CTC submits consolidation petitions
The Citizens for Township Consolidation submitted its petition to consolidate Denton, Lake, Markey and Roscommon Townships to the Roscommon County Clerk’s office on April 9.
CTC Secretary Marilyn Jarvi said in an April 10 telephone interview, the CTC was able to collect the 5% of signatures needed to submit the petition after 37 days of circulation.
A total of 1,393 residents from the four townships signed the petition. She said a total of 10.95% of Denton residents signed the petition, 11.19% of Lake, 10.17% of Markey and 9.5% of Roscommon Township residents signed. She added the average of all four townships was 10.39%.
“We wanted at least 8% on each (township),” Jarvi said.
Now Jarvi said the CTC must wait for the county to respond to the petition. She said “the county is the final voice” as they have to verify the legality of the petition and the signatures.
Jamie Purtell, Roscommon County Clerk/Register of Deeds Chief Deputy/ Supervisor said she hopes to review the petition language and verify the voter’s signatures by the end of the week with County Controller Cheryl Mollard.
“We want to go over the legality,” Purtell said. “We have to look at all of it.”
Jarvi provided the Resorter with a blank copy of the distributed petition. The petition reads as follows: “We, the undersigned qualified and registered electors, residents in the Townships of (Denton) (Lake) (Markey) (Roscommon) Townships, in the County of Roscom- mon, State of Michigan, respectively petition for the consolidation of Denton, Lake, Markey, and Roscommon Townships into one general law township to be known as Houghton Lake Township, and request that the County Board of Commissioners initiate proceedings necessary for such consolidation.”
Jarvi said the CTC is hopeful the petition will be verified without problems and will be on the November ballot.
“Hopefully somebody is not going to snag this down the line,” Jarvi said.
She said once the petition has been verified the next step for the CTC is to begin working on educating the township citizens about where the group will go next.
Jarvi said she wanted to thank the citizens who are in support of the effort, the people who circulated the petitions and the “anonymous” donor who gave money to the CTC for legal fees.
She told the Resorter some of the citizens who signed the petition said “this should have happened long ago.” She added others were concerned about the number of townships for an area that does not have a high population.
“It was exciting to get this done because this is not an easy task,” Jarvi said.
She said the hope is to get all four townships working together as one and “put them in the same direction.”
During the Roscommon County Commissioners meeting on April 11, Lake Township Supervisor Stan Christler and Roscommon Township Supervisor Diane Randall suggested that a public hearing be scheduled to help inform the public on the proposed consolidation.
Commissioner David Russo (District 1) said he agreed that a public hearing should be set to “show the truth of the matter” and so the public has the ability to see “real numbers” when it comes to budgets and cost savings.
Commissioners Marc Milburn (District 4), Chair Bob Schneider (District 3) and Lowell Souder (District 5) all agreed that the public hearing would be the best way to inform the public.
“I believe an informed voter is the best voter,” Milburn said.
While Denton Township Supervisor Craig Cotterman called the consolidation effort “a hot topic” and added “there is so much up in the air it makes me concerned.”
During an April 10 telephone interview, Denton Township Clerk Carol Asher also questioned how the four townships would be affected if the proposal is approved.
Issues such as zoning, buildings, polling places, maintenance, property and tax levies would need to be addressed, she said.
“How do they know they’re going to save money?” she asked of the CTC. “Larger government is not better government.”
While the number of trustees may be reduced, a supervisor, clerk and deputy clerk would still be required, as well as employees, she said, and may result in wage increases because the work load would be larger.
To help address some of the questions, Schneider said he would like to provide the public with an opportunity to become informed and directed Russo to contact the townships and schedule a public hearing as the CTC would like to have the proposal on the November ballot.
The Resorter will provide an update on the date of the public hearing as well as progress the CTC makes regarding the proposed consolidation as information becomes available.