BELDING — In an effort to save money for the city, Belding City Council members voted unanimously at Tuesday night’s meeting at the Pere Marquette Depot to change the City Council election cycle from odd to even years.
During a public hearing at the start of the meeting, City Manager Meg Mullendore explained the details of the request after no public comment was given.
“The state has allowed the opportunity to change the election cycle,” she said, referring to state legislation passed in December 2011. “Currently, we’re in an odd-year cycle. As a result there’s an additional incumbrance of expenses to do the election when it’s not being done in conjunction with the presidential or gubernatorial (elections). As a result, there is also greater voter turnout at those elections than when you have a stand alone election.”
Mullendore estimates the approximate cost to administer an election held in the odd year is $4,000.
She said the cost does not include time city employees and staff devote to the election process at City Hall or the time members of the Department of Public Works (DPW) spend moving equipment in and out of the precincts for the election.
“What that does mean is that the two members on the council whose terms don’t expire until 2015 would be extended an additional year and would not expire until 2016,” she said. “Those that run in the November election, it would be for a five year turn, until 2018.”
Council members Joe Feuerstein and Tom Jones agreed to accept the additional year to their current terms.
When Feuerstein was elected in November 2011, he stated that he would only serve one four-year term.
“I don’t like the extra year, but I guess I’ll have to take it,” he said explaining he wanted to be upfront and honest.
Mayor Ron Gunderson, Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Belding and councilman Mike Scheid are up for reelection this November and the term for all three positions will be extended from a four year term to a five year term to conclude in 2018.
Mayor Ron Gunderson said he believes the savings created by switching from odd years to even years for elections will be significant for the city.
“Even though the number that came up was only $4,000, I think over the years it will be quite the savings.”
Council members approved the change after the conclusion of the public hearing.
In comments given at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s meeting, Feuerstein said he was appreciative of the efforts being done to patch up holes on city streets entering the summer season and hopes that members of the community have taken notice.
Feuerstein has been an advocate of repairing city streets since he first campaigned for his position on City Council.
“I hope people will take a look at some of the streets on the north side (of town),” he said. “We’re finally getting some roads fixed. We can thank (Mullendore) for that.”
Mullendore said thanks should go to DPW Director Ernie Thomas, who has been leading the effort to perform patchwork on city streets after Mullendore approved that city funds be used for the work.
“I’m giving him some autonomy to do these things, and he’s doing very well,” she said.