Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

October 16, 2013

City Commission candidate Bergman: City now in better shape

TRAVERSE CITY — Jody Bergman hopes voters find Traverse City better today than eight years ago when she joined the city commission.

Bergman, the commission’s longest-serving member, will face off Nov. 5 against six others for three, four-year terms. Bergman said she has no agenda other than to leave the town better off than when she started.

“The problem is you can only see small increments when the city is pretty good to start with,” she said.

Bergman agrees with residents who found July and August festival use of the Open Space “a little overboard” but doesn’t believe the city has too many events. She supports better spacing and action to address nuisance issues. She won’t support commission action to dictate any changes to the National Cherry Festival.

“I think we’ve seen good things from (the Cherry Festival) the last few years,” Bergman said. “It’s a premier festival and a lot of places look to it as a model. so I’d hate to shoot it in the foot.”

Bergman sits on the committee in talks with Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department regarding a possible consolidation. Supporters contend Metro could provide equal or better service that city firefighters at a lower price.

Bergman supported meeting with Metro so the city could decide consolidation, but said she hasn’t seen indications that Metro will make a proposal she’ll back.

“I will not support any cut in service and I will not support any additional costs to our residents, and I wouldn’t support hiring Metro on a contract basis,” she said.

Increased funding for road improvements in recent years occurred in part because some city jobs weren’t filled. Bergman said commissioners have done a good job balancing services with the need for improved infrastructure.

“I’m not saying I wouldn’t beef something up if we had more resources,” Bergman said. “Both the fire department and police department are at bare bones and if we had the resources I would add there first.”

Bergman won’t support a proposed county road millage that would provide about $750,000 a year to the city for street improvements.

“If it does pass and we get the $750,000 I would like to see that much go into our roads program,” 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.

Bergman opposes letting the tax increment financing district, known as TIF 2, expire because it can’t be re-established.

She supports either resetting the amount captured by TIF 2 to zero or voting each year to return the money until the city identifies a needed improvement project in the downtown.

“It’s a tool in the tool box I don’t want to let go of,” she said.

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