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Officials still see need for cityhood

February 08, 2012 - When disussing the dissolution of the City of the Village of Clarkston, City Councilman Richard Bisio and Mayor Joe Luginski stand for local control.

"That, I think, is the bottom line," Bisio said. "Do we want, as Clarkston residents, to control what's going to happen to our downtown area, our historic district, or do we want Independence Township to control it?"

Bisio is not confident in the township's "abilities and sensitivity to the needs of Clarkston." Luginski agreed and called it a "slippery slope." His important issues are preserve, protect, and progress.

"I think the three can live together, but you have to do it in the right manner," he said. "The reasons we became a city 20 years ago are still very valid today. To protect the village, protect the historic district and the zoning we have."

They would also lose the city's Department of Public Works.

"Our DPW guys are out on a moment's notice, plowing all of our streets, parking lots, and subdivisions. You're not going to get that with any other entity," he said. "There are services we do provide that go above and beyond the zoning and the historic district that are important."

One of Cory Johnston's main arguments is the city pays 65 percent more in taxes than the township. Bisio said nobody should think they would get a 65 percent reduction in taxes if they moved out of the city.

"Mathematically you can look at the operating millage for Clarkston versus the operating millage for the township. Add up police, fire, library, safety path and administrative millage, the difference is about five mills," Bisio said "For a house that's worth $200,000 and a taxable value of $100,000, that's $500."

Luginski said numbers can be slanted. He is still working to firm up the numbers, but believes the difference is as little as five percent, a few hundred dollars a year for most.

"You break that down by month and by day, it's couple dollars a week. What does that get you? It preserves what we are, what we have been for 180 years and what we want to continue to be," he said. "That's huge."

Bisio said they have a voice regarding services offered by Independence Township.

"Indirectly we get to vote on this because we vote for the representatives on city council, which approves contracts," he said. "Those contracts are not written in stone, they are renegotiated."

Luginski said many communities share services, which is something the state promotes.

"We were maybe ahead of the curve for a little bit on that, but it still comes down to the numbers," he said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be a very minimal dollar amount per year, per month, per week, per day. It's going to come down to what is acceptable as a resident to protect what we have, protect our historic district."

For Luginski, staying a city is a "no-brainer."

"This should be a moot issue, but it's not so we're going to deal with it and resolve it," he said.

Bisio agrees being a city is worth the extra taxes and "nobody has convinced him otherwise yet." However, it's a good discussion to have.

"I think it's worthwhile having the discussion and emphasizing why we are a city and what we can do as a city," he said. "That should guide us in going forward."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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