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Interest find on township consolidations
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Nancy Levant



Joined: 29 Jan 2018
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:08 am 
Post subject: Interest find on township consolidations
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Being a new resident on the island and interested in the current township consolidation issue, I discovered the Michigan Townships Association web site (https://www.michigantownships.org/twpcritics.asp), which highlights both positive and negative aspects of township consolidations and also provides cited sources. A section the article titled "Townships in the 21st Century" states:

"Michigan citizens have a strong preference for local control, and to date the arguments that Michigan has too many governments has not gotten much traction. Some of the many arguments against a broad-brush policy to reduce the number of local governments include the following:

Michigan local governments, on average, provide services at less cost than local governments in all but a few other states (see the following Michigan Local Government Performance Measures)

A preponderance of academic research does not support local government consolidations as a cost-reduction strategy (see Bibliography)

Studies of prospective mergers and consolidations sometimes predict savings, but post-merger studies find that promised savings did not materialize, costs actually increased

No relationship has been found between the number of local governments and cost of local government services

Consolidations result in bigger governments with weaker financial stewardship than that of smaller entities

Economies of scale do not exist for most local government services

Bigger bureaucracies offset purported efficiencies

Transition costs exceed initial estimates

“Homogenization” (leveling up) of service levels across larger geographic area raises overall service levels and costs

Volunteerism weak in larger entities

Employees of larger entities expect higher compensation levels

Governing bodies in larger entities require more staffing

Consolidated governments act as monopolies; reduce choice for service mix and taxation rates

Blending disparate millage rates creates winners and losers

Reducing the number of elected governing bodies and public officials “rations democracy” (See attached polling data)

Voters recognize their personal influence on elected officials diminished

Voters do not support the concept of consolidation, are generally even more opposed to losing their own local government

Requires extensive analysis and planning for three-five years

Proponents often focus on entities with small populations that already enjoy lower cost governments

Potential benefits result from unique circumstances

Entities geographically small, existing service area inefficient (law enforcement)

Existing water and/or sewer systems failing or undersized, benefit from reconfiguration and economies of scale if they can be merged

Existing services over staffed in relation to workload
Opportunity for merged services to be more efficiently redeployed (i.e., fire stations relocated"

Like myself, many may not actually understand the nuts and bolts of township consolidation, how it works, and potential consequences as well as potential benefits. As such, please make note of the sources posted at the bottom of the article. I hope this is helpful.
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islandliving



Joined: 21 Nov 2015
Posts: 276
Location: Beaver Island, Michigan

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:50 am 
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Thank you Nancy for some very helpful facts on the consolidation. Information like this is what we need posted.

John McCafferty
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wmarkey



Joined: 01 Mar 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Eagle Hill

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:21 am 
Post subject: Already seen
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Hi Nancy. Welcome to Beaver Island and welcome now to the Forum
The Michigan Township Association report that you cite is thought provoking and should be read by all who are interested in the subject. In fact, there is a link posted to the study in an earlier thread and a printed copy at the library. Most of the information, but not all, seems to support a position opposed to unification and is quite persuasive. There is a context angle, however, that I'd like to point out. The populations of the cities, towns and townships that they studied were, what, five thousand, ten thousand, fifteen thousand and more, while the combined voter turnout of Beaver Island in any election is lucky to reach Five hundred. The scale of the study subjects is vast compared to Beaver Island and that compels me to think about it some more but with that in mind.
An interesting tidbit I found in the part of the study listing the States by rankings nationwide says Michigan is thirty-sixth in the number or amount of governments per population, but is sixteenth in the amount of taxation supporting those governments. Now I am not saying that the study should be treated as gospel, or without flaws, but everyone should read it.
There is another point I would like to make but it is in the form of a question; If the population of Beaver Island is not large enough to support a full time Dentist, how can it be large enough to support two separate bodies of Government?
There are indeed many people who remain undecided or are reluctant to state their position unequivocally and I have no intention of bullying anyone to my position or any other, but I might try love and persuasion. But that's just me.

William A. Markey
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islandliving



Joined: 21 Nov 2015
Posts: 276
Location: Beaver Island, Michigan

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:19 pm 
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Does anyone that has read the Michigan Townships Association article find where it says “ the populations were five thousand, ten thousand , fifteen thousand, and more “ and I am curious how that would affect the study? Shouldn’t it all just go to scale? I would think it would. Also “if the population of Beaver Island is not large enough to support a full time Dentist, how can it be large enough to support two separate bodies of Government?” I may be blind to a lot of things but hasn’t the Island supported two bodies of Government for years and years just fine? Also a don’t see a similarity between a Dentist and our local government?

John McCafferty
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Andy's Grooming Barn



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 176

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:42 pm 
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I reread the article, I think what Bill must have been talking about was the end it has a section "Compared to Other States, Michigan Does Not Have “Too Much” Local Government" then is list the comparison but that wasn't comparing consolidation that was comparing how many local governments from state to state, nothing to do with consolidation comparing so I guess I don't look at that as being relevant. I think what was relevant to our situation was mainly what Nancy posted, thanks for bring this to the attention of the voters and welcome to the island Nancy.
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Nancy Levant



Joined: 29 Jan 2018
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:07 pm 
Post subject: Township consolidation article
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Many thanks to all for the welcome. I am not committed to one side of this issue or the other but still trying to learn as much as possible. Due to the population of the island, it does make sense that two separate governing bodies are unnecessary, but it also makes sense that "separation of powers", which is loosing steam in all levels of government, must be carefully considered as consolidation often comes in the form of appointed vs. elected people as well as outside influences. Equally, all government grant funding, including state grants, comes with a loss of autonomous self-government. Grant funding comes at a price, and once those dollars start to flow, they become harder to resist. As such, I realize this is a very important forthcoming vote. I don't believe this should be a contentious subject but rather a serious consideration of how the island wants its future to proceed. Clearly, money and development are needed. The question is how to most ethically control the future of this unique and amazing place.
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ExIsle



Joined: 24 Feb 2017
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:10 pm 
Post subject: Interest find on township consolidations
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I’m all for saving a buck when I have the data that says so. The argument presented that combining the townships is going to be cheaper is based on a premise with no certain data and most importantly no real plan to back it up. We are asked to make a data driven decision without data. We must take it on faith which provides little certainty that such a venture would be successful.

1. Part of the premise depends on the consolidation of jobs increasing the work load and expecting the pay and compensation to stay exactly the same. I hardly think that is realistic and I doubt that the savings will be that great.

2. Where is the detailed plan? Why would one want to proceed ahead without knowing the details of the process of what and how things are to change? Think, plan, then act in that order. Acting without a plan is backwards.

3. One township is rural the other township is essentially is a village. They have different needs, finances and long term goals. This means that it could just as easily be bad for both townships.

4. Combining townships will reduce representation or put it another way, it will concentrate power. Given the island’s string of recent debacles it is rather apparent what the island needs is more transparency not less. Joint committees bring a greater light of day to island government.

5. The current setup is working. Yes it is messy, but both townships have a lot to show for their efforts. Joint committees do work.

6. Finally, this is marriage without divorce. Once it is done it can’t be undone. The island needs to keep its options open.

Having considered all the above I am thinking that we are better off just living together.
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islandliving



Joined: 21 Nov 2015
Posts: 276
Location: Beaver Island, Michigan

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:25 pm 
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Great post ExIsle, the people trying to ramrod this through got nothing, absolutely nothing. Not one answer at all. This proposal should not have gotten this far. Your statement think, plan, act, in that order. Well all that was done is act. It is about as backwards as you can get. The current system is working as has for who knows how many years. I still find it hard to believe the petioners circulated the petion with absolutely no facts or figures and also that all who signed did with no information about the consolidation. Post like yours are what the voters need to see to make a good decision. Thank you.

John McCafferty
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carolburton



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:28 pm 
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There is lots of information if you look for it and a website. There is also a lot of "proof in the pudding" so to speak about how our townships have been running. Just look at this forum and I would say no one is real impressed. I have asked several times... What has your township done for you the taxpayer? What is your township doing for you the taxpayer now? That question has not been answered once.

I also believe that the petition and the consolidation question is out because we need to think about it. I see it as a taxpayer decision based on... Do we/I want to do this? Will this work better for Beaver Island? What will it mean to me? What will it mean for the island? Will we work together better? Do I want my elected officials to make this work for us? and not based on what it could cost.

I am under the understanding that taxes cannot be raised unless we vote for it. Also the tax split that they showed to cover the townships looks like a fair solution without an increase to our taxes. Correct me on that if I am wrong.

A lot of people do not see this Island as your side my side any more. Especially those vested in the both sides and the entire island. One Island with 600 voters? Explain how that doesn't look a little out sorts to have two townships. I don't feel like any side will get left out or have unfair advantage over the other. As a matter of fact I would like to vote in both townships since I have an interest in both.

If we vote yes then our elected officials will have to get some answers and make it work. That is what they are elected to do.
"Responsible for township’s fiduciary health" https://www.michigantownships.org/runningfor.asp
Fiduciary. An individual in whom another has placed the utmost trust and confidence to manage and protect property or money. The relationship wherein one person has an obligation to act for another's benefit.

In the case of island consolidation I think that the more negative reasons and responses without backup and the old just because it's been this way that are put out there the better voting yes looks to more people.
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islandliving



Joined: 21 Nov 2015
Posts: 276
Location: Beaver Island, Michigan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:55 pm 
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Just because someone is asking simple questions does not make them negative just frustrated not to get the answers we are asking for. The future of the island based on assumptions and hopes. If we vote yes we are voting on a gamble. It might be good for the Island or it might not be good for the Island. Take your chance because no one has any answers. If some proof was shown first it might be enticing to vote yes. Because of the totally unprofessional way this proposal was put into play I think it would less support of the voter who is insisting on more information. Why is it so hard to answer the questions with simple answers ???

John McCafferty
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medic5740



Joined: 01 Dec 2005
Posts: 573
Location: Beaver Island

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:24 am 
Post subject: Answers
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I am not taking a position on consolidation or not consolidation, but it seems to me that the demanding of answers for something that hasn't even been established is putting the cart before the horse.

Here's what we know.

The voters have established the maximum millage that can be levied by their votes in each township. We know that this cannot increase without another vote.

Just like every millage voted in, the taxpayers will not know whether the township board will levy part or all of the millage. You certainly can't predict what will be levied in the future with a board that is yet to be established and voted into the positions. All you can do is provide the maximum voted millages for all these operations, and we will all have the same input into the process

So, what we do know is the maximum amount of taxes that we can each be charged if the consolidation goes through. Just like when other millage is voted and approved, we do not know how much will be levied until our elected officials work through the finances and make that decision.

We do not know anything about a hired manager with wages and benefits. This may have been discussed by someone somewhere, but this is not part of the vote. Once again, this is something that will be decided by a newly elected board should the consolidation take place.

We do not know lots of things, but predictions can't be made before the establishment of the non-existing entity. While some would like to predict that this will cost MORE money, there is absolutely no way to know what it will cost until it is established, if it is established, but we do know the maximum that it can cost in our millage, and we, as voters, approved this millage already.

So, the biggest part of this discussion is truly speculation such as, "I think this will cost more money" and "Other larger groups have done this" and "There are no advantages" or "Why are we considering this?"

My answer to these questions is simple. It's been talked about for a hundred years. First, because one township paid more than the other. Then, the situation reversed itself after the building boom and expansion with tourism. First St. James taxpayers paid more, and then Peaine taxpayers paid more, and then Peaine matched the dollars with St. James, but levied less. These are historical facts without the numbers because they can't be found without serious research of historical documents, if they still exist.

Someone decided to make a suggestion that the two townships consolidate into one. If this goes through, we know that every taxpayer on the island will pay the same millage for each voted millage, and every taxpayer will have the same millage levied on their property. This, if it happens, will equalize the millage paid by every Beaver Island taxpayer.

We do NOT know who is going to be voted into the positions on a NEW board if the consolidation goes through. We do know that every person interested will have the opportunity to run for these positions on any new board.

Are these good things or not? Each voter will decide that.

Prior predictions set aside, each of us, in both individual townships as voters will make this decision, and no amount of speculation and rumor will change that.

Joe Moore
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islandliving



Joined: 21 Nov 2015
Posts: 276
Location: Beaver Island, Michigan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:32 pm 
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Good points Joe, We are going to vote this consolidation in and then we will get answers. Voting blind. Of course new millages will have to be voted in, where else will the money come from. The same people that vote for the consolidation will vote the millages in to cover all the cost of consolidation. What other choice will there be?? Money tree??
I cannot believe as a voter and citizen that there cannot be even an estimated cost of any kind with-in even 30% of the cost of consolidation and the future tax savings of the Island. I as a voter need more proof. If the petitioners would have presented anything that shows why this is going to improve the Island I might consider a positive outlook on the idea. Until then the vote is NO

John McCafferty
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carolburton



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:57 pm 
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Thanks Joe for clarification on the tax. Sounds like it will remain in taxpayer control.
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islandliving



Joined: 21 Nov 2015
Posts: 276
Location: Beaver Island, Michigan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:15 pm 
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Taxes will remain in taxpayers control?? Maybe. No proof if they will go up or down??

John McCafferty
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medic5740



Joined: 01 Dec 2005
Posts: 573
Location: Beaver Island

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:59 pm 
Post subject: Millage
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Here are the categories of the "extra" millages that cannot be increased unless voted on, IF and only IF, the consolidation takes place by a vote in each individual township.

Airport millage cannot be higher than .85 mills
Emergency medical millage not higher than... 3.0 mills
Fire millage cannot be higher than ..............1.0 mills
Health Center millage cannot be higher than 2.0 mills
Historical Society millage cannot be higher than .1 mill
Road millage cannot be higher than ........... 1.4 mills
Township Operating millage no higher than 3.6 mills
Transfer Station millage not higher than ...... 1.8 mills

This is part of the petition as filed, so we know that these millages will not be increased prior to 12/31/2019.

There is no way to know what millage will be levied if consolidation takes place, but we know these are maximum. There is no way to know what millage renewals will be requested or millage requests to be made if the consolidation takes place.

We do know that the above cannot be exceeded. This was the only point of my prior post. No higher millage can be levied than the numbers given above unless voted in.

For those that are suggesting that taxes will go up, will you please post the millage numbers in your township, so we can compare apples to apples? My math doesn't suggest any immediate increase in taxes, but I'm willing to compare numbers if you are.

Joe Moore
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