FLINT TWP. — A committee set up to determine if the township should change its name or convert to a city will get down to the nitty-gritty of reaching a decision at its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 2 at the township hall.
At that meeting, the Suggestion Committee, as it is called, will discuss the pros and cons of converting to a city. Then at its next meeting on Feb. 23, it will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a namechange only.
The committee concluded the fact-finding stage of its work, after a public hearing on January 12 designed to gather public opinion.
Only 15 people signed up to comment although Committee Chairman Jerry Preston said he had been prepared to hear from many more. The meeting was set up for two and a half hours of videotaping but only an hour was needed.
Of those who commented, eight spoke against the proposed changes and seven in favor of it.
Patricia Vineyard, a township resident and former Flint homeowner, questioned whether higher costs would be associated with a name change or conversion.
“I want to know how much taxes will be raised if we vote for this,” she said, adding that the everything is going up except her income. Rusty Allen, a resident, spoke of the legal adjustments that would come with a name change.
“I think changing the name of the township is a simplistic answer to a complex question,” he said. He mentioned many area businesses that are failing despite not being associated with the Flint name.
Mort Krasner, a retired business owner, spoke in favor of a name change. He spoke of the negative impact the Flint name has on outside investors. People looking to open a branch of their business write off Flint Township because of the Flint name, he said. Even after being assured that Flint Township does not have Flint water some still question it, he said. A big talking point right now is that it may be 2020 before the Flint water problem is resolved and there could be residue long after that.
“It is time to get away from the negatives and continue the positives that Flint Township has,” he said.
Heather Wheatley also spoke in favor of a name change, citing property values. Many of her neighbors had to rent out rather than sell their homes because of the Flint mailing address, she said. Potential homeowners see the Flint name and go elsewhere, she said.
Preston gave an overview and review of committee proceedings so far. That includes a finding that the post office will not likely change ZIP codes, meaning that the Flint name would remain a part of mailing addresses and on drivers’ licenses.
The group also heard from an insurance agent that a name change or city conversion would not lower insurance rates because they are not based on ZIP codes.
Jan Feighner a committee member, challenged that. She noted that a friend of hers who is the same age but lives in a newer Grand Blanc condo and drives a Cadillac has a lower homeowner’s and auto insurance rate. Similarly, Feighner said when she moved to Flint Township from the City of Flint, her insurance rates went down. Based on those experiences, she is not convinced that ZIP codes do not influence insurance rates.