OUR VIEW: Don’t fix working road commissions

By Daily News • Last Updated 9:39 am on Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Michigan Legislature passed a law last spring giving county commissioners the option of disbanding their local road commissions.

Autumn is now upon us, and just two counties have decided to exercise the option.

According to the Burlington Free Press, the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners recently voted 6-1 to make its road commission a county department effective Nov. 1. After the measure passed, many people in the audience applauded, including some road commission employees.

Chris Vreeland, who is chairman of the road commission, was not among those applauding. He called the decision a “complete failure of leadership” by the board of commissioners.

However, Doug Wildt, the newest road commissioner, spoke in support of the takeover, saying, “I’ve never seen a business run this poorly in my life.”

Calhoun County follows in the steps of Ingham County, which voted to disband its road commission in June — soon after they were given the option to do so.

According to the Burlington Free Press, a Calhoun County task force began meeting in April to discuss consolidation. They voted in July to move forward, saying disbanding the road commission would put more tax dollars toward road repairs and make local government more accountable for roads.

The option of consolidating the road commission has been discussed here in Montcalm County for some time, most recently last March when the board of commissioners deadlocked in a 4-4 vote about whether to have a public hearing to gather input about appointing vs. electing road commissioners.

While commissioners such as Ron Baker and John Johansen were curious about exploring the option and hearing what residents thought, commissioners such as Patrick Q. Carr and Roger Caris were of the mindset that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

We feel the same way … but we will continue to follow with interest our neighboring Michigan counties. We’re curious to see how many follow in the steps of Calhoun and Ingham counties, and how many are content to let sleeping dogs lie.

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

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