|David Lewsley was appointed to the White Lake Township Board of Trustees in 2011 and is a trial/supervising attorney at Lewsley & Ferro and staff counsel for Amerisure Insurance Co, where he represents the company’s policy holders in litigated claims. A former corporate manager of workers’ compensation at Chrysler, he is the township board liaison to the Parks and Recreation Committee and a member of the White Lake Historical Society. He also served on the White Lake Township Planning Commission from 1997 until 2011.|
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 Lewsley, 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?
LEWSLEY: There are no township budget sacred cows. Annual expenditures were trimmed by over $700,000 between 2008 and 2010 to keep spending in line with revenue without adversely affecting the delivery of services to residents.
In 2011, pay freezes were negotiated with the unions representing township employees, health insurance plans were revamped to contain costs, and staff positions were eliminated through attrition. Substantial upgrade of the township’s information technology (IT) was cost-effectively achieved through an inter-governmental agreement with Waterford. IT improvements will increase employee productivity.
Excluding technology capital outlays, the 2012 General Fund budget is $239,000 less than 2011′s. Constitutional revenue sharing began rising in 2011 and the downward trend in property tax collections has slowed, so the need for further deep budget cuts, (in the) near term, is not anticipated.
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.
LEWSLEY: I am open-minded concerning some consolidation of public safety millages. However, there are compelling arguments against adoption of a single levy.
A single millage would “put all our eggs in one basket,” possibly resulting in a request so large voters might refuse to approve it — especially if an increase is sought. Rejection could be disastrous and put public safety at risk.
It makes sense to have separate consolidated operating millages for police and fire so voters can decide how much to fund the two distinct departments.
Also, when voters approve special millages for a dedicated purpose (e.g., the 2004 fire millage to hire full-time firefighters and purchase equipment), they should decide whether renewal is warranted.
I strongly support approval of all the public safety millages on Aug. 7.
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?
LEWSLEY: Planned business growth is important to create jobs and generate property tax revenue. By focusing business development along the M-59 corridor, White Lake can enjoy the benefits of becoming a regional commercial center while preserving the quiet and natural beauty of the remainder of the community.
New development should include “big boxes,” research and office parks, mixed-use projects and replacing outdated buildings. The township’s recently updated zoning ordinance requires developers to meet high standards for building and landscape design.
Developers drawn to M-59 must be convinced to choose White Lake over adjoining townships. A cooperative Community Planning Department and clearzoning — a 24/7 on-line program with extensive zoning and ordinance information — should provide an edge.
A corridor improvement authority isn’t currently feasible because of fallen property tax collections.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
LEWSLEY: Voters must be informed that to maintain the Fire Department at currently budgeted levels, they must pass the 0.5-mill fire millage increase, in addition to the police and fire millage renewals on the Aug. 7 ballot.
New GASB accounting standards governing post-employment health benefits must be addressed because a huge liability will soon begin appearing on the township’s financial statements and it must start making substantial annual contributions to fund future retiree health benefits.
Voters should be encouraged to pass the 0.3-mill Parks and Recreation millage renewal so progress can be made toward the objectives of having a pathway adjoin each of the township’s major roads and improving our parks.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
LEWSLEY: Familiarity with White Lake Township and its governance acquired during 14 years on the Planning Commission and more than a year as a trustee, taken in combination with 30-plus years of experience as an attorney and an executive in the auto and insurance industries, gives me the knowledge and practical insight to make an important and meaningful contribution to township board deliberations.