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No increase for safety path millage



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Tammie Heazlit addresses the board. (click for larger version)
September 28, 2011 - The people spoke and the Independence Township board listened – no safety-path tax increase this year.

Independence Township Board voted unanimously, Sept. 20, to hold the millage at the current .2023 mills, which will levy $272,513 in the next year.

That suits resident Rae LuAllen.

"The spending is out of control – you need to bring it back in," LuAllen said. "We're not the Taj Mahal even though that's what you want to live in. We don't have that kind of money flowing into this township."

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Resident Tammie Heazlit, who rode her bike to the meeting, said she uses the safety paths but was against raising the millage.

The path is not "cost effective" because it's made of concrete instead of asphalt, which is cheaper, Heazlit said.

"Asphalt is user friendly," she said. "You're putting in a sidewalk where there are cracks, crevices. It is a trip hazard that's dangerous."

Trustee Neil Wallace favored increasing the millage, making a motion to increase it to .2773. The motion, which was defeated 4-2, would have collected $373,544.40, $101,000 more than the current millage.

"I don't think we should be leaving it where it is because all we can do is maintain and run off the fund balance," said Wallace, who voted for the increase along with Trustee David Lohmeier.

"We have several sections of this township where it would be almost a great thing," Lohmeier said. "It's also a waste of the money you've collected if it's just sitting there and you just need a little more to make it a productive amount."

Treasurer Curt Carson opposed the increase because of the economy.

"In all indications I am seeing and reading out there, things are not going to be improving anytime soon," Carson said.

Clerk Barbara Pallotta agreed.

"I think we need another year to stabilize our economy before I can make a decision about raising our taxes," she said.

Trustee Mark Petterson said if times we're better, he'd support the increase.

"Five dollars or 50 dollars is probably not going to break anybody," Petterson said. "But I'm not going to put anybody under that extra pressure where they have to come up with that extra money for safety path that chances are none of them will walk on anyway."

"The need is definitely there, but it's the financial situation we're playing with," said Trustee Larry Rosso.

Wallace said the paths lend real value to the community.

"It really is the prudent thing to do to adjust this millage," he said. "We are right on the cusp of not being able to raise enough money to maintain these paths."

Heazlit said the township can save money on consultants by hiring locally.

Clarkston resident Cory Johnston, who also uses the paths regularly, said the problem is "no planning beyond the placement of the path."

"If they aren't welcoming, if they aren't safe, and if they don't provide facilities for people to use they're not going to get used and at that point you have to wonder why you're putting the money into it," he said. "I recommend you look at making the paths you have better."

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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