Source: Sherman Publications

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Volunteers for services
City considers plea for more community help

by Amanda Lechel

March 30, 2011

After looking at Clarkston's budget "big picture," Councilman James Brueck and other finance committee members call for more volunteerism.

"What we really need to do is engage the community as to how we can best go about that," Brueck said. "I think it's beyond the finance committee, maybe beyond the council to really be able to solve that issue."

The city has about $425,000 out of $830,000 not tied up in police, fire, and library contracts with Independence Township. Of that, about $125,000 is spent on services such as greens keeping and snow plowing, he said.

"It didn't pass the sniff test of approval," he said. "It seems like we're spending a lot of money to provide services."

Residents in the audience agreed.

"Volunteerism is the answer," said Don Frayer. "When I was younger and healthier I talked to Art (Pappas, former city manager/clerk/treasurer). I said the community this size has got to use the volunteer side of the community. You can't just possibly fund everything you'd like to do."

He was told by city insurance wouldn't cover volunteers. Frayer asked if a "volunteer waiver" could be used.

Councilman Steve Hargis agreed they shouldn't let "insurance stand in the way."

"I know it's a fear most of us have and it's real, but somehow we have to get beyond this," Hargis said. "If that's the thing that keeps us from working together as a community than shame on us."

Resident Eric Haven said the city should publicize a list of things it needs done.

"It's the spirit of the people that make all the difference in a community. There is a paradigm shift in this country and I think that hard times are good in a way," Haven said "We've gotten too used to living on luxury and that's not real, and I think we need to rediscover what the spirit of America is all about."

Mayor Joe Luginski agreed it was a great idea, but doesn't feel comfortable until they have more answers concerning insurance liability.

"I don't want to put us in jeopardy," Luginski said.

City Manager Dennis Ritter will follow up with the insurance company concerning liability and "volunteer waiver" and report back to the council at the next meeting.