January 19, 2011 - In 2011, budget remains a top priority for local government leaders, but reform is also up there.
Independence Township Supervisor Dave Wagner hopes for a better year than last year, which he called "nothing but turmoil and confusion."
"It just seems everything we do is just an argument on every single issue," Wagner said. "I hope the board can look at our differences and use them more effectively and constructively."
Clarkston City Council member Peg Roth hopes city committees, boards and commissions are more accountable to each other and the city, and more fair and respectful to residents.
"There have been issues with meetings not being posted properly or cancelled without notice to the parties involved," Roth said. "This needs to be corrected."
Disputes such as with owners of 164 N. Main need to be avoided this year, she said.
"I think we want to encourage not discourage people to want to move to our city, know they are being treated fairly, do improvements to their homes and use the wonderful services we have available," she said.
City government can do many things better, said Council member Richard Bisio.
"I hope to work with the other council members to improve our operations and provide a responsible and responsive government to our residents and businesses," he said. "We must look at all of the city's expenditures and ask if they are necessary and, if so, whether we are doing things as efficiently as possible."
City budget should be more closely monitored, Bisio said.
"More attention given to the need to authorize expenditures before the fact rather than spending first and then modifying the budget to catch up to what was previously done," he said.
Clarkston Community School officials will continue improving transparency between district and public, and hope for state-funding reforms by the new governor and legislators.
"I would love to see Gov. Rick Snyder put a two-year budget process in place," said Susan Boatman, board vice-president. "This would allow our townships and school district to make funding decisions based on knowing projected revenues."
Trustee Rosalie Lieblang also looks forward to understanding Snyder's thoughts and priorities for education, while pressing legislature to fund education.
"As a community, we have to continue to let all of our state and federal representatives know funding for education has to be a top priority," Lieblang said.
"We need to see continued reforms at the
state level that will save us dollars locally on retirement and healthcare," said board President Steve Hyer.
Springfield Township needs creative ways to help and attract businesses by addressing burdensome regulations, said Supervisor Mike Trout.
"We need to work closely with our new state government leaders to protect our state shared revenue in particular," Trout said. "I remain very optimistic about our future, and it will be important for our board to continue to stay focused on those we serve."
Other officials are also optimistic about 2011.
"Clarkston has been a vital and stable city throughout it's long and historic past and I am confident that we will enhance that history and continue the tradition of being a great community," said Mayor Joe Luginski. "I encourage our residents to volunteer for our city's activities and to come to the council meetings. We are always looking for new ideas to enhance our city."
Springfield Township will provide the best services available despite declining revenues, said Trustee Judy Hensler.
"The board worked hard on a budget that decreased costs while maintaining our current standards," Hensler said.
"Planning for the township during difficult economic times will help encourage growth and make Springfield Township a more desirable place to live," said Trustee Roger Lamont. "The outlook for Springfield Township remains positive."
Independence Township bright spots include new parks and recreation director and deputy supervisor, said Treasurer Curt Carson.
"I think the new deputy supervisor is going to be able to help the supervisor out greatly as far as the whole budget process," Carson said.
Financially, the township is in good shape – he will know more when he gets the 2011 assessing figures, he said.
"We should have a pretty good handle on that in March," he said. "Hopefully we're going to have a great year."
In Clarkston, new businesses have opened, and retailers had a good holiday season, Roth said.
"Let's hope our retailers continue to flourish thereby attracting more residents and more retailers to our city," she said.
Budget solutions for Springfield Township include grants and partnerships with surrounding communities and Oakland County, while controlling personnel costs, said Clerk Laura Moreau.
"My personal solution to the challenges faced by our community is to continue to support local service groups such as Neighbor For Neighbor, Friends of the Library, Friends of the Parks and my church community," Moreau said.
Springfield Township Trustee Dave Hopper finds the future depressing.
"In 2012, we will deplete the majority of the fund balance and have to make a significant contribution from the General Fund to maintain the same service level," Hopper said. "The police fund will have to appropriate $180,000 from the prior year fund balance to maintain the same level of service that our residents are accustomed to receiving."