Hall seeks city council spot after taking a break
A veteran of City Council, who took a break from local politics for a while, is seeking one of the three open seats on council in the Nov. 2 general election.
Bill Hall of 1212 Monroe Place, who served 12 years on council (2004-2016), is on the ballot. Hall is retired and drives for Uber part-time.
In an interview, Hall said his motivation for running was just as it was before — to protect the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars and to improve the quality of life in the city.
While on council, Hall served as its president and finance committee chairman, positions which are critical in deciding what to spend taxpayer dollars on.
If elected, he said, his number one priority will be his efforts to see that the American Rescue Plan funds received by the city are spent in such a way as to reduce and/or stabilize property taxes in upcoming years.
“I have a hard time following the city finances, especially the American Rescue Plan funds,” he said. “This amount of money is equal to an entire yearly budget.”
“I realize it can’t be used to pay down debt or pensions,” he said. “I think we need to explore how it can help the city taxpayers, though.”
“It should not be spent on creating new departments and bureaucracies in city government or wasted on consulting firms that seem to want to study everything under the sun but never accomplish anything,” he said.
This largesse surpasses whatever the city received in natural gas impact fees, he said.
As a fiscal conservative running as a Liberitarian party member, Hall said the city needs council members who have the experience of city budgetary matters.
When asked for a couple of ideas on how best to spend the rescue funds, Hall said brightening up the dark streets in the city would be a start.
Some city blocks are “dark pools of nothingness,” he said. He would proposed adding more street lights or repairing those that are broken or out.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize the city owns its lights,” he said.
Hall said another idea was the sidewalk replacement. Much of what does get repaired are in areas targeted for receiving Community Development Block Grants, or low to moderate income areas of the city.
Some of these sidewalk projects cost homeowners several thousand dollars a pop.
“For those who already paid their property taxes, I would like to see the city pursue grants for the sidewalk replacement or repair,” he said.
Hall’s independent streak extends to masks and vaccine mandates.
He has promised never to support mandatory masking requirements.
“I will not support mandatory vaccine requirements imposed on American citizens and businesses at any level of government,” he said.
He added that he would continue to loudly denounce any efforts at imposing vaccination passports anywhere.
“These grossly invasive mandates threaten our most basic and sacred rights as human beings and elected people at all levels of government must be made to remember that we, the people, are not government property and that our taxes are not their play money.”
Speaking to his time on the council, Hall cited his involvement in many quality of life improvements.
Some of these included projects such as adding more affordable housing, senior citizen housing, downtown business expansion and transportation enhancement.
Among the projects he was involved in was the transformation of the former Brodart warehouse on the 1600 block of Memorial Avenue into the Memorial Homes, a 40-unit apartment complex with and eye on continued use of gas fees to improve the surrounding neighborhoods.
He also was supportive of the efforts to get Grove Street Commons, a senior citizen housing complex in the East End.
Hall said he was on council and helped to facilitate with prior mayors the introduction of the downtown cinema and the Kohl’s department store.
He said he helped the area with its parking needs by supporting the Church Street deck and Trade and Transit Centre II.
Also business-minded, as a councilman he worked with developers who built Pine Square, Liberty Arena and was supportive of the conversion of a River Valley Transit bus fleet to natural gas.
Hall once ran an unsuccessful bid to be mayor and lost in the primary against former Mayor Gabriel J. Campana in 2015. During his campaign, Hall said he learned from residents that the heart of the city may be downtown, but the pulse is its neighborhoods.
As a resident of Monroe Place, Hall supports the small business endeavors at the Pajama Factory on Rose Street and the arts and entertainment communities that occupy the facility.
While in office, he said, Hall often took the lead during budget sessions to ensure what was passed made sense for the city operation and tax base.
During Hall’s previous stint on council, the city was reconstructing its industrial and commercial areas. Among his achievements was working with other council members and the administration on resurfacing Reach Road and creating a larger institutional zone in and around the UPMC Williamsport campus.
“The voters get three votes for City Council,” he said. “I would be honored if they would cast one of those votes for me.”