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You’ll be glad you did! * MILL POND REALTY * SHORELINE REALTORS * COLDWELL BANKER WOODLAND SCHMIDT * GREENRIDGE REALTY * SHORE SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY * FIVE STAR REALTY-LAKESHORE Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid Saugatuck MI Permit No. 30 CURRENT RESIDENT THE LOCAL OBSERVER WE BRING YOU THE NEWS SERVING June 10, 2016 Vol. 14 FREE SAUGATUCK * DOUGLAS * SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP * LAKETOWN TOWNSHIP * FENNVILLE * GLENN * GANGES TOWNSHIP * HAMILTON * HOLLAND * SOUTH HAVEN No. 24 Saugatuck Township Supervisor Pay Hot Topic At Recent Budget Hearing Efrain Sandoval Correspondent As Saugatuck Township approved its budget and the November General Election cam-paign is underway, more people— including other residents and candi-dates to the position—have joined the heated debate over whether or not the person acting as Saugatuck Township supervisor ought to be compensated $17,000-plus a year for that position. The quarrel was played out at last Wednesday’s Saugatuck Township Board meeting, as the board held its 2016-17 budget hear-ing, with a total requested budget at $741,192. The supervisor salary was “open for debate,” said Saugatuck Trustee Roy McIlwaine during the budget hearing. Saugatuck Township Clerk Brad Rudich concurred and proposed a $100 per diem (per meeting) pay-ment for the job instead of the cur-rent salary, but he and McIIwaine were out-voted by colleagues on a motion proposing that very action following heated discussion. “Let’s reset it to zero—the supervisor duty has changed dramati-cally,” said McIIwaine. Current Saugatuck Township Supervisor Bill Wester, who wouldn’t have been affected by any change either way because he is not seeking re-election for his expired term in November, took umbrage at the suggestion. Turning to colleague Saugatuck Township Clerk Lori Babinski for her approval and confir-mation, Wester noted, “How many days of the week during the McClendon thing (referring to past years of long legal wrangling between the township and the late natural gas magnate Aubrey McClendon) was I here in the township office. I would say four, five days.” “But that has changed, Bill,” responded McIIwaine. “My feeling is that if things change where the township faces another (big) law-suit, now we have a full-time manager to get involved.” McIIwaine was referring to the township’s hiring of its first man-ager, Phil Quade, back in January 2001, arguing the manager now han-dles many of the responsibilities the supervisor did in the past. It is an argument Saugatuck Township resident Cheryl Giller has previously shared in her May 23 letter to the township board. However, since then other residents have come forth in support of the salaried position. For those calling for a change, the compensation is too much for too little work—a position with a role that changed when it hired a township manager 15 years ago, but the salary remained the same although there was less administrative responsibility. Those arguing against any reduction to the annual salary say the township can attract quality staff and board members to operate the town-ship with the current—or even high-er—compensation. Their arguments also partly hinge on timing: they say it is the wrong time because it is in the middle of the campaign season and it would be unfair to make any changes to the supervisor’s role, including salary, at this moment for those three candi-dates that have already filed their peti-tion (paperwork was due April 19) vying for the Saugatuck Township Supervisor seat. The only contested seat for the township board is that of supervi-sor, and Wester is not one of them. The three candidates for supervisor includes current Saugatuck Township Board Member Jon Phillips, Republican; current town-ship liaison to the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority Jon Helmrich, Democrat; and Randy Brink, Republican. “The timing (to discuss the supervisor salary) seems very spuri-ous,” noted Helmrich, present at the meeting. He was joined by other pro-ponents of the salary, including town-ship resident James Cook. “The Saugatuck Township Board is weighing the idea of reduc-ing the salary of the township super-visor. As a taxpayer I appreciate fiscal responsibility, but I also know you don’t attract good people by under-paying them,” Cook wrote in a June 1 letter to the township board, also reit-erating his points at the meeting last Wednesday. “The supervisor is an important role; largely defined by the office holder. Why would we want to minimize the appeal of any township position when we should be seeking the best leadership we can get?” Douglas Not Increasing Tax Levy, Councilwoman Greenwood Says Efrain Sandoval Correspondent At its Monday meeting, Douglas City Council held a public hearing on its proposed fiscal year 2016-17 budget, with expected rev-enues and expenditures equaling $3 million. Wanting to clear any mis-understanding for constituents, Douglas City Council Member Lisa Greenwood noted, “We are not increasing the tax levy. It will remain the same since 2005 (at 13.0818 mills). It’s just that we are required by law to have a public notice about the budget.” The public communication for the budget hearing includes a notice that the property tax millage rate to be proposed is being levied to support the proposed budget. “As a city, he have kept our tax rate in sync with the good and the bad without having a negative impact. We are trying to facilitate and do what is best for our tax rate,” Douglas City Treasurer Robert Drexler told council. The projected $3 million budget constitutes a more than $200,000 general fund increase from last year. “There are two main factors for that: the city's tax revenue is up $80,000 from last year and the city will be receiving an additional $130,000 from Saugatuck City for their portion of the police pension payment we are going to make,” said Drexler. That additional money towards the unfunded portion of the police pension expenses (MERS) accounts for $260,000 of the budget expenses, which Drexler says will be saving the city, in the long run, $25,000 annually. Other items the city is budgeting for includes anticipated Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority projects, Beery Field improvements, and $26,000 for an initial public marina study. The city is also budgeting for various 2016 road improvement projects total-ing an esti-mated $110,000, mostly for mill and overlay work Bill LeFevere on portions of Chestnut, Water and Center streets. The next leg of the Beach to Bayou Trail is expected to be complet-ed as well, as the Allegan County Drain Commission finishes the Warnock Drain along Center Street. The drain passes beneath Center Street onto the West Shore Golf Course property, a project that offi-cials say grants the city an opportuni-ty to reduce some of the construction and grading costs. Following that project, the city will next be looking to finish the portion of the Blue Star Trail that runs along the Blue Star Highway, noted Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere.