Incumbent Dean Girbach is one of four candidates for Saline City Council. He is running with fellow incumbent Janet Dillon and Mike Gudith and Christen Mitchell. City voters will elect three council members in November. They begin two-year terms in January.
Meet Dean Girbach:
Name: Dean B. Girbach
Eastern Michigan University
Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration- Accounting
Saline Area Schools
Financial Lead Manager, University of Michigan – School of Public Health Dean’s Office 2003-16
Various positions at U of M including; business manager, administrator and accountant 1986-2003
Councilmember 1997-2003 and 2010-Present (Mayor Pro-Tem, 2000, 2012)
Current Board Commissioner Appointments
Local Taxing Authorities (TIFA, EDC) 2001-2017
Planning Commission 2012-Present
Past Commissions and Board Appointments:
City of Saline -HDC, Youth, Saline Area Fire Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals
Michigan Municipal League - Finance and Taxation Committee
National League of Cities - Human Development Policy Committee.
Other Associations and Organizations:
NACUBO National Associations of College and University Business Officers 1990-Present
CACUBO Central Associations of College and University Business Officers 1990-Present
Saline Main Street Business Economic Restructure Team 2012-13
Saline Area Historical Society – Treasurer June 2014-Present
Measure for Measure - A Men's Chorus Society -Treasurer 1999-2008
Over the years, providing support where needed for seasonal festivals, community events, and other community task forces.
Why are you running for election?
I have strong feelings of personal pride in serving and truthfully find it exhilarating at times. My working to keep Saline a successful, vibrant and welcoming place is part of a family legacy I continue to uphold and hopefully instill in others. For me, serving as a member of council is my way to give back to a city I have called home for more than 50 years.
Why should Saline voters elect you?
In terms of relevant qualifications, I have over thirty years of experience in accounting, finance and human resource management. In addition, I have served almost a total of twelve years as a member of city council. I have a proven record of dedicated service, consistent approach, insistency on accountability, and the demand for equitable consideration in our approach to policy.
Describe your approach to solving problems and making decisions in a group setting.
Active discussion and participation is a key part of any problem solving. I strongly encourage questions and insist upon adequate information for all participants. Lively debate does not necessarily involve a disagreement or yelling. As each councilmember brings their own strengths to the table, knowing when to yield for sake of discussion is key. The final decision is then up to the group through each participant’s vote.
The City of Saline has many identified needs, but limited financial resources. What do you see as the priorities for spending?
A clear issue facing the city in the short term is funding for continued road work. If the county millage passes, the city’s allocation will help, but not provide a level to keep our streets better than average. We will need to determine what others options can be implemented
Labor contracts are currently under negotiations and will impact overall operating expenses. There will be some impact, how much is yet to be determined.
Lastly, there is an expectation the Waste Treatment Plant odor will be addressed. Although this cost can be absorbed as part of the water/sewer operations, it will impact fees.
How should a city council member engage with the public?
Engaging residents is no longer just knocking on doors, it involves using as many opportunities as feasible. Council must now rely on numerous forms of media, including print, social and telecasts. I also find it extremely beneficial to participate in city events and activities where casual conversations provide individuals the chance to share thoughts and ideas.
What factors will you consider when deciding on requests for tax breaks, zoning variances, price cuts, etc from developers and business interests?
The city has limited assets which it can leverage. When developers are willing to comply with existing expectations, the city can work quickly. Circumstances are different for each situation and there are times a project may be overstretching. Council must avoid being pressured to grant exceptions which may be detrimental in the long run. Incentive approaches of ten years ago are no longer valid. What was a balanced and effective formula for local government has been taken away be Lansing. Businesses were granted significant reductions in both the business tax and personal property taxes, the city does not need to further add to its shortfall by granting even more relief.
When city employees identify perceived problems within city government, do you want them to come to you with those issues?
As a council member, it is our first priority to support the management put in place. Any deliberate involvement in day to day operations may jeopardize and undermine the effectiveness of leadership. In most organizations, an acceptable approach always begins first with the employees involved, then an immediate supervisor, and if needed, the manager. The structure and approach is designed to quickly address an issue without interference and delay from unknowledgeable third parties. If I am made aware of a concern, I simply forward to the city manager and copy other members of council. I will not take any further action until I have management’s response.