Source: Sherman Publications

The ‘City’ of Goodrich? Council will consider plan

by David Fleet

December 12, 2012

Since Goodrich incorporated as a village in 1957, there have been three attempts to dissolve its government, about a half dozen recalls of village council members, and most recently a failed detachment vote of three subdivisions to the township.

Now a new chapter that could change the village to a city could be dawning.

The idea of cityhood was discussed at the Monday night meeting as the village council moved forward with a plan to send Village Council President Rick Horton and Council Member Richard Saroli to a meeting with the Michigan Municipal League titled, “Impact of Changing from a Village to a City Workshop.” The April training session will look at factors to consider in deciding whether to seek city status. The similarities and differences in city and village government will also be discussed at the meeting.

“It’s a start,” said Horton. “We need to look into the process and sit down as a council and discuss all the pros and cons of changing to cityhood.”

The process is lengthy and will require a lot of fact finding, added Saroli.

“The village is paying 4 mills to the township—1 mill for police and 1 mill for the fire department—then 2 mills for general fund, what we get from that is debatable,” said Saroli.

“We’ve tried to work with the township on grants, but they just don’t seem to cooperate.. With $3 million in the township coffers, we would at least have 2 mills more that we would have some control over. And as a city, we’d stop this foolishness of detachment— they will come at us again, we may as well be proactive. The village has more benefits provided to the residents than the township does. We have our own DPW to care for our roads. It’s not just Goodrich wanting to make the change—Linden (Mich.) became a city in 1998 and they are very happy with the outcome and Jonesville (Mich.) is currently in the process of becoming a city.”

Jonesville Village Manager Adam Smith will present the information for the Michigan Municipal League regarding becoming a city. Jonesville, located in Hillsdale County about 30 miles north of the Ohio border, is currently in the process of becoming a city. Like Goodrich, property taxes would be reduced as Jonesville residents would no longer pay Fayette Township taxes. Similarly, taxes would no longer be paid to Atlas Township.

Yet before the discussion of cityhood could even begin, opposition to the idea was given.

“Currently each village resident is paying 5.231 mills (to the village for services) plus .75 mills to the township,” wrote Diane Fredericks, village resident, in a statment to The Citizen. “Do you really think you can convert the village for less? Do you believe that we have overpaid Atlas Township when we are paying less than 1 mill to the township?

“Keep in mind the following would be needed to become a city: Full-time clerk, full-time assessor, our own election equipment, our own police and fire department. All this costs the taxpayers. This does not come cheap. What do you think this would do to Atlas Township by eliminating us for the township? Isn’t this the same as what Mr. Saroli, Mr. Horton, Mr. Morey, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Bass were against? Now you are doing the same thing you accused the people who wanted to detach. Now, you are taking revenue away from Atlas Township residents. What’s the difference?”

It’s not the first time the concept of cityhood was been proposed. About 10 years ago the village contemplated the move to cityhood.

Keith Walworth was on the village council when the idea was discussed in about 1999.

“We started to look at it and the costs of becoming a city and it was not the right time,” he said. “But the village was different then. Consider the idea of dissolving the village, in one way or another has come up three times in the last 50 years—the village people feel they are being double taxed. If they look at becoming a city that would be eliminated. The timing is more appropriate now.”

Jakki Sidge was village manager when the concept was proposed.

“The idea was dropped after they could not see the benefits as a city,” said Sidge.