Source: Sherman Publications

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Candidates support cityhood

by Andrea Beaudoin

October 23, 2013

Clarkston has been a city since 1992, and all five candidates running for City Council want to keep it that way.

"I'm not aware of efforts at dissolution since the failed petition drive to have the question placed on the November 2012 ballot," said Richard Bisio. "The main motivating factor in that campaign was the tax savings city property owners would realize if the city were dissolved and merged into Independence Township."

It is still appropriate to ask whether there is some alternative to address the tax disparity between the city and township, he added

"The overhead of operating a separate city government is spread among fewer taxpayers in the city as compared to the township, resulting in a higher operating millage for city residents," he said.

The state should pass legislation to allow negotiated consolidation of government functions to allow the township to take over many functions and preserve local control by a smaller city government over functions such as zoning and the historic district," he continued.

"Although that proposal found little interest in the past, I believe it would be a way to reduce the tax burden on city residents while preserving the more important aspects of local control," said Bisio.

Eric Haven said reversing what has been gained over the past 20 years would be a mistake.

"I believe Clarkston residents live here because they love what they have here," he said. "Token conversations in the past have not resulted in any significant movement to again immerse us in the township."

Thomas Hunter is strongly opposed to the concept of dissolving the city.

"Because of the overwhelmingly greater population of the township, the city would lose its ability to make decisions to protect its interests if it were merely another part of the township," he said. "As an example, the continued existence of the Historic District could be in question."

David Marsh would prefer to see the City of the Village of Clarkston succeed as it is.

"I enjoy the small town, village feel we have here in Clarkston," said Marsh. "I fear we would lose that when we are no longer able to make decisions for ourselves."

Sharon Catallo has always considered being able to decide what they want to do within their boundaries vitally important.

"Throughout the years people have questioned the need for the village to retain its independence and self-governance," said Catallo.

Catallo added she moved to the village because she like the type of living offered in the area versus living in a rural area or a subdivision.

"If another community absorbed us, it might not share values as we do and Clarkston would stand to risk losing its celebrated identity, and becoming another subdivision within a larger community," she added.

During the drive for cityhood, Village Council said becoming a city would provide more revenue than it will cost.

Over the years, critics said the city should be dissolved into the township, which presently provides many of the city's services like police, fire protection and water and sewer services. Cory Johnston, a former councilman, said city residents pay more taxes than township residents pay.

In August 1992, resident Jon Gaskell initiated a petition drive to have Middle Lake in the township rather than the city.

In 2007, then Trustee Dan Kelly on the Independence Township Board recommended the city merge with the township for cost savings. Councilman Michael Sabol said he believes there is no place for anyone on city council who believes the city should be dissolved into the township.