|Rick Hamill is the owner of Paradise Designs, a custom landscaping and home design/build firm, as well as Vintage Travel Trailer Restoration Co. He is the current facilities manager for the Highland Township Public Library and serves as the Design Committee chairman for the Highland Downtown Development Authority. He is a graduate of Oakland University and Western Michigan University.|
Donna Gundle-Krieg, Rick Hamill, Catherine Kristian, Lynn O’Brien and Arthur Van Brook will compete in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary election for the Republican nomination for Highland Township supervisor. The winner will face the Democratic Party’s nominee in the Nov. 6 general election. The Highland Township supervisor serves a four-year term and currently earns $65,691 annually.
The following are questions our staff recently posed to Hamill and his response to those questions.
LEADERSHIP: As supervisor, at what point do you believe you should disregard public sentiment, and cast a vote on an item based on your own knowledge and feelings about how an issue impacts the greater community?
HAMILL: Assuming overwhelming public sentiment on an issue, I would cast an opposing vote when it is a matter of the health, welfare or safety of the greater community. I will be working for the community and will respect its wishes and needs.
BUDGET: All municipal governments in Michigan have faced difficult budget scenarios over the past few years, as declines in property values have produced a revenue stream that can’t keep up with various rising costs. 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?
HAMILL: I have reviewed Highland’s budget for the last three years and the ax has already been heavily applied. We have been chopping ourselves into a hole. As a business owner, I have always had to find new sources of revenue. Government should follow the same principles.
What I haven’t seen in Highland in years is an aggressive attempt to bring in new and alternative sources of revenue. It requires seriously hard work and effort to secure additional resources and I will make it a top priority to see that it happens. No stone will be left unturned and the efforts of all township board members, employees and commissions will be maximized to accomplish this initiative. We need to work harder to grow Highland, not “budget” it to zero.
DEVELOPMENT: Some in the community are striving to preserve the township’s rural character while others are yearning for more business development in Highland. Is there a way that Highland can maintain its rural ethos while attracting new business and development? If so, how? If not, why not?
HAMILL: There certainly is a way to maintain our rural ethos and attract new business. The master plan in Highland is a footprint that a “model” must be built on to attract new rural style businesses.
As supervisor, in conjunction with the Downtown Development Authority, I will seek new investors in the community by targeting prospective business owners that fit our rural look and feel.
Highland has a supply of currently vacant storefronts and properties that need entrepreneurs to fill them. If we do not actively seek and promote new businesses then we will continue on a downward spiral in property values and population in our community. With my help as supervisor, we can build an award-winning business mix that keeps our small town atmosphere.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Highland voters are being asked to authorize a two-year, 0.75-mill increase in local property taxes to continue providing for police services in the township, with the increased revenue generated in the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) District being disbursed to the DDA. Please explain why you do or don’t support the ballot question.
HAMILL: I support the ballot issue. In conversations with many Highland residents, it is apparent that public safety is on their minds and this ballot issue allows them to express their opinion as to where they stand on the need for additional police services. I believe the voters are better suited to make this decision than to leave it up to a board of seven.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
HAMILL: No. 1, the decline in property values that must be reversed. No. 2, to encourage local business to locate here and prosper by having the township as a partner in growth rather than an adversary, which will help overall property values. No. 3, to prudently manage township finances for the best possible use of tax dollars.
The simplest technique to solving these problems is to get out of the box and lead. Attract new investors and residents by invitation. Broadcast to surrounding communities through action that we are on the move and intend to be the community that everyone else lives near.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
HAMILL: As a design/build business owner for 31 years, I have a solid background in personnel management, facilities management, finance and budgeting, community planning and design, construction and engineering, contracts and bidding, customer relations and marketing (the skill set a township supervisor should possess). I have the “toolbox” fully stocked and ready to work.
I’m running because my heart and dreams are my guide. I have lived in Highland for 48 years and intend to finish here. I love this place and want to be a guiding force in making “community” No. 1 on all our minds. It takes awesome people, great businesses and government to be a community and I am the leader Highland needs to make it happen.