SCOTT WORKS DILIGENTLY TO KEEP LIVONIA GOVERNMENT RUNNING EFFICIENTLY WHILE MAINTAINING EXCELLENT CITY SERVICES
Return of the Christmas Parade!
Recalling fond childhood memories of Livonia Christmas parades, Scott saw the annual tree-lighting ceremony as a perfect opportunity to re-ignite this fun community event. He presented the idea to Parks & Recreation Director Ted Davis and worked with him to brainstorm the particulars of the event. Scott then presented the plan to Mayor Wright, and with his approval, Livonia launched a new tradition that will bring smiles to our community for years to come!
After seeing a $6,500 charge for propane conversion kits on multiple vehicle purchases for the Department of Public Works, Scott questioned whether the city was getting a return on this investment. This analysis had not been done, so Scott did it himself, consulting with DPW and several third-party engineers to understand the cost-benefit analysis before presenting his findings to Council. With nearly zero return on these investments (both financially and environmentally), the Council voted 5-2 to eliminate the practice. To date, this has saved the City nearly $100,000 and counting.
Protecting Property Values
The initial proposal for the new neighborhood at the site of the former Clay Elementary School (near 6 & Newburgh) included a mix of densely-packed condominiums and single-family homes. Scott spent hours talking to neighbors from the adjacent neighborhood about their concerns and successfully shepherded a change to the plan that ensured new homes would be zoned consistent with the existing properties abutting them.
Chairing the Finance Committee
Scott is a “numbers guy,” and he is intently focused on keeping government running efficiently. Thus, it has been a natural fit for Scott to chair the Finance Committee. In this role, Scott oversees the Council’s review of the annual budget process. He also makes a point of keeping citizens apprised of the state of the state of the City’s finances.
Strengthening Future Finances
Each of the past two years, Livonia has received a higher-than-expected personal property tax reimbursement from the state (~$1M). It is tempting to use budget windfalls like this for flashy projects, but as Finance Committee Chair, Scott recommended they be applied to long-term retiree liabilities. One local business executive marveled at how unusual it is to see this kind of financial discipline by local governments. Though still not 100% funded, Livonia is in far better shape than most other communities and remains committed to fulfilling these promises to retired workers.
Dog Park: Better Location with Lower Costs
The administration recommended the re-purposing two soccer fields on the north side of 7 Mile in Bicentennial Park. Though he supported the dog park project, Scott felt that the almost daily soccer activity on those particular fields positively portrayed a positive image to cars passing by on 7 Mile. He suggested an alternative location in the same park that was underused at the time. Upon further study, the administration learned that Scott’s suggestion was feasible and would even cost $20,000 less than the initial proposal. That is where the dog park exists today, and it has added to the vitality of Bicentennial Park.
Scott believes Livonia’s network of sidewalks is an asset and has been frustrated by neighborhoods where some homes have sidewalks and some do not, creating a patchwork of “sidewalks to nowhere.” This is the result of inconsistent decision-making by past councils when developers ask for sidewalk waivers. Therefore, Scott is generally a hard sell for these waivers. To help eliminate the confusion, he has requested the development of a sidewalk master plan. This item currently sits in committee.
Strategic Planning for Development Incentives
In 2018, Council was asked to offer a brownfield tax credit to a large development near 7 Mile & Middlebelt. Knowing these types of requests will likely be more prevalent in the coming years, Scott wanted to ensure consistency in how they were applied so future developers could plan accordingly. One way to invite economic development is to help builders predict outcomes before investing time and money in preparing incentive requests. Therefore, Scott asked for a strategic review of Livonia’s brownfield development policy. Following a joint meeting with the Brownfield Development Authority and Zoning Board of Appeals, the City now has a list of guidelines to aid in future decisions.
“Livonia Stands with Detroit”
Scott launched this popular event with Life Remodeled that rallied Livonia residents for a day of cleaning up neighborhoods in Detroit. A stronger Detroit is good for Livonia, and this was a neat opportunity for Livonia neighbors to serve together and demonstrate our good will to our eastern neighbors. Many thanks to Livonia Public Schools for partnering with the City to make this a successful event for two straight years.
More Accessible Public Hearings
During Council meetings, the site plans or other documents under review are shown on the audience screens in the auditorium. For a number of reasons, however, this was not done for public hearings, so audience members never knew what council members were seeing on their screens during the discussion. Scott worked with the Council office and I/T Department to ensure this was changed. Now, audience members can see everything we see during these important discussions.
Thinking Outside the Box
Though Scott has great respect for Livonia’s proven formula for success, he also recognizes the value in remaining open and flexible to the consideration of new ideas. This particularly applies to new development, where Scott often challenges prospective developers to understand what makes the most sense in the current business climate so we can ensure Livonia’s ordinances remain relevant.