Matthews vies for four-year term

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Oct 25, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone Maggie Valley Aldermen Mike Matthews, left, and Phillip Wight man the Haywood County Republicans' booth at the Apple Harvest Festival with Rep. Michele Presnell.

After being appointed to the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen two years ago, Mike Matthews is running for a four-year term to finish the work he started.

“I think we’ve made a lot of good strides, but I think more could have been done,” he said. “We lowered taxes by taking a good look at the budget and without reducing services.”

Matthews said he felt like more could have been accomplished much more had it not been for a lack of communication on the board.

Matthews moved to Maggie Valley with his family when he was 16. He has moved away a couple of times, but has been back for six years now. He said he has worked in the banking and finance business for most of his professional life, including being the business development manager for a mortgage company.

He said his professional experience is beneficial to the position of aldermen because he had to “think of new ways to get work done and save money.”

Before being appointed to the board of aldermen, Matthews served on the planning board and is familiar with many of the town’s ordinances, which he said gave him an advantage over many of the other candidates.

If elected, his top three goals are to continue to look closely at the budget for opportunities to save the town money and lower taxes, review and update the town’s road maintenance policy and continue to grow the local business community.

“The big thing is the budget — listening to the taxpayers and trying to accommodate all of them and still having the town run smoothly,” he said.

While he said the town government was in great shape financially considering the state of the economy, he said the town is “still not willing to make the sacrifices it needs to” as far as cutting expenses. He said the festival grounds and the police department were two departments where money could still be saved.

“The police department has the largest budget so that’s where we have to look,” he said.

Matthews has found himself on one side of a 2-2 deadlock on the board, often voting with fellow Alderman Phillip Wight. But Matthews said he was willing to compromise on just about anything.

“The budget we compromised on, Move Maggie Forward we’ve compromised on…  numerous things we’ve compromised on,” he said. “I’ve gotten criticism but I don’t think I can be any more transparent. I say what I’m thinking and I speak out.”

Some residents claim Matthews doesn't even live within the Maggie Valley city limits anymore, but Matthews said he lives at 164 Rolling Lane in Maggie half of the time to help out with his elderly parents. He said he spends the other half of his time at his condo at Maggie Valley Country Club.

Matthews said he didn’t think many residents were getting enough road service for the taxes they pay to the town. If the town takes over a road, he said the town needed to be able to provide maintenance, snow plowing and lighting.

“If we take over roads we need to make it work,” he said. “We’ve got to stop saying no and find a way to say yes. We need to be the solution and not the problem for residents and businesses.”

To encourage more business to open in Maggie, Matthews said the town needed to offer lower impact fees and tax incentives to help fill Maggie’s empty buildings. He said the businesses that are grandfathered in and don’t have to meet the more stringent appearance standards need to be offered incentives to encourage them to renovate and improve their buildings. He said many hotel owners didn’t want to renovate because they would have to meet the higher standards.

He said waiving the impact fees for businesses in the last two years worked because it allowed businesses to expand and allowed a laundry mat to open in town. While he thinks the Move Maggie Forward plan could help the economy, he said it was up to the business community to implement it.

“If they ask for (the board’s) help we can try but otherwise the businesses need to do it,” he said. “We will listen, but we don’t need to interject our ideas.”

Matthews said that a separate organization from the Chamber of Commerce should lead the Move Maggie Forward plan so it isn’t just the chamber members participating. He added that Dale Walksler with Wheels Through Time would be a great facilitator for the plan.

As for the bickering among board members, he thinks that could change depending on who is elected in November.

“I think it can be resolved. I just don’t want to be lied to or left out of the loop,” he said. “Some people on the board think they can control the town how they always have without any input.”