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December 27, 2012

Local leaders outline wishes, challenges for the new year

By Robin Ruehlen and Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writers

As 2012 draws to a close, local officials took the time to reflect on the past year, as well as what they are wishing for their neighbors and communities in the upcoming months. 

In Beverly Hills, Village Council President Tim Mercer said he was thankful for an economy that continued to strengthen in 2012, as well as rebounding home values in Beverly Hills.

“I also thank the residents of Beverly Hills for all the support this past year.  For 2013, I hope for continued economic and job growth for our region and state, and I wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy new year,” he said.

Township Clerk Jan Roncelli noted that in 2012, she was grateful for the serenity of living in Bloomfield Township, as well as “the revival, even if slight, of the housing market in our community.”

In Franklin, Village Administrator Amy Sullivan said she’s relieved that the fiscal crisis the community experienced in 2012 is a thing of the past, thanks to two millage increases voters approved earlier in the year. The move, she says, made it possible to “provide enough revenue for base minimum services.” Her hope for 2013 is that Franklin can leave its financial woes behind and, as Sullivan said, “begin to thrive instead of just survive.”

For Birmingham City Manager Robert Bruner, it’s hard to pick a single issue that topped his priority list in 2012. Instead, he says he has a “Top 10” list, which includes implementing liquor licensing changes, continuing the Multimodal Transportation Master Plan and the public safety/police dispatch consolidation with Beverly Hills.

“Several of the things on the list were started in 2012 and will continue in 2013, perhaps chief among them is the Multimodal Transportation Plan,” said Bruner, explaining that the community will have more input as the plan continues to adopt a transportation plan in the city, based on the idea that streets should be accessible to all legal users, from motorists and bus-riders to bicyclists and pedestrians.

“We have some public meetings scheduled in 2013, and the plan will be finalized in 2013. That’s a big one,” he said.

He added that, in the coming year, the city will be making a lot of changes at Greenwood Cemetery, including an increase in the cost of burials and other services.

“The City Commission approved some of the policy changes and the fee changes that were recommended. They approved the contract amendment with the consultant so now he can help us with (a request for proposal) and bring up a firm that can help us with adding new spaces to the cemetery,” said Bruner. “There’s a lot of interest, and a lot of people who would like some space at Greenwood.”

Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie said in a statement that, while 2012 was a year of much progress for the township, there is still plenty to accomplish in 2013.

“Road replacement will be a major issue for the foreseeable future. We will be partnering with the Road Commission of Oakland County (RCOC) to repave subdivision roads through a Special Assessment District process,” Savoie said in a statement.

“Many parts of our water and sewer system are also antiquated and need replacement, either now or in the foreseeable future.”

Savoie added that, while becoming a customer of SOCWA “brought savings to all of us,” eventually becoming a member of SOCWA is the township’s ultimate goal.

“Membership would allow us to receive an even greater savings on the cost of water. This will take ongoing work and negotiation,” he said.

“Bloomfield Township has pursued every possible opportunity over the past several years to share services with neighboring municipalities. The right arrangements have the potential to improve services and either limit expenses or increase revenues. We will continue to seek any type of partnership that can be mutually beneficial.”

Savoie said he looks forward to the challenges ahead, citing the outstanding township employees and management team.

“They are all problem-solvers and take care of situations before situations become real problems,” he said.

“They live what I believe: Be a leader. Be a thinker. Do what is right.”

As for Bloomfield Hills, the new year will no doubt bring plenty to do for Mayor Sarah McClure, including a beautification initiative and other endeavors. But, for now, the mayor is taking a moment to bid farewell to 2012 and wish residents a prosperous 2013.

“The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with friends and family and reconnect and enjoy memories of past times. The new year is also a time of reflection of what we wish for in our future, not only for those close to us, but also the communities in which we live,” said McClure in an email. “I hope this year brings peace and happiness to all those that live within our Birmingham Bloomfield area.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.