Successes touted in State of the Township address

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 9, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

That was a frequently repeated phrase spoken by Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn during her State of the Township address Feb. 5 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.

Dunn gave an approximately 25-minute speech to an audience filled with township and county officials. She discussed the past year of the township, and highlighted several stories that exemplified its success.

Dunn began her speech by citing a census report that showed the township as having the largest population gain in the state at 2.19 percent.

She cited the township’s low tax rate, school districts, parks and recreational opportunities, golf courses, and roadside farm stands as just a few of the reasons for the growth.

“We are the center of everything in this township,” Dunn said.

Dunn summarized 2015 in chronological fashion while providing a story from just about every month.

For January through March, she highlighted the township’s Fire Department. Dunn referenced a Jan. 14 Board of Trustees meeting in which 26 firefighters were presented with lifesaving awards. Dunn also commented on three firefighters who retired on Feb. 11 with a combined service of 132 years.

“That will never be duplicated due to a change in the law for mandatory retirement change,” Dunn said. “Talk about dedication to your community. It will never be better than that.”

In early March, 16 members from the Fire Department climbed 1,035 stairs inside the Renaissance Center in Detroit to raise funds for the American Lung Association.

Dunn also told a story of how Fire Chief Bob Phillips placed a Macomb Township patch on the wall of a restaurant near ground zero of the World Trade Center in New York City while on a trip to receive a new fire truck for the township.

Dunn proceeded to discuss the perfect financial rating score that the township received from SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) on March 23. The township was the only community in Macomb County to receive a perfect rating.

In a ranking of public safety, Dunn commented on the township’s second-place rank of the safest cities in Michigan with populations greater than 50,000 residents. The ranking, which was released Sept. 8, gave the top spot to Rochester Hills.

“It was noted that the two safest cities contracted with their sheriff department for policing — what a concept,” Dunn said.

Dunn added that the ranking showed Macomb and Rochester Hills as also having the lowest police costs on a per capita basis. She also discussed the addition of two sheriff’s deputies and one dispatcher to the township. Those contracts took effect at the start of this year.

In education, Dunn gave remarks on the Clinton-Macomb Public Library’s involvement in the White House ConnectEd Challenge starting this past April. The CMPL was one of 30 libraries nationwide picked to attempt to get every student in its service area a library card.

Dunn also discussed the service of township residents, including the efforts of a 7-year-old boy who helps provide food for the homeless in Detroit and Chesterfield Township. She also commented on how the Run the Plank event raised $42,000 for charities last year.

Dunn closed her remarks by introducing a speaker from Belfor, which was named the township’s featured business of the year. Belfor, a property restoration business, has 120 locations nationally, and Macomb is its eighth location in Michigan. Belfor opened its Macomb location Dec. 17 near 21 Mile and Fairchild.

Several county and state leaders also provided brief remarks during the event. State Reps. Ken Goike and Anthony Forlini spoke prior to Dunn, who was followed by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and County Commissioners Joe Sabatini and Fred Miller.

Hackel touched on the appointment of Derek Miller to the county treasurer post, as well as the new baseball stadium in Utica and investments of local automotive companies as reasons for Macomb County’s turnaround.

“There’s an incredible resurgence of energy in Macomb. We don’t have the sad stories you’re seeing around the state, and that’s a good thing,” Hackel said. “We have a great story to tell.”

Sabatini built on Hackel’s remarks of the county’s financial situation by noting that its bond rating is currently AA+. As it pertains to the township, Sabatini said a radio tower related to the December passage of a countywide radio enhancement project will be located at 23 Mile and Romeo Plank.

He added that the county board has approved $6.5 million in road funding for the township, which he said is roughly 20 percent of its road fund budget.

Miller closed the event by discussing a possible millage renewal and enhancement for the county’s Veterans Affairs Department. He said the current proposal would be to raise the rate from 0.04 mills to 0.069 mills to support the efforts of the department, which currently receives 98 percent of its $1.5 million annual funding from the millage.

Miller said the department brought back $7.5 million into the county by way of benefits for veterans in 2014, and about $5 million in 2015. The millage was approved by voters in 2008 and renewed in 2012.

“Both of the previous times, voters in Macomb County recognized how important this is and supported it overwhelmingly,” Miller said. “I, for one, will be wholeheartedly supporting that millage.”

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