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Library director now a councilman



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September 18, 2013 - Oxford Village's new councilman isn't new to the inner workings of local government.

Last week, council voted 4-0 to appoint Byran Cloutier to the seat vacated last month when Tony Albensi resigned.

Cloutier has served as director of the Oxford Public Library since May 2007 and as a member of the village planning commission since February 2009. He currently chairs the planning commission.

A six-year village resident, Cloutier previously served on the Oxford Area Cable Communications Commission from May 2007 to August 2009. He's a member of the Rotary Club of Oxford and serves as a trustee on the Northeast Oakland Historical Society board.

Cloutier is no stranger to the money side of local government and judging by the questions asked by council members during the interview process, they were clearly looking for someone with financial knowledge and experience.

As library director, Cloutier is responsible for "the complete budget, from its conception through its implementation."

He noted that when he first came to Oxford six years ago, the library's budget was between $1.3 million and $1.4 million.

"During the last several years, I've been working with my board and team to reduce our expenses by nearly $400,000," he said. "At the same time, we've built (up) our fund balance by $500,000. And we've not made any cuts to critical services that the community relies on us for."

Cloutier also has experience working with the library's accountant to prepare the entity's annual audit.

"I'm completely familiar with government standards and accounting," he said. "That being said, I have a strong understanding of how the corporate sector works as well. And I think we have to be able to bridge the gap between the two, especially in government today, given the restraints of economic shortfalls that we've all been faced with."

Councilman Elgin Nichols asked Cloutier if he has any experience obtaining grants.

"I've been involved with grants from a couple of thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars," said Cloutier, who noted he's also sat on grant review committees where he tried to help others obtain funding.

When asked by Councilwoman Sue Bossardet if he understands how the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) obtains its funding, Cloutier replied, "I certainly do because my entity is one of the taxing authorities that it diverts funds from."

Cloutier will serve on council until the November 2014 election, when all five seats will be up for grabs.

As far as running for office, Cloutier told council, "I'll cross that bridge when it happens, but with that being said, I am prepared . . . to make the difficult decisions, even when they may not be popular.

"I would like to do what is best for this community, popular or not, and if that means not being re-elected, then that's what it means."

Two other village residents, Madonna Van Fossen and Mike Young, were also interviewed for the open council seat.

Van Fossen was director of the DDA until her position was eliminated as of July 1 due to budget cuts. She's now employed by St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac.

Young, who's served on the township planning commission since March 2012, has 16 years experience in the business world working for the Thieme Corporation. He's the director of sales and marketing for North America and oversees an annual budget of more than $100 million.

Both Van Fossen and Young stated their willingness to run for council next year.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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