December 04, 2013 - "I can't believe how fast this year has flown by," said Independence Township supervisor Pat Kittle, marking his one year anniversary in office.
Under his leadership, Kittle said he aims to continue providing the best possible service to residents at the lowest cost possible.
Kittle said when he took office he and other elected officials created a mission statement focused on communications, fiscal, operations, economic growth, community and infrastructure.
Kittle also discussed how important he believes it is to partner with The Clarkston News. A new partnership agreement will soon be underway with the Clarkston News special section reaching all township residents, with the first one set for next week, Dec. 11.
One major change that has occurred includes the transfer of the local public access channel from a Maybee Road studio to the Clarkston High School.
"The end goal is to create and broadcast the best about Independence Township," said Kittle.
Finalizing 2014 budgets are underway and Kittle said the township is committed to maintaining fiscal responsibility in the budgeting process. "We are looking pretty good from a financial perspective," he said.
Finances are so good the township's credit rating went up from an AA rating to an AA plus, which means a better financing rate on any money borrowed for projects.
"Our goal is to not spend more than we collect in taxes," said Kittle.
Some of the money saved over the last year is work outsourced to outside companies. In April 2013, the township voted to outsource human resources and technical work which led to a cost savings of $125,000 a year.
The new HR company has been in the process of creating job description employee policy manuals evaluation and ethics policies, documents and polices which Kittle said have been missing or lackluster for years.
"We felt bringing in a professional organization would be in the best interest of the township," Kittle told The Clarkston News in April.
Outsourcing IT services resulted in an additional $25,000 in savings.
Kittle said Independence Township's collaboration with Oakland County on Capital Asset Management and Mapping Tools saved the township $60,000, and officials continue to speak with Orion and Oakland Townships as well as Oakland County on other web-related projects.
A DPW vehicle was recently refurbished saving $30,000 rather than paying for a new vehicle at a cost of over $130,000.
"We saved the $30,000 through aggressive bidding policies," he said.
Additional savings have accumulated through prudent costs associated with technical infrastructure like computers and monitors.
Independence Township has also partnered with neighboring communities Orion and Oakland Townships to work on combining services like human resources, as well as connecting safety paths.
Capital Asset Management and mapping tools saved the township $60,000, said Kittle.
Several new committees have also been created under Kittle's leadership including a video center advisory board for Independence Township, and a committee to council and make recommendations on fund balance investments.
Work on the website is going slower than expected, according to Kittle, adding he is working to increase work on the website which he estimates will be completed by spring 2014.
Another project projected to cost over $4 million to $4.5 million dollars includes work on areas of Sashabaw Road and 1-75 as well as the Waldon Road intersection.
"Cost revisions have brought estimated costs down," said Kittle.
The committee also is charged with finding funding sources including a financial commitment from McLaren Health Care System to help fund the cost of improvements.
Kittle said he also has several future goals he will continue to work on.
"We will continue working to keep board meetings to a couple of hours and staying on agenda," said Kittle. "While not as smooth as we would like, we're getting better at following parliamentary procedure and staying on task."
Kittle added officials want homeowners to know they are available to attend homeowners association meetings to answer questions and gather feedback from residents.
"We also will soon be conducting a town hall meetings with homeowner associations presidents from across Independence Township to seek input and ideas on how we can provide better services to the community," said Kittle.
"Your elected team quickly found there is no shortage of opportunities in our Township. We've come a long way in twelve short months. We also realize we have a long way to go," remarked Kittle. "With your help and continued support it should be an interesting journey."
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.