Incumbent Republican Greg Baroni is being challenged by Democrat Michael D. Smith in the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election for the White Lake Township supervisor position. The township supervisor serves a four-year term and is currently paid $ annually.
The following are questions our staff recently posed to the candidates, and their responses to those questions.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township at this time, and how do you propose to address them?
WHY YOU? Why, specifically, should voters choose you over your opponent?
TOP ISSUES: 1. Balanced Budget. White Lake Township has had a balanced budget for many years. I am committed to maintaining it. One of the township’s largest revenue streams, property taxes, has declined. Drastic cuts could be made in the quality of life provided to residents if the townships lack funds. Some of these areas are public safety, $6.5 million/year, public works; $2.2 million/year; and municipal administration, $2 million/year. Township employees are cost-conscious with 2013 department budget submissions achieving an 18 percent savings overall. I have negotiated three new union contracts with no raises in my tenure. Our fund balance has risen from 45 percent in 2007 to 71 percent in 2011 giving us the capability to cope with unexpected issues in either revenue or expenditure streams. Currently, we’re finalizing a balanced budget for 2013.
2. Quality of life for the residents of White Lake Township. It is my responsibility as the supervisor of White Lake Township to provide quality of life for every resident. White Lake Township has maintained its own Police and Fire Departments for over 50 years. Several years ago the residents of White Lake Township voted to maintain our police and fire departments.
Our residents and visitors enjoy several recreational opportunities with 21 lakes, two state parks, a metropark, golf courses, two new baseball fields, and in the near future a nature preserve park currently known as Bloomer Park. The township adorns a fabulous array of shopping and dining.
I am committed to maintaining our White Lake identity while implementing new technology for a more efficient government.
3. Sewer fund. We are currently facing a $1.5 million dollar shortfall in the township’s sewer fund. We have enough money in the fund to cover our expenditures through the end of 2012. The Township incurred a deficit of approximately $785, 257 over the years which was paid for out of the Improvement Revolving Fund and the Sewer Debt Fund. Neither of the funds has been paid back. There was another $385,257 that was spent for construction overruns that was taken from loan payments. Then another $161,858 was borrowed from the township General Fund to pay for the interest and principal.
We will be facing some very tough decisions in the next few months to get this situation back on track. We have several options we are currently looking at for a resolution.
WHY YOU? I am currently the supervisor of White Lake Township. I have a strong passion to remain serving my community and the residents. Public service and active community participation has always been part of who I am. In the last 21 months of my appointment, I have provided a balanced budget for 2012, negotiated and ratified three union contracts (police, fire and general township employees), implemented an award-winning Information Technology contract with Waterford Township, implemented an ordinance to ban K2/Spice from local stores, and created the “Helping Hands Food Drive” supporting the Good Fellows Christmas Basket Program. I have the proper skill set and ability to make the right decisions that balance the services needed for our residents and the experience, serving as both trustee and supervisor, and working with our surrounding townships.
MICHAEL D. SMITH
TOP ISSUES: Community development. In order to respond to development issues we need to focus on:
• Balancing new development, redevelopment, safe waterways and parks;
• Creating incentives to attract new businesses; and
• Protecting small business owners and promoting entrepreneurship.
Fiscal responsibility. In order to be fiscally responsible we need to focus on:
• Addressing the Sewer Debt Funding issues;
• Enforcing better energy initiatives to be more “green;”
• Implementing cost-saving policies and forecasting for multi-year budgets; and
• Researching grant funding and implementing “best practices” for sharing services.
Transparency. In order to be more transparent we need to focus on:
• Assessing residents needs and allowing more citizen involvement;
• Creating board packets for easier public viewing of all documents; and
• Recording meetings and utilizing social media outlets for greater accessibility.
WHY YOU? I am a lifelong resident of White Lake and I have dedicated my life to public service. I am a graduate of Walled Lake Schools and currently I am serving as an elected Walled Lake School Board member. I received my bachelors in leadership studies from Grand Valley State University and my master’s in public administration and a post-master certificate in local government management from Oakland University. I have worked for Oakland County and currently I work for the city of Clawson. Through these experiences I have been involved in budgeting, planning, forecasting, website design, legislative mandates, negotiations, human resource functions, creating e-packets and agendas, grant research, and other administrative duties that make me the best candidate. For more information check out my Facebook page — Michael D. Smith for White Lake Township Supervisor.
Greg Baroni has served as the White Lake Township supervisor for nearly two years, and previously served as a township trustee. He has 34 years of managerial experience at General Motors, was the past president of the White Lake Historical Society and is the current township liaison to that organization. He is also president of the Huron Valley Optimist Club Board of Directors, a board member of Commerce United Methodist Church, and co-creator of White Lake Community Garden.
Michael D. Smith is the deputy city clerk for the city of Clawson. He has served on the Walled Lake Schools Board of Education since 2010, and was elected as a precinct delegate in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Smith is a member of the Oakland County Clerks Association, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, and the Michigan Association of Michigan Clerks.