The seven Democrats for Livingston County Commission laid out an agenda for the county Monday (August 16, 2010) built around the framework of "Smart Leadership, Smart Growth."
The philosophy is simple -- leadership that is transparent, inclusive, and proactive will give us growth that stresses the local economy first, has a vision for the future that addresses transportation needs, and that enhances the quality of life for all citizens.
The candidates -- Thomas Bell of Oceola Township for District 2; Dane Morris of Hartland Township for District 3; Dave Berry of Conway Township for District 5; Keith Tianen of Putnam Township for District 6; Kelly Raskauskas of Genoa Township for District 7; Amir Baghdadchi of Hamburg Township for Distirct 8, and Barry McBride of Green Oak Township for District 9 -- spent nearly all of the news conference laying out proposals for meeting the county's transportation needs, attracting jobs, and protecting veterans. (David Berry was called out of town at the last minute and could not attend.)
The commissioner candiates' platform called for stopping the multi-million-dollar bailout of the money-losing Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Livingston County. The facility has lost $4.7 million over the last decade and has received $2.7 million in public funds instead of being expected to at least break even. Money spent at the airport, the candidates argued, could have been used for improving roads, or meeting other needs.
The candidates also called for more attention to county roads, 41 percent of which have been rated in "poor" condition by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.
And they urged the county commisison to at least study the proposed WALLY commuter rail line between Howell and Ann Arbor -- a project supported by chambers of commerce in Brighton and Howell, as well as by the city of Howell and Hamburg Township.
The candidates also questioned why the part-time commissioners, who receive salaries from $15,325 a year, should also received perks such as health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and a pension for part-time work. They vowed to end the excessive perks for part-time work.
They also called for:
--Greater transparency on the part of the commission.
--A promise by the county commission not to back any more bonds for speculative real estate developments. The county commission has discussed a bailout from the state because developers have failed to pay assessments for infrastructure in real estate developments built in many townships in recent years.
--Making the county more welcoming to business with a one-stop shop for new businesses starting up in Livingston County, a county website that welcomes business, more emphasis on local business, including helping them link up with each other.
--An active parks and recreation commission that would develop hundreds of acres of land given to the county for park use but never developed, but instead has been rented out to private interests and posted with no-trespassing signs.
--A promise to continue levying the small millage for veterans relief, a levy that costs the owner of a $300,000 house a maximum of $7 a year. The levy, required by an 1899 state law, was not levied by the county commission for years and it only reluctantly agreed to do so when county veterans pointed it out to them.
It's a complete agenda -- and it shows where the current bunch has fallen short.