My annual "State of the Village" column came out in our Wolverine Lake winter newsletter in this week's Spinal Column newspaper.
Here it is for those of you who didn't catch it there:
State of the Village 2017
John Magee, Village President
Welcome to 2017, everybody! Hard though it is to believe, I am now entering my second decade as your Village President. It’s been quite a decade. When I was first elected as Village President we were beset with deep budget problems. A once-healthy fund balance had been nearly exhausted. We were on pace to run out of money altogether in another 18 months.
Turning our finances around despite the continued cuts in state revenue sharing and the real estate collapse didn’t come easily. We made painful staff cuts in the Police Department, the DPW, and our front office. We deferred many needed improvements in our village’s infrastructure. And we asked all of you to pay for your trash pickup because even with those cuts we could no longer cover the cost of trash pickup within the general budget.
I am happy to say that as we enter my 11th budget cycle as your President the village is in its strongest financial shape ever. We have a strong fund balance and an especially strong bond rating for a municipality of our small size. I would like to take a moment to thank our Village Treasurer Mike Kondek, who came on board during those dark times. His vision, guidance, and long-term planning keeps our financial course clear.
We’ve faced many other challenges, successes, and setbacks together over the last ten years. What I’ve found most amazing on that path has been the commitment of all of my fellow residents to make Wolverine Lake the best place it can be. When I first ran for Council my motto was, “This is a great place to live, and I aim to keep it that way.” The only thing I would change ten years later is to say, “This is a great place to live, and we all aim to make it even better.”
What now as we enter 2017? We expect to continue making Wolverine Lake a better place to live.
Congratulations are due to our new Village Administrator Nathan Burd on a very successful first year in office. Nathan has proven himself to be a strong leader and administrator. I want to thank him for choosing to join us.
Our Police Department is working to become one of the first departments in the area to be a fully certified department through the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. This certification will assure all of us who live here that our department meets the highest professional standards. This certification should also help us to reduce our insurance costs. Our DPW continues to work around the village to improve our streets, pathways, and parks. Our Water Management Board continues to improve its public outreach efforts and to improve our plans for lake maintenance this summer.
There’s much afoot for our parks this year. We expect to build out Amenia Park on the south side of the village this Spring, making it a true neighborhood asset. We are working on a new master plan for Clara Miller Park. As part of that plan we are working with local soccer and baseball organizations to improve our playing fields. We also expect to improve our playground equipment and to make improvements that will make our park more accessible for all of our village’s children. And we continue to look for ways to keep improving our pathway system. Safer pathways for walkers and bikers makes for a safer village.
I’ve used the words “we” and “our” a lot in this message. This is because it is our village and it takes all of us to make it work. If you’ve ever thought about getting involved – whether it’s through serving on a board or a commission or simply volunteering for a park event – this is the time. Please contact the village office to see how you can be a part of it.
And finally, thank you. I want to thank all of you – residents, employees, volunteers, consultants, and everybody who has attended even one Tiki Night celebration or Tuesday in the Park event – who have made serving as your president for the last ten years such a pleasure. Few people are lucky enough to get such an opportunity, and I’ve tried my best for the last ten years to live up to the standard that all of you set.
Thank you for that.