19 Aug 2014
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Lower Budget, Better Business Eyed by Sparta

Township Council lays out plans for improvement in the township for 2013.

Lower Budget, Better Business Eyed by Sparta

Cutting down the township’s debt, bringing in a 2013 budget below the state cap, setting up emergency protocols and improving communication are among the top goals set by the Sparta Township Council recently.

“This is a township council that will work for you,” said Mayor Gilbert Gibbs. “We’re going to have a big year.”

Overall, each council member set goals based on their committee liaison assignments.

Gibbs' first goal is reinvigorating the township’s development and construction efforts to show businesses interested in moving to Sparta that the township is business-friendly. He called for tighter budgeting.

He also wants to improve the township’s water system, begin to reduce the debt service paid annually with better financial planning that would eventually allow the township to pay for more items with cash, explore more shared services and work more closely with the board of education.

Deputy Mayor Molly Ann Whilesmith wants more transparency within town hall and between the council, township employees and the community. She also will work to find more shared services and called for more support for the Municipal Alliance, a group that fights substance abuse.

Councilman Jerry Murphy said he will work with the economic development committee to find ways to promote Sparta, and will work toward using technology more effectively inside town hall.

He will work to secure a state Department of Transportation grant to complete the sidewalks on Route 181 from Roundtop to Main Street, and work to address the issue of parking lot light spillage, that is, when bright lights at a parking lot cast a lot of light on neighboring properties.

“That is not what rural life is all about,” he said.

Councilwoman Christine Quinn’s goals are centered on better communications, beginning with the council. She said she will work with her committee to create more effective communication between the council and township employees, department heads and the public.

One effort she said that was already started was a redesign of the township’s website to add calendar information and announcements.

She wants to see the budget come in below the 2-percent state cap, and to reduce debt service. Quinn also will implement training for all township employees that focuses on customer service, team building and management of discipline.

Quinn said she also plans to meet with the township's public safety officials to devise protocols to generate  better emeregency management plans. This is not, she said, a plan to tell the police that they will do this or that, she said, but to set up standards for what  action would be taken if power was lost, flooding occurred or there was extensive wind damage, for example.

Councilman John Schon, who was absent Tuesday, set goals that centered on better organization and transparency, and budgeting issues.

Did the council members address the issues you would like to see handled? What else should be done in addition to their goals.

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