|Ric Mueller has spent 10 years as a township Planning Commission member and 7 years as chairman of the Friends of the Milford Skate Park Group. A graduate of Michigan State University, he has owned his own business and been a consultant/facilitator for 30 years.|
Mike Glagola, Don Green, Jeff Lewis and Ric Mueller are competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 Republican primary election for Milford Township supervisor. Since there are no Democrats running, the winner of the primary election will earn a four-year term that pays $71,623 annually.
The following are questions our staff recently posed to Mueller and his response to those questions.
LEADERSHIP: As supervisor, at what point do you believe you should disregard public sentiment, and cast a vote on an item based on your own knowledge and feelings about how an issue impacts the greater community?
MUELLER: My style of leadership is collaborative. Milford needs a leader who will facilitate the discussion among the many stakeholders in the entire community on common goals; a leader who will bring transparency of government to its residents; and a leader who will promote teamwork, measure progress toward goals and celebrate successes.
It is the responsibility of all board members to understand and act in accordance with the wishes of the people they represent, without preference and objectively, while acting to protect the interests of that community. The supervisor should never make unilateral decisions, but rather work to ensure the activities of the board fulfill the aforementioned objectives.
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?
MUELLER: I will first assess then act in accordance to the responsibility given me by the constituency to manage. There are vendors under contract with the township to provide services. Assessing contracts will determine the most cost effective way to spend taxpayer’s money. It’s prudent to review all contracts on a regular basis. My consulting experience is based on creating processes that improve fiscal responsibility.
(As an example,) the township considering the Fire Department’s transportation of basic life support patients has three potential advantages: Speed of response, added revenue supporting department services with no significant risk, and improved service to residents. The township should continue its investigation and make its decision based on what proves best for the community and its residents. Maintaining the health, safety and welfare of residents is priority No. 1.
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?
MUELLER: Communication with local businesses can be improved. The perception is that no one is listening or asking for their input. Open, objective discussion of issues will lead to positive collaboration and effective solutions. I am always in favor of examining the possibility of all options to reduce stress to our communities businesses. However, the state government is currently looking at the elimination or reduction of business personal property taxes, which will have profound impacts on the revenue of local communities. We need to carefully discuss, as a community, what level of service we want and how it can best be funded. Hopefully, as property values stabilize and the state reveals its taxation plans, less uncertainty will yield more options for abatement and effective tax reductions.
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.
MUELLER: I am for any collaboration that enhances the services and vitality of the Milford community. I believe we can work together, craft effective solutions to issues we face and reach whatever objectives we set. This is an issue the entire community should discuss, not one that a single individual or small group of individuals should discuss behind closed doors. It’s time for residents of Milford to come together, create a vision of Milford and develop a strategic plan, as one Milford or two, with goals to accomplish this vision. With this collaboration of community stakeholders, there will be greater transparency of government, teamwork, progress toward common goals and many successful results.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
MUELLER: No. 1, ensure that Milford adapts to changing economic times. Be fiscally responsible, promote and maintain Milford’s qualities that attract core-businesses and residents of all ages. I will engage the entire community to enhance the Milford experience and maintain fiscal responsibility.
No. 2, provide greater transparency of government for its residents. Facilitate collaboration toward common goals and transparency of government and be accessible through all communication channels to keep Milford’s stakeholders engaged and informed.
No. 3, facilitate the collaboration of Milford’s stakeholders to develop common goals. Milford is good, but why settle for good when great is possible? Economic circumstances are fluid and many municipalities are failing to adapt. It’s time for Milford to come together, create a vision for Milford’s future and develop strategic plans with distinct goals and related metrics to accomplish this vision.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
MUELLER: I am not motivated by political gain. I simply believe in the place I raised my family and call home. Milford deserves leadership that values every voice in the community being heard. I have the education and business experience to lead, and a heart to do it well. Colleen Schwartz, retired Milford Township Clerk, with 33 years of service recently said in an endorsement; “I agree with Ric’s goals of making government easy and accessible to keep Milford the desirable place to live, work and enjoy. He has the skills and ability to facilitate Milford stakeholders in collaborating toward common goals. I support his strong desire to bring greater transparency to Milford government for all Milford residents. I feel these leadership qualities are exactly what Milford needs at this time.”