Candidates talk mileage and short-term rentals at Harbor Springs forum


HARBOR SPRINGS — The six candidates competing in the Harbor Springs city races in the Nov. 8 election participated in a forum hosted by the Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Oct. 10.

Incumbents Matt Bugera and Andrew Potter are running for mayor. Incumbents Nancy Rondel, Jeff James, Maggie Lacy and Jamie Melke are running for the two available seats on city council.

Bonnie Kulp, executive director of the chamber of commerce, was the forum’s moderator.

Questions from the public were not accepted at the forum, but Kulp said “the chamber received a fabulous number of questions from which it was possible to build a wonderful array to ask our candidates and hopefully the, to give all members of the community the opportunity to decide. their choices. »

Each candidate was asked to prepare a two-minute opening presentation. During the Q&A, each contestant asked the same question and each had one minute to answer.

Among the topics discussed on Monday were civility in speech, the city’s next public safety mile, taxes and affordable housing.

When asked if they supported public safety mileage, four candidates said they did and two candidates said they did not.

Washer: “I support the mileage. I think it’s a good avenue to take. Absolutely, I have the ultimate respect for our police force. One of the things that makes Harbor Springs the city it is is c is that it’s a safe city, and that’s extremely important to me. I don’t think it will solve all our problems, in terms of income, but I think it’s a good start and I think it’s is something that many of our community really appreciate.

Bugere: “I also support the next fire and safety village. Our police department does much more than just watch the streets. They help our elderly citizens if they have a problem, they work with children in schools, they are our city’s ambassadors, they spend a lot of time working the streets of the city, they do security checks on buildings. I support the police department 100%.”

Melke: “I also support the public safety mileage. I think the police are very active in the community. They’re always watching people, they’re in town, they’re walking, they’re in their cars and they’re very accessible and I think so it’s very easy to contact them if you ever have any doubts about something.I think supporting this mileage would ensure that we can continue to provide these services.

Potter: “You all know I’m a retired law enforcement officer. I’m also a current firefighter…Councillor Rondel, when they were talking about the mileage, she said ‘Let’s see what happens.’ No facts were offered No data points were offered I called 10 regional departments and this is what I learned.

“First, Harbor Springs’ per-capita funding is one of the most-funded, if not the most-funded police departments in the entire state, at $740 per capita…the next town is Boyne City, four times the population , five times the district to patrol, they have seven police, $248 per capita.

“…I love our police service. I love our services. Their services will not be cut if this mileage is not passed. I do not support this police mileage. It is nothing more than than a Headlee amendment replacement bait and switch.”

Of lace: “I too would like to refrain from going with a mileage until we form a finance committee. This is the fourth time I have asked this of the board and I think by having a finance committee we we can understand exactly where we need to go. … Also, if you look at the focus on the police or the fire department, we never denied anything that they ever wanted.

James: “I’m for the mileage, but not for the reason you think. … The reason I’m for it is … our balances are going down, and I understand that. The reason they’re down is because of the weir. It should have been a bond issue, it shouldn’t have been funded in cash, but it was. So, I would like to replenish that money. I would also like, if I’m on city council, to restrict where this money goes in. I don’t know if we need it all, but I think it’s a good deal.

When asked if there should be more regulations on short-term rentals in the city, the candidates all said it was a difficult question to balance.

Melke: “I think the planning commission is working on some restrictions in residential areas. I haven’t had the experience of living next to a short-term rental, so I can’t really speak to the disruption that that would be. has caused, but I’ve heard several people talk about the number of people staying in these homes and how long they stay and the lack of respect for our community.I think reducing short term rentals a bit would also help to have more homes for people who want to move here and live here and raise their families.”

James: “I know that’s definitely a problem. Last year it was definitely more vocal and you heard a lot more than this year. A funny, weird story, was talking to the postmaster last year and she said she had never delivered more inflatable beds in her life… That made sense, because what was happening was one family was renting a place, but three families were showing up, and that didn’t happen. obviously isn’t fair so it has to be controlled somehow how but again it wasn’t as strong this year actually i would like to ask how this year has been compared to last year. But I don’t have an answer to that, that’s for sure.

Roundel: “We’ve been working on it and are still working on it. The planning commission really spends a lot of time trying to come up with recommendations for the council. I think it would make sense to put limits on them. I don’t think that we should get rid of it. We pride ourselves on having festivals and regattas and all the things we do in the city and people need a place to stay and we have one hotel in the city so I don’t think we can just get rid of it. But we are working on it… (The) planning commission is working very hard to find some kind of compromise on them.

Bugere: “At the council, we’ve updated our short-term rental rules three or four times in the last three or four years. The planning commission is working hard on it. Short-term rentals are positive and negative for the community. We have a lot of dark houses that aren’t dark because it’s now short-term rentals, which draws people into our town to support business, but it also eliminates a lot of opportunities for people to rent houses here and live in Harbor It’s a balancing act and I think we’ve done a good job so far trying to find a balance and I think we’ll get better with time.

Of lace: “So it’s a national issue and I believe it’s evolving and I think we need to get back to best practice and the city is doing a great job of addressing it. I believe we need to look at the state, with the final the decision is based on the state. It will dictate a lot to us.

Potter: “The issue of short-term rentals has been massaged and tweaked many times over the past three years, as Mr. Bugera said, at least three times. It is constantly rehashed and rehashed. Every time someone one complains she’s brooding I think the whole issue is fairness and who gets the short term lease versus a group that may have 20 short term rentals I think fairness is a very important thing.

The full forum is available at

— Contact Jillian Fellows at [email protected]


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