SWARTZ CREEK — At Monday’s City Council meeting a resolution was passed to seek grant money from the Michigan Municipal League for planning dollars to benefit the study of possible shared services with Mundy Township and Flint Township.
Consolidating services like police and fire can keep what City Manager Paul Bueche terms “essential services” intact, even with the declining revenue of local communities.
Swartz Creek would be pledging a possible $25,000 into the study, which is the highest total according to each of the three lawyers involved with drafting the paperwork, for a united amount of no more than $75,000.
Depending on the amount of grant money that is received, the amount could turn out to be significantly lower than expected. The city hopes the grant provides half of the dollar amount per municipality.
“My opinion is it doesn’t matter if it’s $6,000 or $10,000. We need to do this, at least to know what our options are,” said Bueche.
Councilman Curtis Porath had some concerns regarding an “escape clause” not being in the paperwork. He was worried about the possible implications if one or both townships opted out at some point.
To the latter worry, Mayor Richard Abrams said., “It’s shared services,” emphasizing the necessity for more than one for it to even go into affect.
“You need to read between the lines,” said Porath, who worried that things because of poor wording could result in regret or loss of funds.
“If there are two or five communities involved, will the cost change?” he asked Bueche.
Bueche said yes and it would be cheaper with more communities to be involved, as it was a sliding scale, but also let the council know the more communities involved, the messier the plan could become.
Councilwoman Rae Lynn Hicks had many positive words about alliances and their “sphere of influence.” She also elaborated on the topic with food for thought for the board by stating,
“ This board by and large doesn’t know members on the other boards. Are we moving too quick on this?” she asked.
Bueche said, “ I don’t know. We are having a hard enough time with three now”
He said Clayton Township was interested and “Burton is making some noise.”
The board decided to go ahead with the resolution, as they were assured by Bueche that it was not a contract or binding agreement at this point in time. Any confusion, tweaking, or even opting out are all viable options in the near future.
With that being stated, Abrams said, “Even though this is a little vague and dizzy, there are other steps. I support this,” and his board followed suit with their trust in the resolution.
The resolution was originally discussed with an included presentation by Plante Moran at a joint meeting held at the Mundy Township Hall on July 20, but was postponed until individual communities could discuss it at their own halls, with their own residents present.
Audience member Tommy Butler, who attended the Mundy Township meeting, offered his support to the board.
“It was the best presentation of a plan I’ve ever seen. If you can’t do it with that plan, it can’t be done,” he said.
Bueche said he was very pleased with how the meeting with the surrounding townships went as well and Mayor Pro Tem Krueger thanked Butler for his encouragement.
Mundy Township, according to Bueche was going over the resolution at their Monday meeting as well. Flint Township are planning to discuss the same topic on Aug. 1.
Councilman C. David Hurt said, “ To me this is an easy decision. We need to do something and we need to do it soon. Progress cannot be fast enough.”