Roads, Rubbish, the Drain and School Election

October 21, 2019

Our road plans for 2019 have been hit and miss due to a number of factors. One of the problems of course is the complete upheaval in management at CCRC. The Road Commission has been operating with interim management and micro managing by Commission members. Initially our match from CCRC was cut but then restored. Despite such unraveling our paving is nearly complete. White Birch, Columbus Dr. and Washington Rd. are done. The Dover Rd. project is delayed due to a strike at Rieth Riley. I know there have been many complaints about Dover Rd. between Old 27 and Grant Rd., hopefully patching can hold things over till next year. Why the rough spots? In preparation for paving Reith Riley milled the edges at the overpass, then shortly afterward Local 324 went on strike. It went from temporary roughness to a more permanent hole. The 2020 preliminary road plan should be complete by January 1, we’ll cover that in another article.

This past summer we started discussions with American Waste our rubbish service provider due to our contract extension expiration on December 31st. Our rates have held steady for 4 years, the rate will increase to $144 annually, which appears on your winter tax bill. We will likely see additional rate increases due to inflationary impacts down the road. Our recycling program will remain the same. Some have asked about curbside recycling, the cost for that service is estimated at about $140 additional per year. American Waste provides good service and we have very few complaints. We based our contract extension strictly from a customer service aspect. Our new contract will be different than past contracts due to consideration of extensions etc. This contract continues year over year after an initial 3 year period unless either party cancels with a one year notice. If anyone has concerns about the rubbish service or questions they may call American Waste at 588-6000.

The Little Tobacco Drain project is winding its way to discover actual costs and then what we pay. We could assume under the current schedule by March or April we should know more. The Township focus should be on what the Assessment at Large will be, but also making sure the spread of expense is fair to everyone. Here is a little history, the drain was created in 1897, its first expansion or extension was in 1906 and the last known maintenance was in 1947. Here are some facts, under the current boundary adjustment; Grant Township has 652 acres in the district, City of Clare has 844 acres, Vernon Township has 5,488 acres and Gilmore Township has nearly 7 acres. Many have questioned the cost of the project, if you take the replacement of 7 bridges and the actual cleanout, the numbers mount quickly. A number of properties either in the drain right of way, or in the flood zone will be purchased using a FEMA grant. This is matched with $550,000 of district money, then adding it all up equals the cost, still estimated over $7 million.

On November 5 the Farwell Schools will hold another Bond millage election. This impacts about half of our residents in Grant Township. In review of the Bond finance application, which has been approved by the Farwell Board of Education, the Schools Attorney and Michigan Department of Treasury one issue among others stands out. In August 2018 the Farwell School Board agreed to a contract with Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) Construction Management at a 6% charge for services. The amount listed in the Bond application is 10%. That is about $804,000 extra cost for the district. Some of that extra cash may be used to promote a yes vote but it likely can’t be traced as it winds through different fingers. Also we should be insulted by a recent postcard mailer with our State Representative endorsement which indicates the failed May Bond issue was not a responsible approach. Still no plan and somehow this issue is better? The hurry up approach because we want this to be a renewal issue instead of a new issue causes extra election expense over $20,000 in 2019, not counting what hidden costs are for Townships. Regardless of your position on the subject you should vote, the last vote in May had less than 20% turnout, quite shameful. Let’s put that another way, 1/5 of the voters decide for everyone else, last time I checked voting is one of our duties and it’s a freedom we should be part of.

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