Budget message: A Conservative Approach Yields Large Returns

Every four years, the Meridian Township voters are faced with Township Board elections. With the draft budget before the current board next Tuesday, I want to take this moment to acknowledge some of the major fiscal accomplishments that have benefited the residents of Meridian Township.

The current Township Board has worked collectively to respond rapidly to two major storms (December 21, 2013 and July 8, 2016), ongoing management of the Chronic Wasting Disease and increasing the general fund balance by $1,300,000. Maintaining unparalleled public safety has been the hallmark of this Board. Since 2012, the Board allocated funds to purchase all new turnout gear for the fire department and body worn cameras for the police department. Additionally, they responded to the call for school safety with improvements on Kinawa Drive near Chippewa Middle School.

Thanks to the voters in Meridian Township the new Central Fire Station opened on February 1, 2016. Plans are in place this year for each of the three fire stations to be equipped with an ambulance. The safety of our residents is of utmost importance.

Our park system is well known throughout the region and state as the model to reach for. We salute the outstanding relationship between our voters, the Park Commission and the Township Board. Over the past 4 years, the Meridian Township parks system has reached new heights. With the improvements to Brattin Woods Park, Central Park, Ferguson Park, Hartrick Park, Hillbrook Park, Nancy Moore Park, North Meridian Road Park, Newton Road Park, Orlando Park, Wonch Park, and the Harris Nature Center and Meridian Historical Village; Meridian Township Parks have become a destination for visitors.

With the exception of the Central Fire Station, all of this was accomplished with no tax increases and no additional debt burden for our taxpayers.

We have our ongoing challenges; however, at every turn we stepped up to the plate and worked as a group to provide first-rate customer service and an overwhelmingly compassionate response during our two major storms. The governing body found a way to commit a $1,000,000 in additional funding to the MERS pension fund and increased local road funding by $100,000 per year. Addressing increased pensions will be continued challenge facing us in the years ahead.

The 2017 draft budget is being presented before the Township Board on September 6. The Township Board should be acknowledged and thanked for their passion, loyalty and exemplary public service to the community these past four years. The public is invited and welcomed to attend the Township Board Budget Meeting on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. Read the recommended 2017 budget proposal available online.

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Pardon our Dust: Township Improvements

premier dance

Today, we welcome another new business to the Township, Premier Dance Company in Haslett who is hosting a grand opening tonight. We’re happy to be a community of choice for businesses and we’re happy to see these openings as a sign of the economy going up and thriving in Meridian Township. We appreciate the investments new and long-time established businesses have made in redeveloping sites that were vacant, signing new lease agreements where space was once vacant, as well as upgrading and renovating existing sites. Continue reading “Pardon our Dust: Township Improvements”

Building a Solid Foundation Behind Every Municipal Project

Building a Solid Foundation Behind Every Municipal Project

As I enter my 30th year in municipal service and look forward to the projects Meridian is on track to complete this year, I tend to reflect on the numerous people I’ve worked with and the long lasting relationships that have been built over the years.

Former Township Manager, Engineering Director Ray Severy and myself at Rays Retirement Party.
Former Township Manager Jerry Richards, Engineering Director Ray Severy and myself at Rays Retirement Party. We’ve built a great bond.

It’s the relationships I’ve made that stand out above everything else. Collectively working on projects not only contributes to a sense of pride and community placemaking, but I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to build long lasting relationships from those projects. Building community spirit far outweighs the projects themselves. When we work together and build together, the gain is significant. Right now, in Meridian, we are doing just that with the Okemos Road Redevelopment Project, the New Central Fire Station, and the new Pedestrian Pathway Bridge over the Red Cedar connecting the community together.

I treasure what is to come in Meridian and the relational opportunities while serving here.

When I think about my former days, so many relationships stand out to me like working with former Jackson City Manager Bill Buchanan who gave me an opportunity to learn, listen and grow from my mistakes. While Bill and I have both moved on in our careers, our relationship has remained steadfast. Recently, Bill invited me to his retirement in Kansas from his position as Sedgwick County Manager. It touched my heart that he remembers our time together.

I also think about the early 90’s when I served as City Manager in Cedar Springs where my family formed a lifelong friendship with former Mayor Linda Hunt. Today, we keep in touch through Facebook, but it seems like yesterday when she attended the most important day of my life; my wedding on January 2, 1993. In 2012, I was honored to be asked to help Cedar Springs find a new city manager.

While in St. Joseph for 17 years, many valuable projects were completed. But it is the relationships, not the bricks and mortar, which added to a solid foundation for my career, and one in which I cherish as I build new relationships in Meridian Township.

As my family and I attend graduation open houses and weddings this summer, it is the relationships newly formed and long lasting that are a testament to the true foundation behind the projects for each of the communities I’ve served and am currently serving in Meridian. We have so many wonderful projects in Meridian, and I look forward to continuing to build more relationships on top of the ones that have already begun. I want to thank the hospitality the Meridian Team received while in St. Joseph during our annual team building; Laurie Moore, Bonnie Lewis, Christopher Heugel, Ken Kaszubowski and Carla Sykora, Janet and Phil Dykstra, Chris Cook, Mayor Mike Garey, Lisa Czanko Bartoszek, Retired President of Whirlpool Bill Marohn, Director of Global Communications for Whirlpool Corporate Headquarters, Jeff Noel and last but not least, St. Joseph Today Executive Director, Jill Stone.

group shot in st. joe
Connecting relationships together at the Meridian Team Leader Building Day in St. Joe. These are my current leaders in Meridian building together.