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Thursday, January 27 ,2011 • HERITAGE MEDIA/WESTERN REGION

State Rep. Mark Ouimet to chair House committee State Rep. Mark Ouimet has been chosen to chair the House Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs committee, making him one of only three freshman lawmakers to lead a House standing committee. Ouimet has a background in local and regional government operations, having served as a city council member and county commissioner. Ouimet was a member of the Ann Arbor City Council from 1988 to 1992 and the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners from 2004 to 2010. “It’s a tremendous honor to be selected to lead this important committee,” said Ouimet, R-52nd District, in a news release. “I clearly understand the

challenges all government units are facing, as well as the dire need for us to step up and address these issues in a bipartisan and supportive manner. Ouimet said the committee will consider several issues including more cooperation between municipalities. “Finding new ways where local governments can join forces is not only fiscally prudent; it can bring us together socially and politically,” he said. “Helping our local governments is certainly a bipartisan issue, and I look forward to working with all my colleagues in the coming months.” Ouimet also was recently chosen to serve on the House committees on Tax Policy and Transportation.

State Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-52nd District, takes the oath of office. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly administered the ceremonial oath in the state Capitol in Lansing. Ouimet’s wife, Donna Hrozencik, daughter Courtney Ouimet, and grandson, Cole, also are pictured.

WISD board seeks input on search for new leader The Washtenaw Intermediate School District Board of Education has agreed to work with the Michigan Association of School Boards to help recruit and select the district’s next superintendent to succeed William Miller, who retired Dec. 31. Richard Leyshock, WISD’s former assistant superintendent for student services, is currently serving as the district’s interim superintendent through the end of the school year or until such time that the board employs a new superintendent.

Leyshock has said he is not a candidate for the position, and he plans to retire at the end of August. “The first step in the process is to gather input from WISD’s various constituencies and compile the information into a candidate profile that describes the key professional and personal characteristics that WISD seeks in a new leader,” said MASB’s superintendent search consultant Michael Emlaw in a news release. The information will be col-

lected through an anonymous web-based survey and supplemented with small-group meetings. Anyone interested in completing the survey can go to www. wash.k12.mi.us, click on the red “Superintendent Survey” button and answer the nine questions. All responses will be sent directly to MASB for compilation. Additionally, Emlaw will meet with several small groups of staff, school district and com-

munity members to seek their input. He said all the information will be used to create a profile document to guide the selection process.

Three earn degrees Michigan Technological University honored the achievements of nearly 400 graduates Dec. 11, at midyear commencement, including three students from Washtenaw County. Joshua Ausmus of Milan

earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Jason Cauley of Saline earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Royer Held of Ann Arbor earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering.

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Expert advice for getting ready to sell your house you can do economically given that you’ll have months before you put the property up for sale. Checking your home’s structure – roof, foundation, windows, etc., as well as its mechanical parts – heating and air conditioning, installed appliances, plumbing – can give you an early warning system for expensive repairs that a prospective buyer’s inspector would find anyway. Try now to make sure there are no problems that will kill a deal later. Ask a trusted broker for advice. Structural experts can determine whether your home is working properly –– real estate brokers may or may not be equally expert at spotting these flaws. But generally, they can be trusted on matters of appearance – whether the grounds around the home are well maintained as well as whether the home’s interior is inviting to the eye of potential buyers. Don’t overinvest in improvements. In the 1990s, spending $40,000 on a kitchen in many neighborhoods could recover that amount of money and more in the final sales price. In today’s market, those payoffs are a distant memory. Experienced brokers generally do a good job steering you away from overpaying for improvements, but there are other resources to double check the spending you’re planning to do. Remodeling Magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value report provides estimates on specific projects by region, including projections on cost recoupment. Appeal your property taxes. If you’ve never appealed your property taxes before or have not done so in many years, do so when your appeals period is open. Lowering your taxes as much as possible may help make your property more salable. Declutter and don’t re-clutter. Start making a list of items you might donate – furniture, clothing, household items, etc. Make sure they’re in good condition, and if you’re having trouble setting a value, check on eBay or other auction sites to see if you’re being fair to yourself while not drawing the

having the successful candidate identified by mid-April. For more information about the search, contact Emlaw at 657-2425.

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MONEY MATTERS

While most experts see little good news in 2011’s housing market, economic downturn is no reason to neglect maintenance on a home or lose sight of future plans to relocate. The critical issue is planning intelligently for what spending you do now to make sure it’s worth your money later. And even if your plan to sell your property is more than a year away, it’s not a bad idea to get your finances in order as well. In the coming months, you’ll be addressing tax issues, so it’s a good time to look at your overall financial picture with a qualified financial planner, as well as a trained tax expert. The October MacroMarkets Home Price Expectations Survey doesn’t see a meaningful increase in home prices until 2012, though appreciation is expected to go up on average more than 14 percent through 2014. As you wait for your opportunity, here are some ideas to incorporate in your planning: Check your credit report and score. If you plan to finance a new property once you sell, it makes ample sense to lower your debt and clean up any discrepancies in your credit data well in advance of any move into the market. Remember, you are entitled to one free copy of each of the major credit reports in any given year, and you can obtain them from one resource: www. annualcreditreport.com. Avoid all the services with expensive TV commercials calling themselves “free” – if they ask for a credit card number, you are not getting a free report. Also, so you can spot discrepancies and keep a watchful eye on the possibility of ID theft throughout the year, stagger your receipt of your reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (the major credit ratings agencies) at different points during the year. Get a home inspection. Go through local channels –– lenders, friends, real estate professionals you trust –– to find a licensed home inspector who can look over your property and help you develop a list of potential repairs and upgrades that

At a recent meeting, the WISD board also announced that applications are due by March 10. Interviews will be held in mid-to-late March, with a goal of

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