to municipal, municipal to resident. Collectively, the city council is responsible to ensure the state’s portion of our taxes is proportionate to the services the residents and city receive, and to lobby the legislature for the appropriation of funding for items that should be handled and paid for at the state level.

Would you be willing to support a tax cap override while developing city budgets? Why or why not?
Yes, in certain circumstances that might have a significant impact on city operations and infrastructure, the public safety of Dover, or matters that offer long-term potential savings for the taxpayer. While I personally do not believe a tax cap was necessary, I believe the override option was established to allow for the unplanned or catastrophic expenses of significant impact to city operations. Conversely, while the tax cap provides a hard benchmark for a potential tax increase, we should always strive to develop a budget that falls in below the cap, and continuously look for cost savings opportunity in day-to-day operations.

The council recently voted to approve funding for a new high school, and construction of a new police station/parking garage is under way. What should the city’s priorities be for future capital improvement projects?
At this point, we should take a pause and re-evaluate any forecasted capital improvement projects. We should then prioritize those that impact the city’s basic infrastructure, i.e., roads, water and sewer services, and public safety, postponing and/or eliminating some of the items that might be “nice to have.”

How can the city best address the increased costs associated with federal EPA regulations regarding stormwater and wastewater management?
The city manager and staff should continue to stay abreast to the activities of the EPA, the impact of the current regulations, and provide input on the upcoming update to the rules to be proposed in December 2015 and finalized in November 2016. We should also be reviewing any opportunity for potential grants and applying as appropriate. Lastly we should be encouraging the greater use of “green” infrastructure solutions in future private and municipal development projects. This would include the use of porous pavement, green roofs, road/parking lot plantings, etc.

What was the most recent cultural event you attended in Dover? The Cochecho Arts Festival free summer concert series.

What is the most important issue facing the city that no one is talking about yet?
Road reconstruction throughout the city.