Town hall meeting held on city’s financial crisis

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published July 20, 2011

HARPER WOODS — Even though tensions have run high in Harper Woods for some time now, the city’s recent town hall meeting was quiet and cordial.

City Manager James Leidlein presented information on the city’s current financial situation and how the city is tackling the future. Residents asked questions and offered their own ideas for helping the city dig out of its financial sinkhole.

The meeting was held June 29 at City Hall and lasted for more than an hour.

“I want to thank you for your politeness,” Leidlein said to the crowd at the end of the meeting.

Mayor Ken Poynter spoke at the end of the meeting, saying that he felt it was productive, with good suggestions coming from the residents. He asked that everyone work together to solve the city’s problems.

“We have that nice … small-town atmosphere here,” Poynter said. “That’s something that we cannot lose. We have to think in terms of what’s best for the entire city. This is a great place to live.”

Some of the discussion focused on ways to work with other communities to consolidate services, ways to increase revenue such as grant opportunities, the ambulance shortage in the Fire Department and the problems the city faces in the future.

“There’s been predictions that property values are going to (continue) declining for another two years,” Mayor Pro Tem John Szymanski said.

One resident mentioned that a nearby municipality had a city-wide open house for vacant homes that the Realtors participated in so that people could come and look at homes in the city. That was suggested as a possibility to get people looking at purchasing a home in the city. Leidlein said he would look into that.

The need for all employees to make concessions was mentioned as a way to make ends meet, as well.

School Board Trustee Brian Selburn said that the city should look into doing what the school district recently did by putting a survey online to help the city determine how the residents rate their priorities.

“I think that maybe the city needs some guidance from the community,” Selburn said.