Montcalm County commissioners challenge conservation district officials

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:04 am on Thursday, April 17, 2014

STANTON — Last month, Montcalm Conservation District officials requested $15,000 from the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners to help the conservation district’s looming budget deficit.

This month, commissioners agreed to help conservation district officials — and to issue them a challenge.

On Monday, the Montcalm County Finance & Personnel Committee recommended two motions to the full board —  to contribute $7,500 to the conservation district and to match any contribution from local townships to the conservation district up to $7,500.

The goal is to encourage conservation district officials to attend local township board meetings to make township officials more aware of conservation district services and the need for funding, something Commissioner Ron Braman of Vestaburg supports.

“They used to go to townships and solicit before,” Braman said. “It’s not that they haven’t done it before. I don’t know how well it turned out. Maybe push a little harder.”

Commissioner Patrick Q. Carr of Lakeview supported both motions, noting, “Ag is an important part of what’s happening in this county. I’d hate to think that we can’t figure out a way to fund them close to what they’re asking for.”

Commissioner Tom Lindeman of Greenville cast the lone dissenting vote against both motions, noting that like the conservation district, the Mid-Michigan District Health Department has also been underfunded for quite some time.

The full Board of Commissioners is next scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. April 28, where they will vote whether to approve the committee’s two recommendations.

The Montcalm Conservation District was created in 1948. Its mission is to protect Montcalm County’s natural resources through education, outreach and partnerships.

According to Chairman Bruce Noll, the conservation district is currently facing a $23,988 budget deficit for this current fiscal year. Noll said the conservation district hasn’t received funds from the state since 2008. The district hasn’t received funding from local townships either, with the exception of Evergreen Township, which recently contributed $1,000.

For more information, call the Montcalm Conservation District, located in the Stanton Service Center, at (989) 831-4606 ext. 3 or visit online.

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