|David J. Kramer has served on the Waterford Township Board of Trustees for the past four years. He is a retired assessor for Independence Township, where he was employed for 22 years. He has served as president of the Watkins Lake Owners Association, and a member of the Watkins Lake Improvement Board.|
David Kramer is among five Democrats running in the Aug. 7 primary election for seats on the Waterford Township Board of Trustees. The four Democrats with the highest vote total will advance to compete against four Republicans in the Nov. 6 general election to fill four trustee positions. Township trustees serve four-year terms and are currently paid $10,976 annually.
The following are questions we posed to Kramer, and his responses to those questions.
BUDGET: Years of revenue decline prompting by falling home values and other reasons have forced a variety of budget cuts. What changes in township budgeting priorities or processes do you advocate to deal with these hurdles? Where could the township’s budget be trimmed back? What, if anything, in the budget should be held harmless from the budget ax?
KRAMER: The most important issue facing Waterford Township is finding money to maintain our current level of services for the citizens of the township. Great strides have already been taken to address this issue, but with the loss of income to the township from all sources, especially loss of tax dollars and state shared revenue, the challenge is greater than ever. Changes could be made in the amount retirees pay for co-pays, and frankly the alternative to transfer local police and fire dispatch to (Oakland County Sheriff’s Department) dispatch would save the township over $500,000 in the first year alone. While the latter is unpopular with some citizens, so are additional taxes which may come before the voters in the form of a millage proposal in November. Excess assets such as totally unused police vehicles should be sold to get the capital back on our books and to eliminate unnecessary maintenance and insurance costs. Employee conferences should be limited to mandated attendance only, say for continuing education points, and employees attending could share rooms instead of each having his/her own room.
POLICE/FIRE DISPATCH: Some on the township board have come forward with a proposal to contract with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department for police and fire dispatch services as a way to save money. Explain why you do or don’t support the proposal.
KRAMER: I support the proposal to transfer police and fire dispatch to the county as it will save over $1.5 million over the next three years. All but one Waterford dispatch employee will likely be hired by the county, and the current dispatchers will still be addressing the needs of Waterford citizens. There is no loss of efficiency, and in fact, 911 calls from Pontiac for fire services actually go through the county dispatch prior to transfer to Waterford dispatch for appropriate response.
EMERGENCY FINANCIAL MANAGER: Some people have speculated that the township will be forced to come under the authority of an emergency financial manager (EFM) within the next two years. Please state why you do or don’t agree that such speculation has merit.
KRAMER: I find it unlikely that Waterford will come under an emergency manager because the township is and has been very involved in providing and participating in shared services with nearby communities. Two examples are fire services for Pontiac and IT (Information Technology) services for White Lake. There are a plethora of other shared services provided by Waterford, so we are very much in keeping with the governor’s EVIP (Economic Vitality Incentive Program) plan. If Waterford comes under an EM, there will be many other communities also affected. So who then represents the citizens of a given community? Personally, I am opposed to the governor’s plan as it robs citizens of their vote for conscientious elected citizens who participate in local government. Aside from a few exceptions, the state should not be meddling in local government.
WASTE COLLECTION: Waterford currently has a waste collection system under which each individual resident and business is left to secure their own trash collection service, but it’s been proposed that the township change that by carving up the community into waste collection districts and soliciting bids from haulers to serve those districts. How, if at all, should the township’s current waste collection system be changed, and why?
KRAMER: There are a number of reasons waste collection in Waterford needs to be addressed: Too many trucks/operators in any given neighborhood; danger to pedestrians, kids and pets; too much exhaust, too large of a carbon footprint; too many days garbage is sitting by the side of roads (blight, and holidays exacerbate this problem); too much wear on our roads; and as it is, it is an environmental disaster.
In my neighborhood, where there are four garbage haulers presently, I did a survey of neighbors and almost all were willing to go with one company — as long as it was their company. Apparently residents become quite attached to their service provider. This could be addressed by first ensuring, through the code of ordinances, that all residential garbage haulers are providing the same service, including full recycling and yard waste disposal. Neighboring townships have gone with single haulers for the entire community, thus causing a real blow to garbage hauling businesses that were operating in their respective townships. However, districting is an option that respects the competition of the free enterprise system and still eliminates as much as possible the problems identified above. People complain about the condition of our roads with good reason; why are we not doing something about it?
SUMMIT PLACE: Essentially vacant and an eyesore, the Summit Place Mall has been the subject of a number of proposals for redevelopment. However, there has yet to be a large-scale redevelopment proposal to come to fruition? What is your vision for the future of the Summit Place Mall site? What would you do, if anything, as a township trustee to ensure that vision becomes reality?
KRAMER: Summit Place is pulling Waterford down, like a black hole sucking everything in and leaving us with a wasting community all around it. in the last few years it has been vacated by all businesses and most of the stores in strip centers around it, as well. Retail is dead for the Summit Place unless one business developer comes in with a great deal of money and basically makes it a “new” facility. Major chains are following the population growth and, there, the money, mostly toward White Lake Township. Waterford Township and Oakland County Economic Development could and should be working together to find a solution; the latter should have a sincere interest in reversing the loss of surrounding businesses and the general degradation of the area, both commercial and residential. I suggested to the president of OCC (Oakland Community College) that they consider it for a campus. I’ve heard suggestions for it to be used as a casino as it is centrally located in Oakland County with major thoroughfares nearby. If nothing is being done, nothing will be accomplished. The economic life of Waterford Township needs this problem solved.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
KRAMER: The most important issue facing Waterford Township is finding money to maintain our current level of services for the citizens of the township. Great strides have been taken to address this issue, but with the loss of income to the township from all sources, the challenge is greater than ever.
Commercial operators need to see Waterford as an opportunity to do business. Development of business enterprise will have a positive effect on all aspects of life here. The blight along Telegraph needs to be addressed and the problems conquered. The vacant mall is having a negative effect on the surrounding areas.
Greater emphasis on environmental issues is of major concern. Sorted recycling of plastic cans, and paper outside of businesses, i.e. three different colored bins, as other communities do throughout the world, and in public places, should be encouraged. Instead of businesses throwing everything in the dumpster they, too, would be required to sort and recycle. Reduction of unnecessary and (duplicative) truck traffic that is hard on our roads and spews volumes of engine waste into our environment.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
KRAMER: As an incumbent I have learned to some degree how Waterford Township operates. That is invaluable as it takes a long time to discover the dynamics at play here. Further my understanding of local government through my service as an assessor in a neighboring community for 21 years provides a great deal of experience and insight into what is needed, what takes place, and protection of citizen rights. Some examples are the loss of Waterford citizens’ rights through the medical marijuana ordinance passed by the township board (I dissented), and the near approval of a disastrous special assessment district on Crescent Lake which I prevented. I believe in bring a logical and conscientious approach to the business of Waterford Township government. I ask questions and challenge the merits of proposals brought before the board. I always respect and have the best interests of the citizens in mind when making decisions.