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Posted: 01/02/13

Expanding and improving on
WT's to do list for 2013

Observer Special Writer
      The New Year in Washington Township will be one of infrastructure improvements and major developments in the water department. The board is also expected to concentrate on more cost savings.
       The board plans to discuss and decide on the possibility of expanding the water and sewer line up to 31 Mile Road. Not only will this help out existing businesses, but Supervisor Dan O'Leary said the water and sewer hookup will hopefully entice future businesses into the area.
       It could also be a benefit for an existing business since a shift from a septic field to the water and sewer hookup could gain it additional room for parking, for example, when a septic field is no longer needed.
       The road work will continue within the township thanks to money from the county. The project for 2013 is from 26 Mile to West Road and will include new sidewalks, widening to three lanes and repaving.
       There will also be two to three miles of limestone applied to one of the township's gravel roads. Exactly which road is to be chosen is still undetermined. O'Leary said they will wait until spring to see how the gravel roads have held up before they choose which one will receive the application.
       "We'll have to have a debate about that at the board table," he said.
       The township also has $50,000 to spend on sidewalks. O'Leary said that is part of their Sidewalk Master Plan. Which areas will receive the new sidewalks has not been decided yet, but they will follow the projects listed on their plan and see what will be a good fit for the new year.
       The township offices computer upgrades received quite a bit of internal upgrades during 2012. This year could be another year for upgrades, but on the outside. O'Leary said the parking lot looks like it could use some work as well as the roof on the township office.
       As for the yearly water rate increases, relief is on the horizon for the township. Thanks to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's effort to upgrade its system and technology, and a staff reduction, their savings will be passed down to the local levels.
       O'Leary said that currently, an 8 percent yearly increase can pretty much be expected from the DWSD but with its cost saving efforts that figure will eventually drop to 4 percent.
       "Finally, DWSD has the kind of leadership focused on this," O'Leary said, adding DWSD is looking to control its costs and not impose any ridiculous increases.
       This reduction could take a few years.
       At the local level, Washington has been doing its part to cut costs as well and the addition of a water tower will help offset the township's costs. The plan would be to fill it during non-peak usage hours and then use the tower during those hours.
       O'Leary said the proposal for a water tower will go before the board sometime during the first quarter of 2013.
       O'Leary said there are other plans for the township for 2013 to save money, improve safety and bring more growth in.
       For saving some money, he said he hopes to have the township's six union contracts nailed down for 2013. The goal he hopes to achieve with the contract pertains to new hires. All new hires will be hired in at a substantially lower rate than that of the existing union employees.
       O'Leary plans to continue to work on bringing new business into the township. Already there are plans in the works for a brewery in the building across from the township offices that used to be Leather Works. He said there are also talks of an assisted living facility settling within the township limits.
       Safety within the township limits remains a priority for 2013. The issue of police protection will remain on the front burner. O'Leary said the run for property crimes are up 20 percent. There are a few options the board could explore such as using money from the general fund to pay for extra deputies. Another would be a higher police protection millage which would allow them to add more deputies within the township.
       "That would be the voters' call," O'Leary said, adding he would not impose that until it's something the voters would like.
       After a lot of hard work, WBRW is up to an operational standard. O'Leary said they're now looking to figure out how they can sell their services to other communities. They've even entertained the idea of seeking out advertisement companies to film for.
       The contract between Bruce Township and the Village of Romeo is up in June, but both communities have signed on for another three years. Though already signed, that contract will begin in June.
       Also expiring in June is the contract between Washington Township and MI Community Media. O'Leary said they could just simply renew or go out to bid.
       "Certainly we feel we've accomplished a lot of neat stuff with them," he said.
       In addition to the community involvement with volunteers, curriculum set up in the school and programming for the community, they've also added features such as live streaming of events.
       "It was a smart move, a monumental step forward," he said of WBRW.

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