Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 18, 2013

Candidate Werner: Show me hard data, then I'll make decision

By BRIAN McGILLIVARY bmcgillivary@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Commission candidate Tim Werner wants to see hard data, not anecdotal stories before taking a position on city issues like adding police or joining the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department.

Werner will contend with six other candidates on Nov. 5 for three, four-year city commission seats. Werner said city services are adequate and he isn’t swayed by those calling to hire more police officers.

“I talk to a lot of people who would like to have (police officers) back, but a lot of that is anecdotal or emotional,” Werner said. “I’d want to see it thought out and well reasoned.”

He also supports a consolidation study for the city to join Metro Fire, an “emotional issue” for residents that makes it difficult to take a clean look at it, he said. Consolidation cannot reduce “the chances for survival in a statistically meaningful way” to make it worthy of consideration, he said.

“Politically I think it’s unlikely any consolidation could move forward unless there are very clear results indicating a benefit,” Werner said.

New commissioners will immediately address new policies in response to complaints about the number and type of festivals at the Open Space.

Werner doesn’t believe there are too many festivals but that point is coming. He proposes to reduce requests by raising the fee the city charges for festivals. The fee should cover city costs plus a small premium he would dedicate to park improvement.

Some residents and candidates have called for downsizing the National Cherry Festival but Werner says its not too big. He said the festival brings much to the city and residents should be thankful. But it’s a good discussion to have on a regular basis, he said.

“I don’t think we should have any sacred cows,” he said.

During the past six years city commissions have increased funding for road improvements from $100,000 to more than $1.25 million.

Werner said he supports the road funding but wants more done for sidewalks and trees, which often are ignored during street projects.

Werner will not support the county road millage proposal because county road officials have not made a strong enough case to raise taxes. Should the millage pass he says the commission should revisit the city’s infrastructure plan and determine how to integrate the additional $750,000 the millage will earn for the city.

Elected commissioners will decide in 2016 if they will return about $400,000 in city property taxes captured by the Downtown Development Authority to the city general fund, along with $450,000 collected from other taxing entities including Grand Traverse County.

Werner doesn’t want to give up the tax increment financing district for nothing. He proposes using it as leverage to get Grand Traverse County to the table to discuss added police services for the city.