|Kyle McGrath has worked as a social studies teacher at Huron Valley Milford High School since 2006. He has also been a teacher in the Berkley and Birmingham school districts and the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills. McGrath has also worked as an inventory analyst with The Nailco Group, and as a policy advisor in the Michigan House of Representatives Majority Policy Office.|
Kyle McGrath is among eight Republicans running in the Aug. 7 primary election for seats on the Waterford Township Board of Trustees. The four Republicans with the highest vote total will advance to compete against four Democrats 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 McGrath, and his responses to those questions.
BUDGET: Years of revenue decline prompted 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?
McGRATH: As Waterford Township Trustee, I will continue efforts to streamline bureaucracy and consolidate bureaus and centers. Efforts must be made to proactively address and lower the exposure to the township of the rapidly rising health care and pension costs with regards to both current and retired employees — this is one of the fastest growing expenditures in the budget and any responsible platform must address this issue. But I will always fight to support recreational services, water and lake quality, and senior services because residents need these now more than ever.
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.
McGRATH: Township trustees who held office in prior years must be held accountable for poor planning for the future of Waterford. The fund balance was drawn down, officials were slow to react to the economic downturn, reductions to staff were tardy, health care and pension commitments were not addressed, and few efforts were made to implement innovative reforms — and now our township faces difficult decisions. The township should continue to discuss consolidation of the police/fire dispatch center.
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.
McGRATH: Pension and retiree health care funds have not been fully funded in over a decade and efforts made by past township officials to correct for this large and looming issue have been unsuccessful. If the township continues these sorts of budget practices without making tough decisions and hard choices, then it is possible that at some point in the future an emergency financial manager will be forced to take over. This is avoidable and thankfully voters can choose to avoid this option in the coming election by choosing the right leadership for the township.
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?
McGRATH: Many residents of the township are happy with the current choices for waste collection and recycling and recognize that competition between services works to keep prices in check. Right now the township already has trouble managing its finances and services without adding another service, and should focus on getting its budget in order and avoiding bankruptcy. Likely some on the township board want to take over waste collection services so that at a later point the township can use waste collection to generate revenue by charging higher fees and lowering service. Residents should not pay higher fees to government just so that township officials can try to avoid making tough choices on the budget.
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?
McGRATH: Commercial areas in Waterford must be redeveloped and office complexes must be encouraged, and not just for the Summit Place Mall. Over the last several years few businesses have moved into Waterford and prime areas such as that near the airport have not been developed. The township board should encourage more economic development by working to lower regulations, cutting bureaucratic red tape, working with business owners, and managing the budget so that long-term stability is assured for the township of Waterford.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
McGRATH: As a Waterford Township Trustee, I will streamline bureaucracy and encourage more public-private partnerships and community-sharing — residents and government and businesses working together will assure a bright future for the township. I will also tackle budget issues such as the consolidation of the police/fire dispatch, unfunded liabilities, and pension and health care costs. But it is important to note that he will always push to make sure that the township continues its tradition of quality recreational services, sparkling water and lakes quality, and vital senior services that residents need now more than ever.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
McGRATH: I will be an outstanding township trustee for Waterford Township. I have the government experience, educational background, work ethic, and right values to serve the people of Waterford. Unlike others who are running to protect the establishment or because they think it will be fun to be a board member, I was encouraged to run for this position by other community members because they feel I would be a great fit on the board. I have already been endorsed by state Sen. Mike Kowall, state Rep. Eileen Kowall, County Commissioner John Scott, County Commissioner Christine Long, (former) Congressional-nominee Rocky Raczkowski, and many more.