|Randal Busick has served on the Milford Township Board of Trustees since 1985. He is co-owner, president and chief executive officer of Vehicle Science Corporation, an international engineering, technical, legal and legislative supplier for major automobile companies and component suppliers. He is also a past co-chairman of the Milford Historical Society Finance Committee, a founding supporter and sponsor of the Huron River Clean-up and founding supporter and contributor to Milford Memories.|
Six candidates — Randal Busick, Kevin Lawrence, William E. Mazzara, Anthony Raimondo, Dale R. Wiltse, and Brien R. Worrell — are competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 Republican primary election for one of four trustee spots on the Milford Township Board of Trustees. Since there are no Democrats running in the primary election for a trustee position, the top four vote-getters will earn a four-year term on the township board that pays $150 per meeting.
The following are questions we recently posed to Busick, 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?
BUSICK: The bankruptcy of one of Milford’s largest tax–paying entities (General Motors) puts Milford Township under significant budget pressure. We must work to deliver essential services without additional taxes. One way is to use non-tax revenue enhancements, such as shared services and insurance cost recovery. Insurance company reimbursements can offset some emergency response costs. The Milford Fire Department has the capability to be the principal provider basic sife support EMS runs and transport services. Milford Fire Department makes more than 1,000 fire/EMS runs each year. Conducting insurance cost recovery for transport will recover a significant amount of money to reduce township tax burden at no taxpayer expense. We have already significantly trimmed our expenditures and eliminated two departments. All expenditures are on the table. Nothing should be categorically protected from the budgetary axe.
TAX ABATEMENTS: A few years ago the township board rejected a request from a business seeking to extend an existing nine-year tax abatement for another three years, creating a 12-year abatement. The request was nixed due to the township’s own fiscal challenges and uncertainty at that time. With property values at or near the bottom of the trough, when would you be comfortable granting new or extending any existing tax abatement agreements?
BUSICK: First, you balance the budget. It is unfair to give special-deal tax breaks only to a government-favored few. We should uniformly reduce the tax burden for all. Special-deal tax breaks are an uneven and unfair burden on existing residents and businesses. They are compelled to pay higher taxes while the government redistributes tax revenue for an entitled few. As a business person, I know that this is not a sound or equitable business practice. Government should not be dictating winners and losers. I have opposed this unreasonable practice for many years. Milford’s continuous high credit rating and clean audits show the benefit of tight budgetary and revenue controls. Milford Township has balanced its budget every year that I’ve been on the board with no budgetary tricks, no smoke or mirrors.
A UNIFIED MILFORD: The idea of somehow merging Milford Township and Milford Village is an issue that crops up every few years. If you’re opposed to any kind of merger, please justify maintaining two separate municipalities given the level of consolidation and shared services already in place and the potential for saving taxpayer dollars through a complete consolidation. If you are open to a merger, state whether you prefer merging under the city form of local government, or dissolving the village and making it part of the township.
BUSICK: We should look at any method to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Our big budget items are police services, fire services and EMS. The township shares these (and other) services with the village to reduce costs for everyone. But I am not in favor of bigger government. Combining village and township government does not reduce the total workload. So far, I see no intrinsic savings by expanding the size of local government through combining the village and township. I think that government is better when it is nearer, smaller, more accessible, cheaper. I believe that village residents do not want the village to be dissolved and absorbed into the township. Conversely, township residents do not want to become part of a city with its greater taxing power.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
BUSICK: No. 1: Revenue base: The bankruptcy of one of our largest tax–paying entities puts Milford Township under significant budget pressure. We must work to deliver essential services without additional taxes. We need to encourage small businesses, local businesses, and start-ups. The nature of business in Michigan has radically changed in recent years. We can no longer solely depend upon revenues from major corporations and big businesses to sustain Milford Township’s operations. More and more, people work from home rather than commuting to work. Recognizing this, we updated our definition of permitted home business activity allowing new businesses to start up without overbearing government interference.
No. 2: Developer challenges to our zoning: A faltering residential development has spawned a flurry of lawsuits, unpaid obligations, and broken promises to the township. The developer has challenged our zoning ordinance and is pushing costs onto the citizens of Milford Township. We cannot allow real estate speculators to create costs for the residents of Milford by gambling to overthrow our zoning map. I will stand up to out-of-control developers. I will emphasize orderly and controlled growth, maximizing homeowner value, maintaining the rural character of the township and adherence to the Zoning Master Plan.
No. 3: Cost Recovery: Insurance company reimbursements can offset some emergency response costs. The Milford Fire Department has the capability to be the principal provider of basic life support EMS runs and transport services. The Milford Fire Department makes more than 1,000 fire/EMS runs each year — some are reimbursable by insurers. Conducting insurance cost recovery for BLS transport will recover a significant amount of money to reduce township tax burden at no taxpayer expense. In a significant number of cases, transport by the Milford Fire Department results in faster EMS response time and more efficient hospital transport service.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
BUSICK: As the most experienced Milford Township trustee, I was on the board during the previous economic downturn in the 1990s. This gives me experience to help deal with the current economic challenges and have Milford Township continue to live within its resources. This proven approach results in Milford performing above its peer communities in preservation of property values, avoiding a massive impact on school funding. My experience on the Planning Commission and Environmental Protection Agency helps me realize the importance of quality of life and senior citizen issues. Our new Zoning Master Plan will guide the township into the future and stand up against out-of-control development pressures.