Clerk disputes opponents attack on her voting record

FLINT TWP. — Two-term Flint Township Clerk Kim Courts, who is seeking re-election, says campaign literature being circulated by her opponent is untruthful.

Alex Clark, who will face Courts in the Aug. 7 primary election, cites six charges he claims illustrate Courts “bad voting record on public safety.”

He said Courts “supported laying off police officers” and “voted for a decrease of police officers and firefighters.”

Courts said back in Jan. 2005, shortly after she was elected to her first term, the board voted 5-2 to lay off officers, based on the recommendation of the supervisor and the controller due to budgetary issues.

Courts said the board later tried to rehire the officers but two had found other jobs.

Clark contends recommendations don’t have to be followed and the board should have sought other revenue sources than layoffs.

Clark’s public safety review does not acknowledge Courts was among the six board members who voted in Aug. 2009 in favor of hiring five entry level police officers, she said.

Courts also voted unanimously with the board in March 2012 to hire three new entry level officers to fill positions vacated by retirements.

Courts said she has never voted to decrease firefighters, though the full-time ranks have been reduced through attrition.

Clark said Courts has voted with the board numerous times not to replace police officers or firefighters lost through attrition.

Clark’s also charges Courts “mislead voters into passing a $600,000 a year police millage,” because funds that were supposed to be added to the police budget were redirected to the general fund, resulting in no gain in police funding.

He could not provide a date for that board action but said his claims are substantiated by minutes from board meetings posted on the township’s website.

Courts said she actively campaigned door to door for passage in 2007 of a 0.5- mill tax but did not mislead voters. The millage was slated to bring in about $566,800 per year through 2016 and be used to increase the police force.

Courts said the millage now brings in only about two-thirds of that amount because of a declining taxpayer base.

Clark also charges Courts “supported wage increases for part-time trustees.”

Courts said said she could not recall the last time part-time trustees received a raise.

Clark cited minutes from the board’s Dec. 3, 2007 meeting when it adopted the 2008 General Fund budget that one trustee opposed because she said it allowed for wage increases and creation of a deputy supervisor position.

Clark also charges Courts “supported the unjust firing of a police officer in 2011” who was later reinstated by an arbitrator.

Courts said a unanimous board decision was made on the recommendation of the Police Chief and the township’s labor attorney. The decision was made in closed session and the charges were not publicly disclosed — so she questions how Clark would know it was “unjust.”

“Yes the arbitrator forced the township to reinstate but there were reasons for that too that I am not going to discuss,” Courts said.

Clark, however, said many other officers had done things far worse than what the officer was fired for. He said the firing “ruined” the officer’s life.

Clark said he got his information “from the source.”’ A lot of what goes on in the township is not kept quiet, he said.

Clark also charges that Courts opposed “full-time board members paying 20 percent of their health care premiums to save money for police and fire departments.”

Not so, Courts said. The board tabled a proposal earlier this month until after the November election.

Courts said she is speaking out because she could not stand by and let what she calls Clark’s “untruths” go unanswered.

Clark said he has pledged to run a clean race based on the issues and what he can do to fix problems in Flint Township

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