The May elections are fast approaching. Clearwater Township voters are weighing their options.
The leaders of the canton propose two miles: one mile of police and one mile of road. Constable Millage would establish a .50 mill for the township to create a law enforcement officer position. The other proposal would increase the current road mileage from one to two mills for the final year in 2023. Township supervisor Tom Backers says both proposals are worth it.
“For me, my property, I think it’s probably about $220 a year between the two mileages. I would be happy to pay this to continue 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 deteriorating roads, there isn’t much choice.
“We were going to do Valley Road north and south and the cost increase from November to March was 30% for asphalt which meant we basically had to remove [it] of our paving plan this summer,” explains Backers.
He says the people of Clearwater Township need to watch out for themselves. He says they can’t wait for the state to step in and help them
“There’s infrastructure that the state is going to get, but how much we’ll see maybe tiny at best and probably a year or two down the road. So we have to take care of ourselves,” Backers says.
Constable Millage is not widely accepted, as signs scattered throughout the township instruct voters to vote no on the proposal. Backers says the township has struggled with long response times.
“The response to Clearwater for breaking and entering, reckless driving, domestic disturbances, that sort of thing. Either you go unanswered or someone is 40 minutes late,” admits Backers.
The township has struggled with speeders as well as maintenance staff to find used needles in the parks. Township maintenance supervisor John Bielski says Clearwater residents need help.
“The needles have appeared a lot this year. Which is a real danger to my employees, as well as the children playing in the parks where we find them,” Bielski says.
The township currently pays the Kalkaska Sheriff’s Office $20,000 per year for an additional 9.5 hours per week for a deputy to patrol Clearwater. In addition, the township would have to pay $100,000 a year to have a deputy stationed in Clearwater. Instead, the proposed constant mileage would cost the township about $70,000 in the first year.
“I would expect mileage to be reduced or eliminated entirely based on what we find as actual revenue generated from our own constable,” says Backers. “Because that money is currently going to the county and by state law, 33% of it is ours if we institute our own peace officer and he writes the tickets.”
Although not everyone is on the same page, Backers says the proposals will make Clearwater a safer and better place to live.
“I’m also not a big fan of taxes, you know, like everyone else. On the other hand, you can see the results here,” says Backers.
The elections are approaching on Tuesday, May 3.