October 21, 2013

Candidate profiles: Varnell City Council, Pourquoi

Pourquoi concerned about debt

Misty Watson

— Jan Pourquoi says the city of Varnell is broke.

“The next four years should be focused on finances,” said Pourquoi, 54, who has owned floor covering company Global Works LLC since 2006. “We did some big construction projects (a new City Hall and senior center) and now we need four years of financial reconstruction.”

Pourquoi faces Michael Willocks in the Nov. 5 election for Seat 2 on the Varnell City Council. Brent Newsome, who currently holds the seat, is not seeking re-election.

Early voting is under way and continues through Nov. 1.

Pourquoi, who studied political history in Europe, said he decided to run at the urging of some friends and his wife Debra.

“Faith in politics is at an all-time low,” he said. “I hope to make a small contribution to fix that — starting at the local level. We all complain about the federal government wasting money. Local government often does the same. Varnell is in bad shape financially.”

Pourquoi is concerned about the city’s debt, which was partially accrued because of the recent building projects, and about the city’s lack of reserve funds.

“Step one for 2014, we need to start by analyzing the revenue stream,” Pourquoi said. “Whatever that number is, we need to take 5 percent off the top to start a reserve. That’s not to be touched. Then take off obligations. In other words, servicing our debt. Get that paid first. Then go on to other issues that are necessary. At some point we may have to cut. If we have to cut, we have to cut ... We just need to live within our means.”

Citing a printout of the budget from Aug. 31 of this year, Pourquoi said expenditures at that point were approximately $770,000 and the budget for the year at that point was set at approximately $975,000. It has since been lowered to just under $875,000.

“The city was left with four months in the year, and $100,000,” he said. “I’m going by their numbers.

“Everyone wants to be Santa Claus,” Pourquoi said. “There’s nothing fun about making decisions that could affect people and their personal budgets. My first priority is to get finances in order.”

Pourquoi also wants to make people more aware of the finances and where their tax dollars are going by making the budget items more easily available by putting the budget online.

Pourquoi would also like to help the impoverished and elderly in Varnell.

“I go door to door,” he said. “There’s a lot of poverty in Varnell. People are going through very hard times. I would like to have the police department knock on the doors of the elderly. Some don’t know (services) are out there. I don’t mean to make the police department social workers, but add a social dimension to their work somehow. It would be nice. I think small cities should go in that direction.”

Pourquoi came to Whitfield County from Belgium legally in 1987 and became a U.S. citizen in 1994. He has a daughter, Allison.

Anything else he wants people to know?

“I am a male, not a female,” he said. “My name is not Jan (as in rhyming with pan). It is Jan (pronounced yahn). But you can call me anything you want provided you vote for me.”