Crystal board backs public vote on Montcalm Alliance millage

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 10:39 pm on Friday, December 13, 2013

The Crystal Township Board approved a resolution opposing the use of Public Act 88 to enact a countywide millage to fund economic development efforts by the Montcalm Alliance.


CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — Opinions are weighing heavy on each side of the fence regarding a millage proposed by the Montcalm Alliance for local economic development — and the Crystal Township Board made its stance clear Wednesday evening.

In a 4-0 vote, with board member Jason Anderson absent, board members passed a resolution against the proposed millage as it stands currently, because they believe it is being approached in a matter that would forego a vote from the public.

The resolution reads: “The Crystal Township Board is opposed to the tenth of a mill levy that has been recommended by the Montcalm County Finance and Economic Development Committee.”

The resolution also states that the board “strongly objects to the utilization of a provision in a Public Act dated 1913 to fund the Montcalm Alliance.”

Also included in the resolution was a request from the board that in order to establish a consistent revenue resource for the Montcalm Alliance, Montcalm County commissioners should consider putting the issue on a ballot before the voters of the Montcalm County.

No board members offered any comment on the resolution, but before the vote, Montcalm County Commissioner Ron Braman presented his stance, stating that he is against passing the millage without a public vote.

Braman, who previously voted to recommend the full board of the county commissioners approve the millage, said after speaking with constituents in his district that his opinion has changed.

“I talked all day to people in my district,” Braman said. “I’ve got the same answer from all of them, that they want to vote on it, and that’s what I’ll take back to the county commissioners.”

As to whether he agreed with his constitutes, Braman replied “I do.”

“If you jump down (people’s) throats, and that’s how people are going to call it, if we came back in to years and wanted a millage for roads or whatever, you’d never be able to pass it,” he said. “And I understand that.”

Crystal Township police coverage

In other matters at Wednesday’s meeting, board members voted 3-1, with board member Ted Padgett opposed, to pursue continuing a contract with the Montcalm County Sheriff’s office for coverage in Crystal Township until the township’s police fund is depleted next October.
According to Clerk Bob Naumann, there is about $30,000 remaining in the township’s police fund.

At a cost of $5,916.67 per month, the board would run out of funding for police coverage at the end of the summer.
Supervisor Chris Johnston said it would take a new millage in the August primary election for the township to continue to receive a dedicated police presence in the form of a deputy for 40 hours a week.

Johnston said a police presence in Crystal Township is needed due to the extra population that the township encounters during the summer months as temporary residents return to their lakeside homes at Crystal and Duck lakes.“In the summertime, it’s so crowded, it’s nice to have that police presence,” he said. “In the wintertime, we have do many people leaving we have a few empty houses and we have quite a few break ins sometimes.”

Padgett said he was opposed to the resolution because he wanted to seek other, possibly cheeper options for police protection, throughout the upcoming months before renewing a contract with the sheriff’s office.

Other township businesses

Board members also voted unanimously to approve a new contract with Roger Gooding of the Department of Public Works after a positive evaluation.

“Roger had a very satisfactory evaluation and because of his hard work I’d like to make a motion that we keep his salary the same and that we increase his vacation pay from two weeks to three weeks per year,” Naumann said.

The board also entered closed session for approximately 30 minutes  to discuss Gooding’s evaluation, as well as discuss a piece of property the township is considering purchasing.

No decisions were made regarding the property when the board returned to open session.

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