August 20, 2019

Whitney Twp. Board votes to withhold cemetery payments


WHITNEY TWP. — Whitney Township has decided to withhold quarterly payments toward the Sims-Whitney Cemetery, which it jointly owns with Sims Township, due to an alleged lack of communication and cooperation from Sims Township.

For the past 60 years, Sims and Whitney townships, as equal partners, have been running both the cemetery, which is located in Sims Township, and the transfer station, which is located in Whitney Township, according to Whitney Township Clerk Kimberly Anderson.

Each year, both townships contribute $9,500 toward the cemetery, Anderson said.

Throughout the partnership, there have always been differences in opinion, Anderson said, but the two townships have always been able to get past them and jointly operate the cemetery shared between the two, until recently.

Over the course of the last year and a half, Anderson alleges Sims has acted on items regarding the cemetery despite the items being voted down by the joint board, composed of the five members from both townships’ boards, and spent money without consulting Whitney Township.

Additionally, she alleges that Sims has failed to provide proper or complete financial information and accounting reports to its partner.

Due to the lack of communication regarding cemetery expenses, the Whitney Township Board has no idea how its budgeted contributions are lining up against actual expenses, Anderson said, which is why it has voted to withhold its share of the funds provided.

“We don’t want to keep giving them our taxpayers’ dollars when we are not getting any input on what is taking place, and that’s basically what it boils down to,” Anderson said. “They're telling us, because that cemetery is in their township, that they can do whatever they want and they don’t need our input, which is untrue.”

Sims Township Supervisor Robert Mackie was contacted but said he had no comment regarding the situation.

Anderson said the Whitney Board has made several attempts to reach an understanding with Sims but its board is unwilling to cooperate.

Whitney Township has suggested that the joint board function similarly to the two townships’ shared water authority, which would mean including articles of incorporation or bylaws and cutting down the joint board to six members, two from each township as well as one alternate from each township, as a means to alleviate the disputes and streamline the overall process, Anderson said.

She said, however, Sims Township has been unwilling to discuss any kind of reorganization.

“(The joint board) has worked but it has become cumbersome,” Anderson said. “It is hard to get things done because we don't all agree on how to do things. We can agree on how to do some stuff, but when it comes to disagreements, it’s like their way or the highway basically.”

Anderson said the board feels it is its obligation to its taxpayers to withhold payments toward the cemetery until the two townships reach a mutual understanding over how the shared property should be managed.

“I hate the fact that this is happening because we want to have a good working relationship with Sims Township,” Anderson said. “We want to get along but we can’t continue to give our money to them if they’re not going to listen to our input.”


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