SHARE

More than a dozen res­i­dents and city offi­cials gathered in Handmade Sand­wiches and Bev­erages on Thursday to meet the can­di­dates running for posi­tions in city gov­ernment.

Those running for mayor and city council shared what they hope to accom­plish for the City of Hillsdale if elected Nov. 7. The re-occurring theme of Thursday’s dis­cussion was eco­nomic devel­opment — how to expand and improve on what the city has already achieved.

“Great strides are being made within the city,” said Mayor Scott Ses­sions, who is running for re-election. “I want to see the city keep on pros­pering. We need to keep on building on the direction we’re going.”

Ses­sions said he wants to focus on regen­er­ating Hillsdale, and he sees taking advantage of federal grants as one way to do this.

“Take all the oppor­tu­nities you can get, and use them,” Ses­sions said. “And right now that means getting all the grants you can.”

His opponent, Coun­cilman Adam Stockford, said eco­nomic devel­opment is a top pri­ority of his, as well, in addition to public safety.

Stockford said to expand eco­nomic devel­opment, the city must focus on the rela­tionship between the work­force and busi­nesses. Hillsdale lacks an able work­force, and there aren’t enough busi­nesses to employ a sub­stantial one, he said. Expanding edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­nities is a solution to this problem, Stockford said.

The drug “epi­demic” is another serious threat to Hillsdale, Stockford said. He said as mayor, he would work with the police and private insti­tu­tions, like the hos­pital, to crack down on drug usage.

“I think we have all the pieces to the puzzle,” Stockford said. “We just need someone to put them together.”

Ray Briner, who is running for Ward 4’s city council seat, which is cur­rently held by Patrick Flannery, said the city gov­ernment needs to figure out how to attract busi­nesses to Hillsdale. He rec­om­mended improving the city’s infra­structure to do so.

“We all need to step up and play a part in this,” Briner said. “We can all help figure out how to attract busi­nesses to Hillsdale.”

His opponent, Penny Swan, said the best way to attract busi­nesses is to reduce gov­ernment reg­u­la­tions, which she said hamper eco­nomic devel­opment. Swan said she also wants to see the city reduce its spending.

“We need to think before we make more rules and spend more money,” she said. “We need to watch the bottom line a little more.”

Swan said she also wants to establish a liaison between the com­munity and the college to address the “existing rift.”

“I want to bring a better feeling for both the cit­izens and the college,” Swan said. “Right now it seems like we are on a merry-go-round, and we need to deal with some of these issues directly.”

As the election nears, the can­di­dates said they hope to hold more events like Thursday’s so that cit­izens can get to know them and the per­tinent issues they plan to tackle.

SHARE
Previous articleWhat Trump can learn from London
Next articleBringing history to life
Kaylee McGhee
Kaylee McGhee is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in Politics with a minor in Journalism. This is her fourth year writing for the Collegian and she serves as the paper's Opinions Editor. Kaylee worked in Washington D.C. last year and wrote for the Weekly Standard. Her work has also appeared in the Detroit News and the Orange County Register. Follow her on Twitter: @KayleeDMcGhee email: kmcghee@hillsdale.edu
  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    Good story and good con­trasts between the can­di­dates.

    Ses­sions, as is occurring now, advo­cates taking all welfare the city can get regardless of the outcome “getting all the grants you can”. Stockford may(?) still want the welfare but at least is directing it at more tar­geted uses with a potential of ROI on the citizen capital.

    Briner wants to grow gov­erment and have us figure out how to fix things, Swan on the other hand wants to reduce the size and scope of gov­erment and has some spe­cific answers and sug­ges­tions.

    • Penny Swan

      More taxes and Gov­ernment is not what the City of Hillsdale needs at this time.

      • Stephen French

        How would you address funding infra­structure repairs?

        • Penny Swan

          Well Stephen as you well know being you are our City Clerk, there is not one easy answer to your question.
          It is going to take many many things to come together to get things done, and keep things up once we get things repaired.
          The current council approved a tax increase, we shall see just how much gets done with that tax increase.

          • Stephen French

            The plans show more roads are getting replaced and main­tained than what has been done in years

          • Penny Swan

            Plans are one thing, them actually getting done are another. Plans for the roads have been in the works for years and years and years. Many many studies are stored at city hall on the streets.

          • Stephen French

            The budget includes the roads that are planned for main­te­nance and improve­ments

          • Penny Swan

            Yes exactly, the new budget with a tax increase, once again we have yet to actually see streets being worked on. As I have said, we will see if that money actually goes to the streets, and streets actually get fixed. Many can talk the talk, but walking the walk is a whole new thing. As I have said there have been many times in the past things have been talked and planned on, but nothing have hap­pened.

          • Stephen French

            I think most people will be very pleas­antly sur­prised when the fiscal year starts and the road projects begin. Hope­fully the com­plaints will be more about the numerous orange barrels and detours than our typical pothole com­plaints

          • Penny Swan

            I hope you are correct Stephen. It would def­i­nitely be a nice change.

        • Ellsworth_Toohey

          City Clerk French:

          Uhhh.… I don’t know, by actually doing it maybe instead of just talking about it? Let’s sharpen our pencil here over the last year and see what money I can find you guys.

          1. Last night, over a million voted to build a apron at a airport that is a ghost town. And not needed. But hey, it was free right or at least didn’t cost the local tax­payers any­thing?

          Wrong. Your FAA enti­tlement money, which is $150K a year, is being used for this. That is money that could be used to fund main­te­nance and oper­a­tions at the local airport, yet instead that money is banked in a shell game and the airport is funded to the tune of $100K+ out of the general fund. For the time period in question, that’s 2-$300K

          2. $400K spent on the Keefer house + the lose of that from the tax­payers in property tax.

          3. About $300K in revenue per year in PILOT pay­ments from the college, if the city would put a little pressure on them like is done in Boston.

          4. Another million that the city helped 42 union get both from MEDC and in tax abate­ments. Now I can’t apply that, but I can go back a decade and look at another MEDC grant a more legit­imate city admin­is­tration got.… for a real company, Cobra motor cycle. Instead of cronyism that att­tracted a out of state company.…. at half the cost. Yearly Cobra motor­cycle throws off about $14,000 in property taxes to the city and over 40 jobs that provide living wages. For half the grant value of the coffee shop. So lets call this $30K+ a year in revenue.

          5. And many others I’ve sure I’ve missed.

          All told, in 10 minutes of scratching I’ve come up with over a million in savings. Some of which even included REJECTING grants.

          The city is the way it is because of neglect. You’re not fixing what you have. This addiction you have to grants and cronyism is destroying the town.

          • Stephen French

            I think the apron is nec­essary, 42 Union is a benefit to the city, and both the Keefer and Dawn will begin to rede­velop with the city’s lead­ership which will bring further devel­opment in the city

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Oh so you “think” a million dollar apron, that forces a new ter­minal to be built, is a necessity? So City Clerk French, what might be your qual­i­fi­ca­tions and reasons to say that? Your long expe­rience with General avi­ation? Or surely knowledge of the hangar occu­pancy at the airport? Or how many takeoff’s and landing’s occur each day?

            You lit­erally have no clue what you are talking about.

            Let me suggest to you, Clerk French, it is pie in the sky thinking like yours that causes the problems. Your love of spending taxpayer’s money on unneeded things while the cities infra­structure decays.

          • Stephen French

            I don’t under­stand why you think we should just let the airport rot. Why can’t we maintain the airport’s infra­structure like we want to do with roads, util­ities, and the like

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            YOU are the one who thinks the airport should rot!! Did you look at your main­te­nance budget?!? $7000 a year. It should be at least $25K a year but it’s not because your building junk we don’t need. You nav­i­gation aids where down half the year because you couldn’t afford to fix them.

            You really need to get an edu­cation sir, you are beyond ignorant. You could spend $25K to fix what you have, yet you’ll ignore that and build a million dollar apron that isn’t needed… and still not fix things.

          • Penny Swan

            Main­taining what we have, and building a huge ridiculous ter­minal are not one in the same. I am all for main­taining what we have, that has clearly NOT hap­pened.

          • Stephen French

            Who said any­thing about a ter­minal Penny? The vast majority of funding for the airport are funds that can only be used for the airport and will benefit everyone who uses the airport. The city is always looking for road grant funding and General Fund dollars to improve and maintain our streets

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Mr. French, you really are embar­rassing yourself. The new ter­minal was dis­cussed here on the pages of the col­legian, I think you may have even been posting until you deleted every­thing.

            Even if not, if you con­struct a new apron, 100’s of yards from the existing ter­minal, it goes to logic a new ter­minal is coming. Because of course, it is. I’ve read the AIP.

            As an actual user of air­ports, a real pilot, what ben­efits me as user is not dieing like a pilot did in 2012 at your airport, in part because the city didn’t have the funds to maintain basic avi­ation aids.… we are talkings $1000’s of dollars to do this.… vs. the Mil­lions you are freely spending on things you don’t need. And that neglect con­tinues to this day, as I said you had a safety aid out of service half of last year. Your hangars con­tinue to be a dis­grace and only half full when most air­ports have a waiting list.

            Listen, we can go back and forth but according to MDOT Hillsdale is now on their radar. What do you think that lease mod­i­fi­cation agreement was in your packet last night? You clowns at city hall might be able to fool your gullible council but alot of people have their eye on you now. Despite the money you are blowing, you *ARE* going to be running a safe airport going forward.

          • Penny Swan

            For your reading pleasure Stephen. I believe the archi­tec­tural drawings are out at the airport also.

            http://hillsdalecollegian.com/2017/03/multi-million-dollar-concept-proposed-hillsdale-municipal-airport-expansion/

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Thank you Penny.… and yeap there he was par­roting his same talking points there when some others ques­tioned the cities spending orgy.

          • Penny Swan

            The apron is to go directly to where the new ter­minal is going to be built. Please don’t play the naïve one here Stephen. I have seen the plans. I am not a stupid person Stephen.

          • Stephen French

            I’m not saying your that way, Jesus. I’m saying the plans for a new ter­minal are no where near getting funded or even approved. Christ, can’t there being any long range plans?

          • Penny Swan

            I do not appre­ciate your talking that way Stephen. We def­i­nitely need long range plans, but we also do not need a new ter­minal. As I said plans for the “New multi million dollar ter­minal” are in place and dis­played. We need to be finan­cially respon­sible and stop this idea we are a wealthy com­munity, and start watching every penny we spend and the ter­minal is not needed. The expense of keeping that thing up is not what the cit­izens of Hillsdale want or need to pay for right now.

          • Stephen French

            Who said we are financing a ter­minal, that’s all I asked. And I don’t appre­ciate being accused of the mis­man­agement and crynisms that you have been spreading, so I guess we’re even

          • Penny Swan

            When did I ever say cronyism and mis­man­agement on your part Stephen??

          • Ellsworth_Toohey
          • Penny Swan

            You are now making accu­sa­tions that you cannot back up, please clarify your point ??

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            If the new ter­minal isn’t funded,. then why build a apron 100’s of yards away from the existing ter­minal? That’s just stupid. Better, you know, to fix what you have at a fraction of the cost.

            When we built our new ter­minal and apron here in Holland, we had funding for both… because it would be stupid to build an “apron to nowhere”. We also had an actually need, with the existing apron reg­u­larly filled to capacity. Your airport is a ghost town most of the time. We also didn’t put the burden on the city alone, we had a millage and brought in some other town­ships who ben­e­fited from the airport. Did you know the majority of your local users aren’t Hillsdale res­i­dents?

            How about having a long range plan of fixing the existing infra­structure rather than building things nobody needs?

          • Penny Swan

            Using Christ name in vain, and making accu­sa­tions that you can’t prove and never hap­pened are serious issues when it comes to a city employee Stephen.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            As to 42 Union being a benefit to the City, is that the role of gov­erment spending? To benefit itself? I’m not going to come out totally against the central planning being prac­ticed however if you and your band of crony’s at city all had any clue about Key­nesian eco­nomics, they would know the goal of the central planner is to most benefit the economy.

            MEDC itself said 42 union, at an investment of $750K would general 3 full time jobs. Con­versely, in 2006 MEDC said Cobra motor­cycle, at an investment of $350K, would general 70 jobs. It only gen­erated about 40, but that was 37 more than 42 Union at half the cost. More to the point, those are jobs that can support fam­ilies. Coffee barista in a market flooded with coffee shops isn’t a very lucrative job. |

            If you and the crony’s at city hall are going to con­tinue robbing the tax­payers you need to stop handing out favors to the few and look at the long term interests of the city. That would be in lever­aging tax­payers to money to min­imize the neg­ative ROI.

          • Penny Swan

            So Stephen these things are all very “Nice” but are they “really” a necessity ?? I would also like to know how these things are going to bring money in soon? The city is asking home owners to pay more taxes with cuts in their ser­vices.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Ms. Swan to your point lets look at how Stephen entered the dialog:

            —“How would you address funding infra­structure repairs?”

            Yet all we’ve heard from him is defense of massive spending, on stuff that is not only not needed, but both reduces rev­enues to city AND increases expenses.

            Quite lit­erally he answered his own question. City admin­is­tration needs to back off the friv­olous spending, and focus on the basics. And this is the problem with hiring out of towner’s who are trying to reha­bil­itate their rep­u­ta­tions, no love for the city and it’s just about puffing up their resume. Airport expansion and Hotel devel­opment looks alot better then filled all the pot­holes on a resume.

          • Penny Swan

            Exactly. I have spoken to many many folks out on my cam­paign, and non of them were in support of these expen­di­tures when their streets are falling apart, of their taxes are going to go up.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            The airport, today, could be totally self suf­fi­cient. I’m a pilot and I love all the new shiny stuff, but unlike your city staff and manager, I also love the airport. The best way to love the airport is for it not to be a burden on the taxpayer’s.

            What has been going on is the FAA enti­tlement money, which can be used for main­te­nance and oper­a­tions, instead has been “banked” so the city admin­is­tration can claim the airport doesnt’ cost the city any­thing. But it’s a shell game if look at the budget.

            I sup­ported the runway expansion in 2006 as that did leverage business attraction. But the mil­lions spent since than? Total waste of money. What your clueless city crony’s don’t under­stand about avi­ation is it’s demand driven. You expand a airport when there is a need, you don’t expand it to create a need.

          • Penny Swan

            That is what I am trying to figure out, how all this money going out to the airport is going to bring guar­anteed money back into the city and fix our financial sit­u­ation.
            I for one, am ok with air traffic in the sky, if it brings money into the city, oth­erwise I like our quiet sky

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Well you recall what Curt Searles said at the last properly OMA’ed AAC meeting, that lets use what we can to make money instead of sometime in the future, or words to that effect.

            While I was chair of the AAC, I was told that if the city got the money for the apron a donor would front the money for the ter­minal. Essen­tially the other article says words to that effect. I actually know the name of the person and the affil­i­ation.

            This whole project is for the benefit of one entity, and it’s simply a matter of appearance, not need. From a city cashflow outlook, it’s utter madness as expenses will far outrace rev­enues, which have been extremely exag­gerated. I’ve run the numbers.

          • Penny Swan

            Exactly start making money out there, and not losing money, and then we can talk about other things out there.

          • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

            With corn­fields a plenty sur­rounding the site, there isn’t an argument for, if we don’t do it now, there will be buildings up every­where and you can’t expand. Nice problem to have, but not the issue here. Can you get all the engi­neering work done, have it all ready, when, or if a company comes along and says, but for a larger airport we’d move here. Sure, then it’s ready to go, and has a user when com­pleted. Hon­estly, hangar space is more important than ramp space if you do land a couple larger com­panies. Besides, the engi­neering work is small in com­parison, and build time­lines are known, so a company moving wants some­thing, you already know what it costs, and when it can be in place.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            All you need to do is platt the land, that’s close to free. Runway was already expanded in 2006 so as long as they can maintain what they have, it’s open for business and not a detriment to attracting new business.

          • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

            Ah yes, the keefer project that resulted in 1 pro­posal that was unac­ceptable after months of adver­tising it. I’ve still got to pass 200k worth of pot­holes named keefer before I move on to calling them dawn.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Don’t forget their TIFA spawned grand­father named Broad­street Market

          • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

            Not saying I nec­es­sarily approve of it, but at least it was an oper­ating business that was trying to expand, as opposed to two closed busi­nesses in need of serious repair with no current employees or plan. The fact that Broad­Street couldn’t inter­nally get their act together, as shown by one of the partners shutting mul­tiple busi­nesses down, is somewhat inde­pendent of the break given. Don’t have enough details to make a mean­ingful estimate if it could be viable, but if the owners were so leveraged that the loan was taking every­thing, then they didn’t have a viable business, some­thing that should have been looked at before the request was approved, so either they didn’t check, or the one partner was in bad enough shape to take every­thing down.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            History is important. Broad­street market operated for 50+ years without handouts from the gov­erment. Round about 2003 the county started to shakedown the city threat­ening to move they cour­t­house outside of the city so they with the county bought Broad­street Market’s land for $400K. When that never hap­pened (the County decided to build a million dollar ele­vator), the City/TIFA decided to buy the county’s share about 2009 and have a “RFQ” to decided who best could run Broad­street market. The existing owner lost the RFQ. This was fol­lowed by more money from the City to prop it up as well as some tax abate­ments.

            Broad­street failed less than 6 years later.

            While you could say the shutting down was inde­pendent of the break given, this was a viable suc­cessful business before gov­erment decided they could do things better, for over 50 years.

          • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

            Ah, we were referring to two com­pletely dif­ferent handouts. I was referring to the under­ground reno one. I had no idea about the first one, having a short history in town, I don’t have the back­story on a lot of things I’m sure.

            In general, I can see no valid reason for the city to take over a business and attempt to run it better. It rarely works in entertainment/sports, and it cer­tainly doesn’t in retail. I sim­i­larly see no valid point in having the city build some­thing and lease it out to someone to run it, toll roads are the big thing to build, then get a pile of money from a company that runs it, and then the locality squanders it quickly, leaving the cit­izens have to put up with the toll road for 50 – 70 years.

            I see the city doesn’t know how to call a bluff, and they seem to be resorting to smoke and mirrors to sell the latest two projects. But they aren’t very good at selling the deals. With a few calls I know how much things cost to fix, yet nobody in the city seems to take the same quick look to see what they are getting into before signing. I like the look of the keefer building, were it in good shape, it would make a fan­tastic house, but I could build a building to look exactly like it, be com­pletely modern top to bottom, for half the cost of the ren­o­vation. I’m not stupid, and I’m not so insanely rich that paying double for some­thing would be con­sidered prudent. There is no sin­gular his­torical event that makes the building intrin­si­cally valuable, in which case paying for the story is often more than paying for the physical property. If the city plan is to find a sucker to buy it, they need look only in the mirror.

            I’m glad I don’t live in the city, I can’t see it being too long before taxes are going way up. They have to, the lack of revenue gen­er­ating entities in town, and the lack of new ones heading in to town can only be sus­tained for so long, then the bill comes due, and the ones left in town will be stuck with it.

        • Penny Swan

          I am also told TIFA money can be used to redo streets in the TIFA dis­trict, that might have been a better use for the money rather then the Keefer and the Dawn. We need to think outside the box, and take a long hard look at the money going out.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Not only can it, it has been used in the past to improve the streets in the TIFA dis­trict.

          • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

            Really? Where. No seri­ously, or is it side­walks, and curbs? Important yes, but less noticed, so I can see why I missed it. I guess all those new lights might be it.

        • Penny Swan

          And Stephen French I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you were on a lunch break and not on a city system while on social media.

          • Stephen French

            I’m at a con­ference

          • Penny Swan

            Ahhhhh ok

  • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

    On the point about an able work­force, I’m really missing some­thing here, or the city doesn’t under­stand the labor force. The statement that the city lacks an able work­force, and there aren’t enough employers to keep one, while accurate doesn’t lead to the con­clusion drawn, more edu­cation and training. The city spends X thou­sands, or more likely 10s of thou­sands, trains some number of people to do what exactly? Training isn’t some neb­ulous thing, you train for some job, be it a welder, assembler, pixie dust spreader at the tilt-a-whirl, whatever. Now that you have a bunch of folks that are trained, then what, hope they stay waiting for a job to come to town? No, they are going to move where they can get a job, leaving the city without an able work­force, and less money than before training the newly employed, not in the city anymore, folks.

    So what do you do? Part of the problem is con­vincing someone not already in town to move there, and yes it’s a huge problem. So, a business moving to town is really two parts, one, getting the company to con­sider relo­cating, and second, con­vincing the key employees of the company to move. The first one can be accom­plished though tax abatement, com­panies will move where they can be the most prof­itable, which often means where they pay the least in tax, some­thing New York has been pushing hard the last few years. But then you have to get the key employees to move, a problem much harder to solve. It’s pretty easy to say they would be moving from a larger location to Hillsdale, which means giving up lifestyle con­ve­niences, one of the hardest selling points.