|Carol J. Burkard was elected as a township trustee in 2008 following an two four-year terms from 2000 to 2008 as township clerk and a four-year term as township trustee from 1996 to 2000. She first started in public service at the White Lake Township Library.|
Ten candidates — Todd T. Birkle, Carol J. Burkard, Mark S. DeGroff, Randy J. Hebert, Rik Kowall, David Lewsley, Patti Page, Michael C. Powell, Scott Ruggles and Andrea C. Voorheis — are competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 Republican primary election for four trustee positions on the White Lake Township Board of Trustees. Since no Democrats are running, the top four vote-getters in the primary election will earn four-year terms that pay $681.25 per month.
The following are questions we posed to Burkard, and her 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?
BURKARD: There were difficult decisions and some staff had to be cut. Some were offered early retirement packages, others were cross-trained to help fill those vacancies. Technical work was shared with a Neighboring township, (both of) which won a consolidation award. Employees and officials have not received any cost of living increases (or increases) in salaries, (and) new hires’ benefits have changed.
I believe there could still be some belt tightening where overtime seems excessive for non-essential services. We never want to cut back on essential services. With that said, I am a strong believer in volunteering for events that promote a township or help out an organization. These events should be volunteered (for) and not paid for out of overtime.
PUBLIC SAFETY MILLAGES: For years there has been discussion at the township board level about consolidating the township’s various millages for police and fire services into one levy. Tell us why you do or don’t support that idea. Please state why you do or don’t support the public safety millages appearing on the primary election ballot.
BURKARD: I am open to “Public Safety” coming under one umbrella. The voters are tired of so many different millage choices every time they go to the voting booth. This would streamline that quite a bit. With that said, I do believe that particular question should be answered by the public at the voting booth, with all the facts on the table the pros and cons.
I do support all the renewals, except the third Fire Department millage asking voters for increase of 0.5 mills for 10 years. With the department having $7.1 million from 2004 millage monies still left unspent for new equipment or other uses the board would deem expectable, I would first like to see some belt tightening in non-essential overtime.
DEVELOPMENT: White Lake has seen a boom in development in recent years, with everything from small businesses to “big box” stores opening up, particularly along M-59. Is there a point when there is “too much” development in White Lake? As supervisor, what, if anything, would you do to attract new businesses to White Lake? When will it be appropriate, if ever, to revisit the corridor improvement authority concept in the township?
BURKARD: There’s always a point when there could be too much development. That’s why we have a strong master plan that gets updated every few years. We have been careful to attract good development with strict rules. Our zoning plan ensures that we keep an eye on the future and are mindful to have careful managed growth. Only 50 percent of White Lake Township’s land can be developed because the rest is state land, wetlands, or lakes. We have been doing good planning. That is why we are attractive to good development. Continue working with Economic Development to see who wants to invest in Oakland County. I personally read (a Metro Detroit business publication) each week to check out who may want to locate in this area. I am for revisiting the Corridor Improvement Authority.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
BURKARD: I always put safety, health and welfare issues as my first priority. These three encompass many aspects of our township, including clean water, the environment, police and fire (services) and whatever comes under these three categories. (I’m) always asking myself not to compromise these issues.
The issue of continuing to have a balanced budget (is important), tightening belts when spending your money and (I’m) always mindful that I am making decisions I feel you would want.
Finally, managed growth. With 26 lakes in 36 square miles, suburban farms zoning on the north end and the southern section with it’s large subdivisions and condo living, two state parks, one Metropark and four township parks, we need to manage growth that fits our unique character and continue working on connecting pathways between destinations.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
BURKARD: I have been a public servant in White Lake for 23 years, starting at the library in 1989. (I was) elected township trustee in 1996, township clerk (2000 to 2008) and trustee 2008 to present.
As trustee, I have enjoyed representing the people of White Lake Township and feel my experience and knowledge of both past and present issues will be important when deciding future decisions. My years at the library doing reference, always looking for answers, has helped me in my position on the board.
I know where to get the answers, where the wheel may have already been invented, (am) always checking other townships to see if they have a unique way of handling a situations (and I) also (view) Michigan Township Association as a partner for answers. I hope to remain “the people’s partner.”