Supervisor’s Duties – Set in Statutes
The Township Supervisor is the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Legal Officer of the Township. The duties, responsibilities, and limitations are set in Michigan Statutes. In many ways, the Township Supervisor is the equivalent of a city of village Mayor.
By law, the only requirements to be a Township Supervisor are to be a registered voter in the community and to be elected by the voters. Many people seem to think that it really doesn’t take much to be a Township Supervisor and that the Supervisor has great power. Both of those thoughts are far from accurate. I have seen many newly elected Township Supervisors enter office thinking it is simple and anyone can do it. I have seen Supervisors quit within the first year when they found out the demands of the position were far greater than they thought, or when they found that they can’t run the township like they would run a business.
The Township Supervisor is the Chair of the Board of Trustees, but has only one vote on the Board, just like each other elected position. The Township Board sets policy, enacts ordinances (after following statutory guidelines), hires and fires staff, approves compensation, appoints members of committees and commissions, etc. The only power the Township Supervisor has outside the Township Board is to appoint Planning Commission members, but only with the approval of the majority of the Township Board as demonstrated by a vote of the Board.
The Township Supervisor is also the Chief Assessing Officer and Secretary of the Board of Review. However, unless the Supervisor is a certified Assessor, he/she only supervises the Assessor, but has no input in the assessing process. The Supervisor has no legal authority to change any property assessments.
The Township Supervisor is also responsible for presenting the annual budgets to the Township Board, but the Board is the approving authority for the budgets and amendments. The Board also is the approving body for expenditures. (NOTE: Dexter Township manages several million dollars in many different funds. The General Fund is responsible for all township operations. Then there are dedicated funds that are restricted for certain operations that were approved by the voters, such as the Fire Fund and Police Fund.) So, the Township Supervisor needs to have a thorough working knowledge of Public Fund Accounting and Budgeting. Being able to do the family budget, or even a budget for a business, is far different that managing public fund budgets with dedicated public accounting software.
Most people I know wouldn’t trust their finances to a financial advisor who had no experience managing the finances for others. Most people I know wouldn’t trust their legal representation to someone who had no training and experience in the law. Most people I know wouldn’t trust their real estate transactions to someone who had no experience and training in real estate. But for some reason, many folks are perfectly willing to trust the management of their community to someone who has no experience in local government.
I worked my way up in local government, learning the laws, policies and procedures along the way. I spent eight years as Township Trustee (1992-2000), fourteen years as Township Clerk (2000-2014) and six years as Township Supervisor (2000-present). I have also served on the Planning Commission and I currently serve on the Administrative Board for the Dexter Area Fire Department (former Chair); the Multi-Lakes Water & Sewer Authority Board (former Chair); the Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE); the Washtenaw Area Transportation Authority Policy Committee; and the Washtenaw Urban County Executive Committee.
I was born and raised in Washtenaw County and have lived in the Dexter Area since 1978 and in Dexter Township continuously since 1989. I spent a career with the Washtenaw County Sheriff, much of which was spent in the Dexter Area, and I was the Commanding Officer of the Sheriff’s Dexter Contract. I also spent a career with the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, including serving as Chief Ranger based out of Hudson Mills, but responsible for five parks in three counties.
I have successfully completed many, many training programs through the Michigan Municipal Clerk’s Association and the Michigan Townships Association. My graduate work at Eastern Michigan University was directly related to the responsibilities of local government. I have used my education, training and experience to help make Dexter Township a desirable place to live and to manage Township operations in the most efficient, effective and fiscally responsible manner possible.
Fresh ideas and fresh voices are important to effective local government, but direct knowledge of local issues, local history, and the operations of local government are critical. They can only be gained by working up in local government and serving on Township committees, commissions and boards over many years.
I urge you to vote for demonstrated experience to guide Dexter Township for the next four years.
Harley B. Rider