OUR VIEW: If Road Commission’s not broke, don’t fix it

By Daily News • Last Updated 1:31 pm on Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners deadlocked in a 4-4 vote Monday on a motion to have a public hearing to gather input on appointing vs. electing road commissioners.

The Road Commission in Stanton is independent from the Board of Commissioners and went so far as to change its name from the “Montcalm County Road Commission” to the “Road Commission for Montcalm County” to assert its independence.

Chairman Patrick Q. Carr said commissioners have “no business” getting involved with the Road Commission, noting that no road commissioners have come to the Board of Commissioners asking for changes.

Commissioner Ron Baker didn’t see the harm in having a public hearing to at least gather feedback from the public and determine whether any funds could be saved by making changes.

We think Baker and Carr both made good points, but we tend to side with Carr.

The appoint vs. elect option only recently came before commissioners when Gov. Rick Snyder signed the option into law as an amendment to Public Act 156, which would allow a county board of commissioners to ask voters to decide whether the powers, duties and functions of an elected board of county road commissioners should be transferred to the county board of commissioners.

If voters approved the transfer, the board of road commissioners would be dissolved and the county board of commissioners would be authorized to receive and expend road commission funds.

If the board of road commissioners was dissolved and the county board of commissioners determined that a board of road commissioners would provide a cost-savings and would better meet the needs of the county, the board of commissioners can ask voters to decide whether to adopt a county road system with a board of county road commissioners.

It’s always nice to have options, but as Carr noted, “The fact that we’ve got the authority to do it doesn’t make it right.”

Road commissioners, like county commissioners, are elected officials, meaning we, the voters, get to decide whether they return to office based on how they use our money. We like having that option and we hope it keeps our elected officials honest.

“I think it’s best to just keep focusing on what we’re doing if this is working,” Carr summarized.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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