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Letters to Editor



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July 23, 2014 - On Tuesday, August 5, registered voters of Oxford Township and the Village of Oxford will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed Oxford Community Recreation Center. 

It has been my privilege to serve Oxford for the past twenty years as Parks and Recreation Director. 

It has been the vision of the Department to create a community that preserves and protects open space and provides its residents with diverse recreation opportunities that make Oxford a great place to live. 

During my tenure, the department has grown from 15 programs to well over 300 that provide positive healthy recreation opportunities for the entire community.

The department has created partnerships that together have raised private funds to construct amenities such as "Kids Kingdom Playground", "KLR Splashpad", "Red Rider Sled Hill" and "Devil's Ridge Disc Golf Course".  Additionally, Oxford Township Parks and Recreation has received over 2.5 million dollars in grants to purchase and protect open space areas and to develop a great park system.

Oxford Township Parks and Recreation has listened to the community to develop the programs and services enjoyed today.  The Department maintained transparency and fiscal integrity as it built the department to meet the changing needs of the community. 

The Community Recreation Center will be an investment in a healthy Oxford by providing a place where all residents can be active year round.  

Your parks and recreation department will expand its health and wellness, aquatic, athletic and leisure opportunities.  

Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Department values the trust of the community and we are committed to being a leader within the community.

Ron Davis

Oxford Twp. Parks & Recreation

NO votes for community rec. center

Let me start by saying I think the recreation department does an admirable job.

This proposed new center is not about that. This community is facing multiple increases in water cost and taxes. I feel as though we so soon forget that we haven't even come fully out of one of the worst economic periods in our history.

People lost their homes, savings, home values and jobs.

Now is not the time to add a luxury.

This community does not need a new community center. I'm sorry, if you have the disposable income, join one of the very fine gyms in Oxford or YMCA.

Try to make an agreement with the schools or one of the local communities to use their facilities at a cost. Try something, anything other than further burdening the hardworking taxpayers of Oxford.

This does not make economic sense and these types of fiscal decisions make me worry about how we are going to pay for other crucial issues that will come up over time like safety and aging infrastructure.

Sometimes you have to hold off on the shiny new thing, until you can actually afford it. I do not choose to put this community at risk. Fiscally, we cannot mortgage our future for this proposed new center.

I will be voting no.

Daniel Williams

Oxford

I've recently read a couple of letters to the editor supporting the new tax for the Oxford Community Center. I would like to present a common sense approach to this project.

The reasons put forth supporting the center range from increasing property values to the enhanced exercise and recreational opportunities it will provide. We are told that a Community Center would enhance the image of Oxford and that may increase property values. How does overtaxing anything increase its value? Common sense says it really just increases the cost of living here.

We are told this project would provide more exercise and recreational activities. They are both good ideas. If you want more exercise and recreation, do it on your dime.

Common sense says please stop asking the rest of us who have neither the time nor inclination to gather at a community center to pay for your recreation.

A few months ago this newspaper ran a lengthy article describing the other community centers in our area. This article clearly described the financial bust that the Orion Township Community Center has been and will be for the residents of that township. Common sense asks why would Oxford want to make the same mistake?

On August 5 let's let common sense have its day for a change and vote NO on the community center.

Jim Teller

Oxford

As a state and community we are barely recovering from some of the worst financial years most of us have ever experienced. Our property values have lost 50 percent or more of their value since 2009. A lot of us had to reinvent ourselves after devastating layoffs, company downsizing, or plant closures. With 401K accounts worth considerably less, and maybe a foreclosure, or short sale, on our credit rating now is not the time for our local government to burden us with more financial hardship in the form of increased taxes for an ill-timed community recreation center.

What are they thinking? Just because a fire/library debt millage expiries in 2016 they think they need to replace it with another combined 1.65 mill levy? Why not give the tax payers a break for a couple of years and not have any new millage to pay? Allow us to catch up and climb to higher financial ground before asking for more. The timing is ridiculous and ill-advised.

Taxes are a never ending spiral, so let's control them as a community while we have the chance by voting no for a new recreation center on Aug. 5. Like any other tax this will never go away and it will only keep creeping larger and larger no matter what type of spin the recreation department tries to apply to it. They are only providing us with numbers on what it will cost today and they have no idea what the true cost will be tomorrow. Once it's built we have no choice but to keep funding it no matter what the cost. The best way to avoid buyers' remorse is not to go down the slippery slope of building the center in the first place.

I ask you to join me in delivering a resounding defeat to any, and all, new tax levies that might appear on the Aug. 5 ballot.

Don Bokshan

Oxford

YES votes for library millage

We are fortunate to be living in a comfortable community that is a great place for our families to thrive. A big part of what makes it great is the Oxford Public Library.

Some non-library users have the impression that libraries are "obsolete" and "nobody uses libraries anymore." Had they walked through the Oxford Library lately they would see the reality. Adults use the computer lab for internet access and job seeking, as well as attending many informative programs. The youth and teen departments are teeming with young people and their parents: 718 children and 192 teens are participating in the summer reading program. Just two years ago, the figures were 607 children and 122 teens. Besides checking out books, parents and kids linger to do crafts or play with the many educational toys in the "Play 'n' Learn Zone." Teens hang out in the teen department and volunteer their time instead hanging out at the mall. By reading all summer these children will retain and improve their reading skills for the start of school in September.

Not just summer library use is up. More and more people are using the Oxford Library year round. This is happening while Library revenues have dropped. It has already cut expenses drastically. Does it really make sense to have the library cut hours, personnel, programs and materials when demand is the highest it has ever been? I don't think so. Oxford is a wonderful, vibrant town. The library helps make it so. It is not a luxury but a vital part of the community. Please vote yes on August 5 for the Library millage.

Chris McNally, President

Friends of the Oxford Public Library

Fifteen years ago as an immigrant family from the United Kingdom, out of all the communities we could have settled in in southeast Michigan we selected Oxford, with one of the significant contributing factors being the excellent public library, as we recognized it as the hub of the growing community here.

At that time our family needed access to reading materials for our two young sons, as well as social interaction with other families, being new to the USA. Over the intervening years our needs have changed, but the library is still the hub of Oxford, and we have taken advantage of all the library had to offer – Battle of the Books, the Summer Reading program, story time programs, craft projects, chess club, movies, Teen Advisory Board, volunteer opportunities for our boys working on their Eagle Scout requirements, and the lifesaving ability to print homework on a Sunday when our home printer was broken. We value all that our public library has to offer for all generations in Oxford, and we recognize that just as in the past five years our family's daily living expenses have increased, the same is true for Oxford Public Library. However, the library has had to cope with these increased costs at the same time as its income from property taxes has decreased.

It is time for the people of Oxford to show how much they truly value the library that they use in ever increasing numbers, and therefore enable it to continue to offer the excellent services to us that we all rely on. Let this not be one of those situations where we only realize how much we appreciated our library once its opening hours have to be reduced and service is diminished.

This is the first election that I am able to vote in as a new US citizen and I take that as a privilege, a right and a responsibility. Please remember to vote on August 5.

Sian Marshall

Oxford

Whether personally an avid library user or not, it is important that we come together as one community to support the Library's Millage request on August 5. Here is why:

Early childhood education, workforce development, and life-long learning are very important components of what the Oxford Public Library does. Not everyone associates these responsibilities with their public library—but economic development and early childhood literacy has become a large part of OPL's Plan of Service by strengthening the local economy and by attracting new families and businesses to relocate here. Statistics prove that a strong and vibrant public library that plays an active role in its community has a direct correlation on reducing crime and in increasing property values.

Approximately 300,000 people visited OPL last year. Nearly 240,000 items were borrowed from the library in formats ranging from a print book to a downloadable eBook in every format and in multiple platforms. Over 10,000 residents attended library programs, and nearly 22,000 gained access to the Internet through its high-speed wireless network, or by using one of its public computers to conduct their research. Trained and knowledgeable librarians answered over 27,000 reference questions and provided free Outreach Services (homebound delivery) to homebound patrons who were unable to come into the library on their own. Nearly 1,000 adults, teens and children have registered for the library's 2014 Summer Reading Program—this is an all-time record.

The library is asking voters to approve a 0.4518-mill tax to restore the tax rate previously authorized.

The last time the library received a tax increase was in 1995, nearly 20 years ago, when Oxford had less than 12,000 residents. Today, Oxford has over 25,000 residents, and as you would expect, library circulation is up as is demand for its programs. When the Library's request for an increase was not approved in 2012, some residents expressed a concern about it being perpetual (meaning forever). Hearing those concerns, this funding request will expire in 10 years. The estimate of the revenue the Township will collect if the millage is approved and levied in the 2014 calendar year is approximately $311,000. This will not replace all of the funds lost to a declining economy, but it does provide for a much more stable funding mechanism, and would allow the library to continue providing the level of service and programs it currently provides.

What has already been done to help offset the loss in revenue? Staffing levels have been reduced by nearly 36%; retirement compensation packages were reduced by 50%; salaries were frozen unilaterally over the last 7 years, this includes gross wages and fringe benefits; healthcare costs were already reduced by 21% and recently reduced by another 34% the end of June of this year; energy consumption was reduced by 14%; and the materials/book budget by 36%. This has been made possible by means of implementing business philosophies recognized and proven to be successful in the private sector.

Aside from taking the above actions, the library has also borrowed from its fund reserve (savings account) in an effort to forego any additional cuts to services, hours and programs and to make much needed improvements to its already aging infrastructure. By sharing with you the larger picture I hope you can understand the urgency of this matter. I believe it is time to come to together as one community to proactively resolve this issue and to secure the future of our library for future generations to come. As a public servant I would never presume to tell you how to vote, but as a fellow resident and taxpayer myself, I would just share with you that your support is greatly appreciated and never underestimated, nor is it ever taken for granted by my staff or by me. Thank you for your time and support. Please remember to vote on August 5.

Bryan J. Cloutier

Library Director & Village Resident

YES votes for NOTA's millage

I have lived in Oxford for 36 years. And whenever there is a millage for schools, police, the fire department, parks and rec and the library. I have always voted to support my community. Now I am asking my community to vote yes for NOTA.

NOTA is one of Oxford' finest transportation providers for our seniors, people with disabilities, members of our community who cannot afford a vehicle, and members of our community who lost their license because of medical conditions.

My leader dog Minor and I have been using NOTA since 2007. I have been able to have a successful career, go to my doctor's appointments, and exercise at Curves independently. I am asking you to please vote yes for NOTA. So 1,800 citizens of Oxford and Lake Orion and Addison can keep our independence.

Marsha Katona

Oxford

The North Oakland Transportation Authority provides transport van and mini-buses for the transit of qualifying residents of Addison, Orion and Oxford Townships.

Most of the vehicles are equipped with the wheelchair lifts. Their services allow seniors and the disabled to access medical and other professional appointments, Social Security Offices, Michigan Secretary of State to replace Driver's Licenses with a State ID card, grocery, clothing, personal and household care shopping, getting to jobs and job training.

Beside the physical transportation, an often overlooked service NOTA provide is a social aspect. Moving people from being homebound out to see friends, former co-workers, even to see some of those pesky relatives, does wonders both for their clients' mental and physical wellbeing.

NOTA is asking residents of the three townships to approve for a period of five years, 2014-2018, to a levy of ¼ mill or twenty-five cents ($0.25) per thousand dollars of taxable property value. For example, a property valued at $100,000 has a taxable value of $50,000. This would mean the cost of the proposed millage for NOTA would be $12.50 per year. VOTE YES FOR NOTA. I believe this would be money well spent to serve our communities.

Stu Wall

Oxford

Over the last year I have learned of a special service available to Seniors, disabled, low income and those that need rides to their doctors, jobs, kidney dialysis and grocery shopping. The dedicated administrators, drivers and board spend many hours making the most of the finances they have, and give their best.

Many around us daily struggle to survive without family, transportation, and find it difficult to obtain the basics, NOTA currently fills in the voids. Drivers go to the door and help those with wheelchairs and walkers make it into the buses.

Federal Funding has cut back finances, putting programming at risk. Possible 50 percent reduction in ridership. The millage request is about $12-$13 annually, with a SEV of $100,000 home or .25 mill.

We have some special people that benefit from NOTA. The little this costs will allow continued quality of life. Please give this your YES vote of support!

James R. Tichenor

Oxford

Just to let you know, NOTA has been a real life-saver for me. I've worked "full-time" since I turned 18 and have always been careful with my driving. On April 9, 2010 I had black out while driving to work. Despite my excellent driving record, my license was suspended because of this medical event.

NOTA got me to work and back. I have a few observations/notes to share with you:

1) I see the team at NOTA working very hard to meet the needs of each rider and at the same time, I see NOTA as being very responsible stewards of the funding they are allotted. I have met a whole group of people whom I never would have met. These people are genuinely disadvantaged. Anyone who thinks we don't need NOTA to get these people to work and to their doctor appointments should spend some "time on the bus" seeing for themselves the genuine need.

2) The drivers for NOTA are very safety conscious. I don't see them move the bus until everyone is buckled in and secure. They also know the law and they obey the law.

3) Most importantly, I see the NOTA drivers being professional and courteous to all the riders. I repeatedly observe the NOTA drivers treating everyone with respect, courtesy, and kindness.

I understand that some people don't understand what NOTA does. To them I make a couple of assertions:

1) If we are fortunate enough, we will all be seniors at some time in the future. It is not likely that all of your family will live in close proximity to you. You can expect to be "transportation challenged."

2) My traffic accident was the result of a "loss of consciousness" which is a lot like a single heartbeat. So, what's the difference between someone like me and everyone who currently has a valid Michigan Driver's License? Know this- there's just a heartbeat of difference between me and you. Your life can change in a heartbeat just like mine did.

I hope NOTA is there to help you as they have helped me. Please support NOTA on Aug. 5 and vote YES! Again thanks NOTA!

John Katona, Oxford

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