Committee mulls township name change vs. becoming a city

FLINT TWP. — Would changing the township’s name impact zip codes and mailing addresses? What about insurance rates?

Those questions and more are on the agenda to be answered at the Dec. 8 meeting of a committee established in September to explore changing the township’s name, converting to a city or leaving things as they are.

The group has officially named itself the Suggestion Committee to avoid giving the impression that a township name change is a foregone conclusion.

Now in an initial phase of fact gathering, the committee last week discussed legal procedures for name change or city-hood options. Township Attorney Peter Goodstein was present to answer questions. He said tax and millage rates would be unaffected unless residents voted otherwise but a city, with voter approval, can levy more taxes than a township.

Goodstein also answered questions about city income tax, boundary line changes and annexation attempts. Some questions arose about a city’s boundaries being contiguous, Goodstein said the argument could be made to the Boundary Commission that despite converting to a city, if that happens, the township would not change its current boundaries and so should remain intact.

He also said the county board of commissioners, not the state legislature, has final say on the township’s proposed name change or conversion.

He also said the Flint is one of few cities that levies an income tax which likely means Flint Township-cum-city would not have one.

Jerry Preston, Suggestion Committee chairman, said the process to become a city could take up to three years. The timetable for a name change only is uncertain but believed to be much shorter.

Fact gathering will continue for the next two meetings. Representatives from the post office and insurance agents have been invited to the next meeting to answer questions about the impact on mailing addresses and insurance rates, Preston said.

A Public Hearing is set for the January 12 meeting at which the committee is encouraging attendance by all stakeholders – residents, business owners and others — to voice concerns and opinions.

They especially hope to get input from more business owners based on comments from some business owners that they have been negatively impacted by the stigma attached to the Flint name.

Kevin Stiff, owner of the Dive Shop on Corunna Road, who advocated forming a committee to consider the name change, said his business has been hurt by the Flint mailing address.

Most people are afraid of the name change because of concerns about costs, he said.

“I think the cost of not changing the name will be a larger cost,” he said. Committee members also suggested they would like to hear from real estate agents. But the public hearing, and all meetings of the committee are open to the public. All of them are held at 6 p.m. on designated Thursdays at the township offices, 1490 S. Dye Road.

In February, after the fact-gathering phase, the committee plans to get down to the business of weighing the options. The February 2 meeting will be devoted to discussing the pros and cons of converting to a city. The February 23 meeting will further explore the name change option.

The committee is looking at reaching a decision by March. Its March 2 meeting is slated to review a draft of the committee’s ultimate recommendation to the township board. Approval of the final draft of that recommendation is set for March 30.

The committee’s recommendation then goes to the township board of trustees for its consideration. It would be up to the township board to place the matter before voters, if it comes to that.

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