September 30, 2014

Millage failures 'disappointing' to municipal officials

Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — The fallout of the Nov. 6 election, which saw all six of the statewide proposals fail, had three additional victims: millages put forth to the voters by Arenac Township, Deep River Township, and the city of Standish.

All three millages failed by comfortable margins, leaving officials scratching their heads as they start figuring out where to go from here. The townships were each seeking a 1-mill road millage, while Standish was interested in a 2-mill police millage.

Standish’s millage failed by a margin of 210 yes votes to 335 no votes, and City Manager Curt Hillman said it ultimately means the city will be unable to hire a second police officer to patrol the city and answer service calls during the times when Police Chief Mark Christian is off duty.

“We’ll have to stay with just what we have,” Hillman said. “We’ve got the one officer, but that’s all we can do.”

Hillman said the council sought an additional officer in part because of the city’s growth.

“We’re certainly disappointed, but with the numbers I guess people have made it clear what they want,” he added.

Hillman said it is unlikely the city will be able to spare the money in the general fund to hire another officer in the near future, as it continues to improve its finances after the recession.

Deep River Township Clerk Karlia Kroczaleski-Raymond said she does not expect the township to get much work done on the roads after the millage failed with 422 yes votes and 553 no votes.

“There won’t be much getting done to the roads, that’s the bottom line,” she said. “What can you do without the money? We can’t keep taking it out of the general fund.”

Kroczaleski-Raymond said the township spends about $10,000 a year to brine the roads to keep them from getting too dusty, and has been trying to gravel some of the worst roads, but needed the money from the millage to get anything more done.

She believes part of the reason the millage failed is because only some of the roads are in dire need of work, and because the township did not have any specific plans in place for what roads to work on.

“I understand times are hard, and I understand people are hesitant to pay extra,” Kroczaleski-Raymond said. “We had no written plan, so I can see why people would be nervous.”

Kroczaleski-Raymond lost her re-election bid to Ann Marie Borushko, so she was unable to say for sure what the township board will do next, but she anticipates it will try again at its earliest opportunity.

“Maybe the economy will look up a bit,” she said. “I’m disappointed but I can’t blame people. Some people are struggling to pay their bills.”

Officials in Arenac Township echoed her sentiments, as their road millage failed with 158 yes votes and 246 no votes.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Arenac Township Clerk Cindy Halamar said. “I don’t know how we’re going to maintain the roads in the township.”

Halamar said she was glad the township put the issue out to the residents, and understands why people would not want an increase in their taxes.

“Now it’s back to the drawing board,” she said.

Township Supervisor Jim Daly said he does not know how the township will do any work on its roads without the millage.

“We ran it twice. The first time it was defeated by five votes and this time by a lot more,” Daly said. “So its opponents don’t want it.”

He said the township already has difficulty getting the money together to get matching funds from the Arenac County Road Commission on projects, so it is unlikely that the township will be doing much work on the roads for the foreseeable future.

Daly added the issue went up to a vote because people had been complaining about the road conditions in the township.

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