It was a tough year.
They all agree — 2011 wasn’t easy. But it’s over. They made it through. Here’s to a new year.
“I’m looking forward to 2012,” said Southfield City Councilman Myron Frasier. “2012 is also going to be pretty tough, but I really think we have a council that’s going to make the right decisions to keep our heads above water.”
There are still many challenges on the horizon.
“We’re concerned about what the state is doing and may do to us — some of the cuts they may want to make,” said City Council President Joan Seymour. “Personal property tax — we don’t know where that’s going. That’s a big concern to cities. The economy is looking much, much better; the employment figures are getting better. I don’t think it’s going to be a rapid recovery, but I feel very confident that we’re starting to come out of this.”
In the last year, residential and commercial property values continued to decrease.
“Less money was coming in,” Frasier said. “But thanks to Jim Scharret, our city administrator — he’s almost a wizard with how to move dollars around to continue with the high quality services. But at some point in time, even a wizard runs out of tricks.”
Frasier sees the city seeking out cooperative ventures in the coming year.
“I think there’s some opportunities that we need to explore of cooperating with other communities and other government units that fall in the governor’s bag of ‘If you want state-shared revenue, this is how you’re going to have to operate,’” Frasier said. “Although we already have many cooperative efforts, I think we can still have some other ones that we can develop over 2012. I think there’s a way to consolidate some efforts to take some pressures off some local governments to give better service. … If we find these cooperative ventures, it may give us more wiggle room to do other stuff.”
A big focus in 2012 and beyond needs to be repairing the city’s infrastructure, Frasier continued.
“Our infrastructure is in pretty bad shape,” he said. “Evergreen Road needs to be fixed. We’re going to rebuild the bridge on Beech between Eight Mile and Nine Mile Road, that’s coming up next year. We need to pay attention to our infrastructure to make sure that’s not falling apart.”
Jeremy Moss, the city’s youngest-ever city councilman at 24, who received the most votes in the November election, is looking forward to getting his feet wet.
“I’m excited to get deeply involved in the process,” Moss said. “I’m excited to learn, I’m excited to ask questions — why are things the way they are, why is this the way we operated? Bringing a fresh pair of eyes to everything we do I think will help the city move forward. I’m excited to be a voice for my generation at the table. The challenges are clear. It’s how do we maintain a city in a dwindling economy? How do we attract not only businesses to want to move here, but how do we attract residents to want to come back? Attracting young families to be the next generation of Southfielders and enacting good plans to figure out a way to make our diverse housing stock attractive for anyone wanting to relocate to Southfield — it’s definitely going to be on our minds in 2012.”
Rochelle Freeman, business development manager for the city of Southfield, is hard at work on the business end of things.
“We’ve been meeting with companies as part of our business retention strategy, and we’ve heard some very encouraging discussions regarding new hiring and new investment in the city of Southfield,” Freeman said. “A lot of IT companies are moving into the city and expanding and growing, and we’re really pleased about that, and we’re really encouraged for the new year.”
Seymour said she’s confident Southfield is going to be just fine.
“I know we’ll all be working really hard to make sure that we keep improving,” she said. “Everybody’s got fiscal challenges in this state, there’s no question about it. I’m optimistic.”