May elections are quickly approaching. Voters in Clearwater Township are weighing their options.
Township leaders are proposing two millages: A Constable Millage and a Road Millage. The Constable Millage would establish a .50 mill for the township to create a position for a law enforcement officer. The other proposal would raise the current road millage from one to two mills for the final year in 2023. Township Supervisor Tom Backers says the two proposals are worth it.
“For me, my property, I figure it’s probably about $220 a year between the two millages. I would gladly pay that to continue the progress on our local roads and to provide a local peace officer,” Backers says.
Backers admits he doesn’t want higher taxes, but with rising costs and roads deteriorating there isn’t much of a choice.
“We were going to do the north and south from Valley Road and the cost increase from November to March was 30% for the asphalt which meant we had to basically delete [it] from our paving plan this summer,” Backers explains.
He says people in Clearwater Township have to look out for themselves. He says they can’t wait for the state to step in and help them
“There’s infrastructure the state’s going to get, but how much we’ll actually see maybe minuscule at best and probably a year or two down the road. So we have to take care of ourselves,” Backers states.
The Constable Millage is not widely agreed on as signs scattered throughout the township tell voters to vote no on the proposal. Backers says the Township has struggled with long response times.
“The response to Clearwater for breaking an entering, reckless driving, domestic disturbances, that type of thing. Either go unanswered or somebody is 40 minutes late,” Backers admits.
The Township has struggled with speeders as well as maintenance staff finding used needles at parks. The Township’s Maintenance Supervisor, John Bielski, says the people of Clearwater need help.
“The needles have been showing up a lot this year. Which is a real hazard for my employees, as well as, the children that are playing at the parks that we find them in,” Bielski says.
The Township currently pays the Kalkaska Sheriff’s Office $20,000 a year for an extra 9.5 hours a week for a deputy to patrol Clearwater. Additionally, the Township would have to pay $100,000 a year to have a deputy stationed in Clearwater. The proposed constable millage would instead cost the township around $70,000 in the first year.
“I would expect the millage to either be reduced or eliminated completely depending on what we find as actual revenues generated by our own constable,” Backers explains. “Because that money currently goes to the county and according to state law, 33 percent of it is ours if we institute our own peace officer and he writes the tickets.”
While not everyone is on the same page, Backers says the proposals will make Clearwater a safe, better place to live.
“I’m not a big fan of taxes too, you know, just like everyone else is. On the other hand you can see the results here,” Backers says.
The election is coming up Tuesday, May 3.