Meet the Candidates: Gene Farber
During the countdown to the Aug. 7 primary, Patch is bringing you profiles of the candidates running for office in West Bloomfield.
I graduated from Mumford High School in Detroit, Michigan. I have a B.A. degree from the University of Michigan and I have a J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
I was a clerk for the Michigan Supreme Court. I have been in private practice for 39 years. My practice has consisted of advising small businesses as well as a probate practice. I also have served as a consultant to small business and professional clients.
I have been a resident of West Bloomfield since 1975.
I have been married to my wife, Susan for 39 years. Susan is a retired elementary principal. We have three daughters. Dr. Beth Pearson is a psychologist. Her husband Dr. Richard Pearson is a microbiologist. They have one gorgeous daughter, Maya, aged 9 months. Jennifer Wasserman is a public school teacher. Her husband, Martin Wasserman is an attorney. Emily Farber is a geriatric social worker.
Activities or key endorsements you'd like to mention?
I am the Township representative to the Huron River Watershed Council and serve on the finance and audit committee. I am a public member of the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee to the Director of the Department of Natural Resources and I was appointed to that position on recommendation of the governor.
I serve as Treasurer of Temple Kol Ami in West Bloomfield. I serve as treasurer of the West Bloomfield Democratic Club as well as treasurer of my subdivision. I am also a member of the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and the Optimist Club.
Why are you running for treasurer?
I am running for treasurer because I believe I can improve the performance of the office. The treasurer’s most important job is to safely invest all township surplus funds to maximize the interest we earn. I would reinstitute the practice of the previous treasurer of preparing a cash flow analysis so we could know how much money is available for what period of time.
I would keep a minimum of cash in a non-interest bearing checking account and invest the difference in government backed securities. While interest rates are low, the township invests millions of dollars and even one percent of several million dollars is significant. I would fully utilize the ability to invest up to 10 percent of our township funds in longer maturing bonds and CDs (up to five years) as permitted by our township investment policy. The interest rate is better on longer term investments and every dollar counts. None of us can predict the future and decisions have to be made every day on investments. Not doing anything because interest rates are low is unacceptable.
The earnings of each township fund should be separately reported so that the rate of return on investments can be compared to other townships and cities of a similar size.
I would insure that all reports due the Township Board as well as all filings for payroll taxes are done on a timely basis.
Do you have new ideas you’d like to suggest for the position or township?
We should start scanning checks (like most businesses do) instead of hand-stamping them, filling out a deposit slip and sending an employee to the bank with those checks. I would appoint a citizens committee to review all aspects of the office to insure we are following best practices. We are blessed to have an abundance of professionals in West Bloomfield, some of whom are retired. This talent pool will allow us to have a diverse, experienced group to provide a real service to the township at no cost to the taxpayers.
I would reinstitute the practice of preparing a cash flow analysis as well as disclosing the rate of return on all funds.
I also would insure that all financial information is available online so that all members of the public can review it and assess the job the treasurer is doing.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing the township? How would you handle them?
The top issue the new board will face is to maintain the financial stability of the township. The actions of the township board in reducing costs and a voter-approved public safety millage increase provide stability for the next decade. We have developed a ten year projection of income and expenses. It is critical that we monitor these projections and propose continual adjustments to assure the continued financial stability of the township. We must avoid the temptation to spend additional money based on tax collections because this money will be needed in several years to maintain services without additional tax increases.
The second key issue is redevelopment of commercial areas. West Bloomfield is a mature community with few open spaces for building. I advocate the creation of a Corridor Improvement Authority (similar to a downtown development district) to capture part of the tax increase in the Maple/Orchard Lake area to help stimulate redevelopment. While we can never achieve the type of downtown that a city has, we can encourage all redevelopment to make the area more pedestrian friendly. As Chair of the Planning Commission, I helped draft the Township Center Ordinance for the Orchard Lake/Maple area. This allows mixed uses so that people can work and play in the same area. We must strive to implement this.
I would also use in limited circumstances brownfield tax credits to help with particularly difficult parcels. These should be carefully used only if the benefits to the township are clearly set forth in the agreement and the developer makes measureable commitments in exchange for the credits.
Finally, I believe that transparency in government is an important issue. We can provide additional information online to increase transparency. The treasurer’s office should post the quarterly reports including the list of investments on its website. All other departments should post information online that is easily-accessible to the public.
What do you think are the key responsibilities of the treasurer's office? How would you fulfill them?
The treasurer has two main responsibilities. First, to send out tax bills on a timely basis and collect the taxes. Second, to invest the surplus funds of the township in a safe manner to insure the best rate of return under the economic conditions that exist. I set forth above what I would do as treasurer. The township treasurer is a full time job and the vast majority of that time should be spent on insuring that your tax dollars are wisely invested.
Who else is running? Meet the candidates for the West Bloomfield Township Board Patch has interviewed so far:
- Supervisor: Michele Economou Ureste
- Supervisor: Jonathan Warshay
- Clerk: Cathy Shaughnessy
- Clerk: Neha Patel
- Treasurer: Teri Weingarden
- Treasurer: Gene Farber
- Trustee: Howard Rosenberg
- Trustee: Steven Kaplan
- Trustee: Larry Brown
- Trustee: Al Zara
- Trustee: Hartley Harris
- Trustee: Jeremy Kaplan
- Trustee: Tom Pustelak
- Trustee: Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer
- Trustee: Gerald J. Sukenic