Source: Sherman Publications

Letter to Editor: DDA member breaks silence about public criticism

July 03, 2013

Over the past couple of months information has been provided to the public regarding the management of the Oxford Downtown Development Authority (DDA). As a current board member of the DDA, I have been frustrated by the public comments made by some property owners and village council members.

I chose to remain silent, because continued finger pointing resolves nothing! Recently another article appeared in the Oakland Press again disparaging the performance of the current DDA board. I can no longer remain silent.

The public interprets what it reads in the press and develops their own conclusions. Unfortunately, the conclusions many Oxford residents are formulating is that the DDA board is incompetent and its’ members are unqualified to be involved in the DDA. In fact the Oakland Press article stated that the Village Council is considering overhauling the entire board due to reckless spending.

The current DDA board was provided a budget for 2012 /2013 that was finalized and approved by the Village Council. The current DDA board has acted within the constraints of that budget.

It was the DDA board not the Village Council that made the financial decisions to reduce spending under the current council approved budget when it became apparent that tax revenues were falling short of expectations. Unfortunately, we were too far into the fiscal year to make additional cuts. The DDA had the village council authority to spend $511,753 in 2012-13 fiscal year. It was the DDA who took it upon our selves to reduce expenditures by $77,000 to keep the budget in perspective.

To have property owners who served on the DDA board, have their own personal agendas and are looking to benefit financially, make ridiculous accusations toward this current board is totally unfair and invalid. As board members themselves they never took anywhere near the cost cutting initiatives this board has taken.

That village council members make public comments criticizing this board is completely disingenuous on their part. The council approved the budget.

If the DDA board needs to be overhauled then the Village Council should be overhauled as well.

I volunteered to serve on this DDA Board as did the other members, to assist in the improvement of the downtown business district. An improved downtown business district that consisted of successful vibrant businesses is vital not only to business owners, but Oxford homeowners as well.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is planning a major overhaul of M-24 that runs through downtown Oxford in the next two years. This is Oxford’s opportunity to piggyback with this project and interject additional improvement to the downtown with minimal cost to our community. If this opportunity gets away, then any chance to put forth additional improvements to benefit this community will be lost. This was a major focus of this current board…….Plan ahead, determine what was needed, what could we afford and where can we get the necessary funds.

I am personally disgusted with the public criticism directed toward this board. It is totally unwarranted. Instead of making the effort to work together to resolve the current problem, Village Council decided to pass the blame along and make themselves look good in the public eye with their gavel pounding decisions.

Ed Hunwick

Oxford DDA Member