Ten candidates — Mary Pat Chynoweth, Charles Dittmar, Jim Gorman, Brenda Granroth, Brian Howe, Bob Husic, Joe Jozwiak, Beth Lewis, Raymond P. Polidori and Russ Tierney — are competing for one of four trustee positions on the Highland Township Board of Trustees in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 Republican primary election. Since no Democrats filed to run for a trustee position on the township board, the top four vote-getters will each earn a four-year term that pays a base annual salary of $5,531.
The following are questions we posed to Husic, and his responses to those questions.
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?
HUSIC: The economy has the appearance of improving, so the township budget needs to be examined to determine what funds could be used to reinstate deferred programs and services. Essential services, such as (public) safety, need to be held harmless as this is the key to ensuring an attractive community for both businesses and homeowners. The township needs to be more vigilant in finding alternate fund-raising and grant opportunities to support future projects and supplement the budget.
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?
HUSIC: All communities rely on local businesses to sell goods and services to raise funds to supplement the local services. Developing strategies to draw smaller, locally owned businesses to a developed downtown area (is key) — a downtown area that is inviting, open and accessible by all means of transportation, but limited to pedestrians in the immediate business area.
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.
HUSIC: I support bringing our community services back up to previous levels of staffing. A secure community is more attractive to new residents and business owners. The current millage request will begin to bring the community police coverage back to pre-2008 levels.
PATHWAYS: The township is considering a master plan for future non-motorized paths in the community, after about a year of work. Please state why you do or don’t believe embarking on future path projects should be a priority in the township.
HUSIC: I believe the township should support the non-motorized pathway project. (It) should work with the DDA and develop a plan to support the efforts of Milford, White Lake and others to create a connected system to allow the community to navigate our parks and business districts without the use of a motor vehicle.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
HUSIC: The top issue I see is the continued declining property values, resulting in a lower tax base. Developing a business climate that is both attractive and prosperous will help inject the local economy and help raise the… value of all our property.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponents?
HUSIC: My interest in this position is (based on) community development, not political positioning. I enjoy working with the community leaders on the common goal of fiscal responsibility and community growth. I bring a moderately conservative view that enables me to consider cost avoidance while seeking new projects to enhance our community. I stress honesty and integrity while maintaining a focus on community.