Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 18, 2013

Candidate Warren: More cops on streets, in schools

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

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Commission candidate Jan Warren wants to see more police on the streets, in the neighborhoods and even the elementary schools.

Warren will contend with six other candidates Nov. 5 for three, four-year city commission seats. Warren wants to hire more police officers and reestablish the neighborhood sector and school liaison positions for the city’s elementary schools.

“Its a good opportunity for students to meet officers and not be afraid of them and there is an issue with safety in schools,” Warren said.

Warren would not raise taxes to finance the added staff but draw on the city’s excess fund balance.

Warren will wait for a study on consolidating city fire service with the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department but admits to being “very biased” toward the city keeping its own fire department.

“I’ll look at (the study) very carefully, but I want to make sure we don’t have a reduction in response time or quality of service,” Warren said.

Citizen complaints about festivals at the Open Space will immediately confront the new commission in November. Warren said the problem isn’t too many festivals but how the city controls them. The city needs to address noise and trash issues as well as raise fees it would need to staff the festivals and provide the city income.

“Perhaps if some income was realized that could enhance city services it might be more palatable for the residents who are complaining about it,” Warren said.

The National Cherry Festival enjoys great local support and is an economic driver for the community and region. Warren, a former festival president, said she would need more information on how the event adversely effects city residents before voting to limit it.

Warren supports past commission efforts to shift almost $1.25 million from city services to street and infrastructure improvements. She would like to see more money dedicated to sidewalk construction and said as a planning commissioner there’s been some frustration about not building more sidewalks because of funding issues.

Warren plans to vote yes on the county road commission millage which would return $750,000 to the city for street improvements. The extra money would help the city accelerate its road rebuilding program and free up additional money for more sidewalks and traffic slowing measures, she said.

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.

Warren would reset the capture to zero but would extend the tax increment financing district to begin capturing taxes again “in case some fabulous opportunity came along” that would benefit city residents.