Presenting a petition with 70 signatures supporting him, John Urquhart urged the Grant Township Board to continue a contract with the Clare County Sheriff’s Department for extra road patrol. He made the request during the first Public Comment period on the meeting agenda.
Grant Township shares a full-time road patrol officer with Surrey Township. Deputy Kevin Rolland spends 20 hours a week in Grant and 20 hours in Surrey Township.
Fellow township resident Doug Dysinger disagreed that the CCSD contract should continue, citing a petition against the $25,000 annual cost with 77 signatures on it.
Urquhart responded, “That 20 hours of road patrol costs us 2.8 percent of the total budget, that’s about 35 cents each per week. It is money as well spent as could be and makes the township a safe place to live in.
Dysinger countered that the $100,000 spent over four years should be used for road maintenance in the township. “It seems like this is duplication. We are already paying for law protection in our county taxes.
Later on in the meeting, Urquhart responded saying, “Yeah $100,000 is a lot of money, but remember it is only about 35 cents per week. We don’t have a lot of crime, meth labs or speeding that you find in other places.”
Dysinger said he liked the additional coverage too. “What would it take so the same coverage could be countywide?”
Supervisor Dan Dysinger said, “This was a difficult budget to develop. We did it both ways. I can get an answer for you but it is outside what we are discussing now.”
Township Treasurer Tammy Shea said, “We don’t just support the Sheriff’s Department. When I got involved with the township we paid 75 percent of the cost for roads and the Road Commission paid 25 percent. Now we have to pay 100 percent.”
When the agenda item, a resolution concerning the CCSD contract came up for discussion, Dysinger what the law enforcement coverage would be if the contract was not approved.
Sheriff John Wilson, who also attended the regular meeting Tuesday evening, said without the contract the coverage would be “basically pass-through and on demand.” He said with their budget constraints, there would be one deputy to cover the eight southern townships and one to cover the northern eight townships. This [contract] not only helps the township, but the county as well,” Wilson added.
Trustee Marge Bell said she supports the additional road patrol coverage. “I haven’t seen the State Police where we live in two or three weeks, but I see our deputy frequently.”
The resolution to continue the contract with the Sheriff’s Department and work out details of the contract with the CCSD was narrowly approved 3-2 with Bell, Shea and Clerk Sue Wentworth voting yes and Supervisor Dan Dysinger and Trustee Dick Zinzer voting no.
At the second Public Comment time, Clare County Road Commissioner Dick Haynak said he thought keeping the road patrol contract was a good decision. “This township has always been really supportive,” he said. “$100,000 towards the roads would be welcome, but it would only pay for about ¾ of a mile of a thin overlay. It is a small amount for road funding.”
The board, and audience, had another lengthy discussion on a different matter Tuesday evening.
The board voted 4-1 to budget $5,000 towards treatment at Five Lakes for the milfoil (weed) problem.
Once commonly sold as an aquarium plant, Eurasian watermilfoil, commonly called milfoil, originates from Europe and Asia, but was introduced to North America many years ago and is now found over much of the United States. Milfoil forms very dense mats of vegetation on the surface of the water. These mats interfere with recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, and boating. Once milfoil becomes well-established within a water body, it is difficult or impossible to remove.
Supervisor Dysinger said the board had discussed contributing $5,000 to treat about ten acres near the public boat launch.
Dave Southworth, president of the Five Lakes Association was at the Grant Township in December and again in January to request that the township help with the expensive treatment needed to slow the spread of the weed.
He was at Tuesday’s meeting to explain what the Association is doing about the problem. He said close to 40 percent of the lake is infested with the weeds and they have approved a special assessment to pay for “robust treatment” this year that will destroy the plant and roots and will be raising the Association dues.
Shea said she is opposed to helping financially without a long-term plan to deal with the problem.
Southworth said the Association has been working on this for several months and that the dues will be increased to help fund future treatments at the lake.
She said the Special Assessment of property owners around the lake should be for more than one year. She said she is concerned that the Association will be back “asking for more money.”
Association member Frank Oles said “We can’t give you a guarantee. We have been hearing about a new ‘beast,’ mussels in the Great Lakes. So far they haven’t been found in smaller lakes. There’s just no guarantee we won’t be back in three to five years.”
Bell said, “In past years the board helped to support weed control at Five Lakes. It is only in recent years that we haven’t contributed funds. In 2004-05 we gave $5,000. In 2005-06 we contributed $4,500.”
Supervisor Dysinger said, “We stopped because we discovered that the way we were contributing was not legal, so we stopped. The Township attorney has said this method – paying the vendor – is legal.”
Southworth said the treatment they are planning to use, a systematic chemical, kills the milfoil roots and was used very successfully in Houghton Lake by the same firm they have contracted with. “I hope we will be the mirror image of Houghton Lake,” he said. “The dues increase we are looking at would be earmarked for weed control.”
Dysinger said, “What Township Board members need to remember is if what they are voting on is in the best interest of the township as a whole by protecting our tax base.”
He said “This proposal is a resolution agreement for special funding not to exceed $5,000 to help with treatment and pay costs to treat the area at the public boat launch. If we agree to pay the vendor, we expect reports. This is an investment to protect the values of township property.”
The resolution to help fund the weed treatment at Five Lakes was approved 4-1 with Shea voting no.
Other business at the meeting Tuesday evening included:
The next Grant Township meeting will be held on May 8 at 7:30 p.m.