Source: Sherman Publications

Letter to the editor
Councilman ready to sign petition

January 25, 2012

Dear Editor,

A few comments on your Jan. 11 article on Cory Johnston’s initiative to dissolve the City of Clarkston (“New Year, New Effort to Dissolve Clarkston”).

It is a legitimate question to ask what the city’s taxpayers are getting for the extra tax burden. That is why I will sign Cory’s petition. This deserves a public airing and a vote by the city residents. My disposition now is to vote against dissolution in order to maintain the city’s local control over its historic district and zoning, but I will listen to the dissolutionists’ arguments.

I have an alternative proposal that would preserve local control over some things but eliminate the duplicative layer of city government that Clarkston residents now pay more for: A negotiated consolidation—approved by the voters—in which the former Clarkston (or perhaps a part of it) is a separate district in the consolidated municipality with a limited governmental structure that would have authority over zoning and the historic district.

A small board, perhaps five persons, elected by district residents could exercise those powers. That district board could be funded by a small district millage. The remaining governmental functions would be handled in the larger, consolidated municipality and the former Clarkston residents would have the same voting rights as the other residents of the consolidated municipality.

This would eliminate most of the duplicative overhead that we now have in city government and consolidate most government functions into a larger municipality that has the staff and financial means to perform them more efficiently. It would be similar to the village structure that existed before Clarkston became a city, but without the more extensive governmental overhead that a village form of government would require. And it would preserve some measure of local control. Under present state law, this kind of a consolidation doesn’t seem to be possible. I’m working on getting legislation that would permit it.

Richard Bisio

Clarkston