Board Discusses Road Commission
County Still Seeking Fremont Recycling Site
By Ken DeLaat
At the regular meeting of the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday June 28th, Commissioner Vern Willett made a motion that the Road Commission be disbanded and the duties now assigned to that group come under the Board of Commissioners.
Mr.Willett expressed his concern that the three member Road Commission was not accountable to the public under the present arrangement and also felt the compensation received by the Road Commission could be saved by having the Board run the organization.
“I think it would be a great step to help eliminate all the money this county is wasting,” he stated. “Three unelected road commissioners run the road commission for 6 year terms and their pay is equivalent to what a board commissioner makes.”
“It’s just one more layer of bureaucracy.”
Commissioners Brian Kolk and Phil Deur expressed reservations about making any changes to the current structure and Commissioner Jim Maike did as well, adding the concern that this issue is brought before the board before going through the channels of appropriate committees.
Commissioner Chris Ortwein stated he had high regard for the work being done by Road Commission and singled out praise for the job performance of Director Kelly Smith .
“They’re doing a great job. Why rock the boat?” added Commissioner Ortwein
Commissioner Chuck Trapp also expressed support for the current arrangement and spoke to the innovations such as the fuel depot installed years ago.
“They’ve saved us thousands and thousands of dollars, “ said Mr. Trapp.”We’ve got a good thing and I won’t tamper with it.”
Board Chair Patrick Gardner clarified the money paid to members of the RC stating “The highest paid member is the chair and he makes $5013 a year with a $50 monthly per diem and the health insurance is optional.”
He also expressed concerns over liability costs should such a change occur and stated that only 3 counties have tried this with one reverting back to the previous system.
In the end the Board voted 6-1 against the motion with Commissioner Willett casting the lone vote in favor.
In other business Rich Kooistra was recognized by the Board of Commissioners on the occasion of his retirement Mr. Kooistra has been with the county since 2004 and with the Equalization Department since 2005.
The resolution cited his dedication, loyalty and long term service to Newaygo County
Commissioners selected Burton Cooper to serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee. Mr. Cooper was one of four candidates for the position.
A motion to change the per diem rate for those serving on county boards from $30 to $50 was referred to committee for further research by a 6-1 vote with Commissioner Willett casting the dissenting vote.
Administrator Chris Wren reported the county is continuing to search for a recycling site in Fremont to replace the one closed last month.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting will be on Wednesday July 12th at 9:30am. Meetings are held at the County Administrative building in White Cloud.
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