By Pat Maurer
Grant Township still hasn’t made a decision on renewing the contract with the Sheriff’s Department for additional road patrol.
Grant shares a full time road patrol officer with Surrey Township, with each township getting 20 hours of additional patrol each week.
Supervisor Dan Dysinger said, “It [the contract] came to our attention in the spring. This line item (road patrol) came up. We have been paying it month to month.”
Dysinger said he and Township Treasurer Tammy Shea had been working on developing a “services agreement” flat-fee contract with the Sheriff’s Department. He said, “In a nutshell it would cost $22,000 for 2012-13 and for the other two years $20,000 each year. Over the life of the contract, the average cost increase would be 4 percent. The board now has the option to send it [the contract] back for changes; to approve it; to disapprove it.”
He added, “It is no secret where I stand on this. My position is we would like to spend some money on our roads because they are in dire need. From my point of view, what we would spend [on additional road patrol] could be put to good use for improvements on gravel roads.”
Last month the board heard a report from Rowe about the needs of the roads in the township. The report estimated that $3.6 million is needed for asphalt projects and $650,000 for improvements to gravel roads. “Board member must weigh what we spend and its maximum benefit for all residents,” he wrote.
Several audience members also questioned the need for the extra patrol contract. One resident said, “I don’t see what we are getting for our money now. We have been doing this for ten years.”
Another questioned, “: I don’t know why we are paying extra for a man when the Sheriff (department) is the protector of the public.”
Shea asked County Commissioner Leonard Strouse, “Do you [the County Commission] approve the sheriff department budget? Is it broken down into how much goes to different things, like the jail or road patrol?”
Dysinger said, according to his figures, “33 percent of the taxes Grant Township pays goes to the Sheriff’s Department and $4.5 million of the county budget goes to the Sheriff Department budget.” He said, “$142,000 of the township taxes go to the Clare County Sheriff’s Department.”
He had a prepared report for the board which outlined the extra road patrol. “From records available it appears Grant Township paid Clare County for extra patrol time each year since 2002.” He said $21,000 was budgeted for 2011-12, while actual expenditures were $18,693.11.
Other questions included whether the contract allowed the township to “choose” the preferred times for the additional patrol, and what type of coverage the township would have without the contract.
Shea said, “Public safety is important to me. I want to know that the extra road patrol is in the township during our busiest times.”
County Clerk Pam Mayfield, who was at the meeting to outline her department’s duties, said, “The law mandates that the sheriff maintain a jail, road patrol is extra. The law doesn’t mandate any road patrol.”
Dysinger commented, “It seems there are things you (the township board) would like to see in this contract. Dan If we are going to agree to this contract, and we are hearing this kind of thing, we should put those things in the contract.”
Township Clerk Sue Wentworth made a motion, “that we reject this contract and send it back and table any motion or further action until the October meeting – and hopefully we will hear back from them [the Sheriff’s Department].”
Other business at the Grant Township meeting September 11 included:
*A report from County Clerk Pam Mayfield on the upcoming November election plans, the ballot issues and her offices and their duties.
*A brief overview on Clare County Sheriff candidate and former CCSD officer Mark McClellan.
*Information on the candidacy of Tara Hovey for Probate Judge.
*Approval of a letter to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
*Approval of monthly bills totaling $26,149.08.