|Jim Gorman has served as chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals and he has spent 5 years on the township Planning Commission. In addition, he was a board member for the Highland Downtown Development Authority for 10 years and served a decade in the U.S. Air Force. He has owned a business for 26 years in Highland Township.|
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 Gorman, 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?
GORMAN: The Highland Township budget is balanced and well managed by the Treasurer’s Office at this time, according to the township auditors. Additional millage (funding) for police services will be on the ballot for budget years 2013 and 2014 and should be passed by the voters.
The next four years will see economic recovery of the tax base and must be carefully managed.
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?
GORMAN: Highland Township is blessed with many lakes and over 5,000 acres of state properties which helps influence the rural character of our township. We have areas that can be developed for light industrial and service businesses that we should be promoting in conjunction with the (Highland Downtown Development Authority) and the existing Highland business community. The master plan identifies those areas.
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.
GORMAN: I support the 0.75-mill increase as the need for public safety trumps replacing other budget sources which have been strained. This funding will reinstate two positions previously funded by the police millage. The (Oakland County Sheriff’s Department) contract should be funded as a standalone source, separate from the township budget.
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.
GORMAN: The non-motorized path will join other paths established and planed by surrounding communities and currently in use. I support this issue and will research future funding.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
GORMAN: No. 1, a stable budget with a view towards economic recovery. No. 2, prepare for the legal challenges presented in interpreting the (Michigan medical marijuana) law. Regulating medical marijuana facilities, if approved, will require new zoning. These challenges will prove to be a major issue for the township. No. 3, ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all the citizens.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponents?
GORMAN: I will assist new business coming into the township in navigation zoning requirements that may be unique to our community, i.e., voluntary ombudsmen. There would be no cost involved to the township. This effort would be used in conjunction with the (Downtown Development Authority) and existing business recruitment efforts. Also, my experience: Five years (as) chairperson, Zoning Board of Appeals; Five years (on the) Planning Commission and commercial subcommittee; 10 years (on the) Highland Downtown Development Authority (board); 10-year veteran of the United States Air Force.
My 26 years as a business owner in Highland has prepared me to make financial judgments. My experience of municipal involvement has afforded me the opportunity to understand the issues and concerns of the citizens of Highland.