Oakland County officials state goals for municipalities in 2021

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published January 13, 2021

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OAKLAND COUNTY — It’s fair to say that 2020 was a year many people would like to move on from, and with the arrival of a new year comes new goals and ambitions.

C & G Newspapers reached out to representatives from the governing bodies of Ferndale, Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge to ask them what goals they would like their cities to achieve in 2021.

Ferndale Councilwoman Kat Bruner James is hoping the city can implement its affordable housing policy that was passed last year. The policy aims to provide more diverse housing types and address seniors, renters and the economically vulnerable.

“The policy that we passed was more of a comprehensive policy, not something that necessarily (immediately) shifted rental or housing rates throughout the city,” James said when asked how the city will implement the policy. “It’s something that sort of gets implemented with new development, or one of the aspects of the policy gives us the ability in the future to establish an affordable housing fund, and the policy intention has been set, but we still need to take steps to allocate funds, acquire them, segregate them and have specific investments that those funds will go towards.”

James also said she wants Ferndale to stay vigilant in its commitment to antiracism, which dovetails with everything the city wants to accomplish.

Berkley Mayor Pro Tem Bridget Dean stated in an email that, given the impact of COVID-19 on families, businesses and city finances, she wants to find ways to maintain the “high quality services that our residents count on.”

“In these uncertain times, we must be ready for any emergency. As a member of the Emergency Operations Plan team, I continue to work with Councilmembers (Jack) Blanchard and (Ross) Gavin updating our plan to meet any emergency that arises,” she said of other goals she had for the year. “In the months ahead, we’re focusing on measures that protect our community against cyber attacks, COVID-19 and other dangers that might arise.”

In addition to those plans, Dean hoped to offer opportunities for recreation to residents of all ages within the current guidelines for social distancing.

Huntington Woods Mayor Bob Paul said the implementation of the city’s antiracism plan, which was passed by the City Commission last year, is the No. 1 priority on the city’s radar now.

He also said the city will work on road maintenance in 2021, as residents moved to increase the amount of money that could be spent on maintaining roads last March. Voters approved a millage that funded a police and firefighter pension, and funds that were previously earmarked for those pensions will be going toward road improvements.

“We already have some road replacement in the budget and in the planning for last summer,” he said. “This is really the first year a lot of the new maintenance dollars are being spent. We’re increasing the amount of money we spend on repairs and maintenance from $100,000 up to $350,000 a year. It’s a pretty significant increase. So we’re working through that and how that’s all going to work out.”

Pleasant Ridge City Commissioner Christopher Budnik said the city’s biggest item in its scope this year is to replace lead water service lines. He estimated that lead lines cover 60% of the city.

“(This) is gonna be a huge, even long, arduous undertaking,” he said. “It’s something that needs to be done, and we kind of dipped our toe in the water (last) year doing a few. … I think that’s going to be item No. 1 in my mind at this point.”

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