OUR VIEW: Unfinished business


By Daily News • Last Updated 2:12 pm on Monday, January 27, 2014

We’ve been keeping an eye on several local items of unfinished business.

• • • •

In Thursday’s newspaper, we published a reminder about this Monday’s Montcalm County Board of Commissioners meeting, which will feature a public hearing about a proposed property tax increase.

The public hearing — which is scheduled to start at 1:45 p.m. in the Montcalm County Administrative Building in Stanton — is a result of Montcalm Alliance subcommittee members asking commissioners to enact a .1 millage to generate $163,000 to fund the Alliance’s plan to join forces with The Right Place, another economic development group.

What makes the millage proposal a hot topic is how Alliance members want it to be enacted — using Michigan’s Public Act 88, a law dating back to 1913 that theoretically allows commissioners to impose the millage without a ballot vote by the people. We say “theoretically,” because some people, such as Gratiot County Commissioner Scott Showers, don’t think the law is Constitutional when matched up with the state’s Constitution of 1963.

Whatever the outcome of Monday’s public hearing and subsequent vote by commissioners, we hope county officials will continue to pursue some type of local economic development initiative, whether it’s a ballot vote put to the people or a unique new proposal that has yet to be voiced.

• • • •

In Friday’s newspaper, we published an update about a proposed secondhand dealer ordinance that would require certain Montcalm County businesses to regularly provide law enforcement officials with detailed reports about buyers and sellers.

The proposal was authored by Commissioner Steve DeWitt, who works as Howard City’s police officer. His goal is to better track down and recover items that are stolen and then resold at places such as pawn shops. However, the proposal as originally written would also place the new requirements on local antique dealers, who were, of course, less than thrilled by this news.

After antique dealers voiced their dissent at a meeting last October, commissioners took their concerns to heart and rewrote some major portions of the ordinance. We were heartened to see our commissioners listen to their constituents.

The proposed ordinance will come up for further discussion at a future commissioner meeting.

• • • •

We haven’t heard anything lately about the status of the sanitary sewer system at Baldwin Lake.

The topic received a lot of coverage in these pages over the past year, primarily due to a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the city of Greenville vs. Eureka Township related to Baldwin Lake sewer documents.

The FOIA lawsuit was thankfully resolved late last year, but the sewer situation remains unresolved.

Baldwin Lake is located partially in Eureka Township and partially in Greenville. A 1986 agreement between the two municipalities states the contract shall remain in full force for 10 years and shall be subject to annual review and shall be extended automatically for a one-year period unless renegotiated or terminated.

So far, we have been left with more questions than answers about funding issues and whether city officials should walk away from the sewer system created by previous city officials.

We hope both municipalities can reach an agreement that benefits the people who rely on the sewer system. We are anxious to see how discussions progress.

 

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

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