Gladstone commissioner responds to letter
“Last night I read Mr. DeClaire’s letter to the Daily Press. When he questioned my character, judgement, and motives, I decided to respond.
I decided to run for the two-year term balance on the Gladstone City Commission last November because I finally have time to give back to a city that I have enjoyed living in for over 40 years. I want to help Gladstone be an even better place to live and grow.
My assets to the city are my MBA education and over 40 years of running several successful small businesses. I understand income statements, balance sheets, revenue, expenses, and the importance of good employees.
I have been on the city commission now for seven months. I have been through the budget process, toured the city facilities, talked to the department managers, and attended many of the committee meetings. These are the observations I have made:
The City of Gladstone was trying to run with only 13.5 mills. That’s one of the lowest in the state.
In 2013, the total Gladstone property tax millage for homesteads of 39.4 mills was the third lowest of all the cities in the Upper Peninsula. That figure includes school, county, state, college, road patrol, DATA bus, 911 dispatch, and the city millages. Other cities were as high as 54.4 mills.
Revenue to the city has been reduced by lower state revenue sharing and a slightly lower tax base.
City expenses have been reduced. Our largest expense is employees, and the full time number has been reduced from over 50 to the current 37. Department heads are doing their best to cover the slack, and have become frustrated and weary. It has even affected the health of several.
Our main fire truck badly needs replacing. We need another Public Safety officer to cover shifts 24/7. Our Public Works building is a shelter that was closed 30 years ago, and worn out. Our newest plow truck is now 18 years old. And, our aging city hall needs more improvements to be functional.
The additional 1.8 mills will cost the average tax payer in Gladstone a modest $72 a year or $6 a month. That’s based on the average market value in Gladstone of $80,000 a home with a tax base of $40,000. If we don’t have a full Public Safety Department and up to date fire fighting equipment, our insurance rating in Gladstone will go down, premiums will probably go up much more than $72 a year.
Taking all these facts into consideration, I felt that my responsibility to the people of Gladstone as an elected commissioner was to take action now and pass the additional 1.8 mills to start working on these much needed projects.
I too share the concern that this extra money be used for these projects. That’s why I have asked these projects to be prioritized and put on the agenda of our next commission meeting. I hope that we can begin immediately and the resulting monthly payments will insure that this money is used as intended.
I am proud to be a citizen of Gladstone, and will continue to act in the best interest of all the people.”