My Letter to the Editor ran today in the Argus Press. I was hoping for Saturday, but will take what I can get! Below please find the editorial along “with bonus features” including interactive links to other articles and additional commentary. Please note that I’m limited to 400 words in a letter to the editor, so this is a great place to further explain things.
Shiawassee County officials continue to hide from the public, holding their meetings during the day, avoiding questions, and refusing to take a position on tough issues. The people of Shiawassee County deserve better! Mlive reports that we may just be the only county in the state without road patrol, yet no real efforts are being made to fix the issue. We have around 8 million dollars in the DTRF yet choose to hoard it instead of putting cops on the road.
About the DTRF: If you’re new the the site the basic idea behind the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund is that the county takes it’s Delinquent property taxes, sells them to a collection company, and gets a portion of that money back. There are time periods where this account dips down by around 4 million until those funds are collected. However, as you can see here, the county averages about 765,000/year in profit from this account. In other words this account has about 4 million dollars more in it than the county will ever need. Some counties don’t have any money in this account at all-they just take out a loan until the delinquent taxes are collected and make slightly less in profit.
Two weeks ago, I sent a question to our commissioners and told them that their responses would be posted on both the saveourpolice website and our local papers. This made some commissioners really uncomfortable. The question was “would you support immediately re-opening the budget to find money to partially fund our road patrol?” After I few emails and phone calls, I managed to get all of the commissioners to respond. Here’s what they said:
This is where you would expect me to rip into Horvath, but I’m going to instead take the high road and hope he will actually work with me next time.
Holzhausen-Yes, but we need to save some contingency money for other things.
I agree with this statement, but would add that we also have a Fund Balance (savings account) that we can use for emergencies.
Plowman-Yes, but we need more revenue (taxes)
When we’re spending 2.6 million dollars more than a similar sized county on public safety and courts, do we really need more taxes? Not as long as we’re paying for commissioners healthcare and pensions we don’t.
Bartz-No, “There is no support for half a road patrol.”…”There is not enough money to run road patrol safely” (This is myth is busted on the website.)
Here is the full text of what he sent me: “There is no support for half a road patrol. Structurally it wont work. safety was and is top priority for our employees. There is not enough money to run road patrol safely”
I responded with this.
A recent article on saveourpolice.wordpress.com showed that in 2014 our county paid 2.6 million dollars MORE on courts and public safety than a similarly sized county. That county still has a road patrol, and we don’t. Why are costs so much higher here? Why do the taxpayers of Montcalm county get a road patrol and we don’t?
We need to start holding our elected officials accountable. They work for us, and we deserve to know their opinions. This applies to all elected officials-not just the commissioners. We must demand to know what the treasurer, clerk, drain commissioner, judges, and everyone else are willing to give up so that we can get cops on the road. If they don’t, we will make it our mission to keep them from being re-elected.
Actions speak louder than words! I ask that the county commission make a motion to immediately re-open the budget to find money to get cops on the road NOW. If you fail to do this, the public will know. If you oppose or obstruct this, the public will know. Please do the right thing and save our public safety!