By Erich T. Doerr
The December 19th Clare County Board of Commissioners meeting was the last one of 2012 and with it came some final actions and a meaningful goodbye.
The meeting was the last for Commissioner Jerome ‘Jerry’ Burger who lost his bid for re-election earlier this year. Burger was recognized for his 2 years of service to the board with a resolution to grant special certificate and thanks from each member of the board.
“I appreciate this very much,” Burger said. “I enjoyed working with every one of you… Thank you, all of you, for a very good experience.”
The board chairperson seat had a different occupant for this one meeting as Jack Kleinhardt filled in for the absent Donald David. A new permanent chair is going to be selected next year.
The board’s agenda for the day involved four action items for approval all of which passed with unanimous votes. The first was a budget amendment of $400 for a $399.98 purchase of two desks for the adult probation department.
The second approval regarded purchases for the Emergency Management Department by clearly defining ones made for the department by the Sheriff’s Office. The third approval was a series of five budget adjustments totaling $10,737.96 with none totaling more than $5,000 or less than $560.
The last item was a review of the county’s purchasing policy. The board approved putting that decision off until January so it can take place with the new commissioner lineup in place.
The board added another two approvals during the new business section. The first was a renewal of the Transportation Services Agreement which passed easily. The second was approving the sale of a house at 6782 Carpenter Road received by the county to settle an unpaid loan. According to Clare County Community Development and Senior Services director Lori Ware the house belonged to an elderly woman who passed away and her out of state family left the house to the county to settle the debt. Ware said they already have a buyer lined up for the house and the board passed the measure to allow he to sign for the county in the sale.
During her clerk’s report Pamela Mayfield discussed the veto of House Bill 59 which dealt with gun-free zones. According to Mayfield while the bill would benefited clerks by moving money into their departments and had the backing of Michigan’s clerks association she was not a supporter of it.
“I did not support that,” Mayfield said, noting while defeated for bill could return.
During her treasurer’s report Jenny Beemer-Fritzinger talked about how the bill ending personal property tax passed. While the law comes into effect in January 2014 it is going to phased in over 10 years but the county is going to have to adjust for the loss in income.
“We will have to cut $150,000 just from the general fund,” Beemer-Fritzinger said.
Updating a previous discussion the board again talked again about a bill from Harrison’s Double T Towing regarding storage of an uninsured truck involved in a fatal accident as evidence for a court case. The issues led to a $3,000 bill from the towing company equaling what was paid for the storage of a motorcycle in the same case including the insurance payout. After discussing statues related to the issue the board determined there were probably mistakes by both the Sheriff’s Office and the towing company in the handling of it.
“Someone on our side is probably guilty of not following through,” Commissioner Lynn Grim said.
The board did not make any motions requiring the issue but wanted to make sure the towing company is paid for its storage. The board was leaning toward paying the company $2,500, the exact price the county paid on the motorcycle’s storage.
The ongoing issue with Grant Township regarding an overcharge of $4,467.75 for Sheriff’s Office patrols related to paying for maintenance instead of mileage continued as well. Grim dug through records of meeting minutes and found a file from August 9, 2011 showing the Grant Township board had unanimously approved paying at the rate of $0.55 per mile instead of maintenance. The issue remains a hot topic for now.
The Committee of the Whole meeting was a brief one with only two approvals and some discussion on landfill concerns. In addition to approving the minutes of the Statutory Finance committee meeting the only other items set for final approval at next month’s first meeting were two minor budget adjustments, one totaling $3,591.73 for buying Neighborhood Watch signs and the other $750 to cover the cost of Sheriff’s Office employees doing snowplowing.
Burger’s last action as a board member was a light-hearted one. He recommended anyone interested in politics should see the recently released movie “Lincoln” and described it as accurately portraying the messy nature of the political arena.