CORUNNA — County officials received mixed comments Thursday about the need to expand the Road Commission membership from three to five commissioners.
The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing Thursday to take input on increasing the number of road commissioners.
In the past, county commissioners have expressed concern over the fact the three-member Road Commission oversees a budget nearly as big as the seven-member county board.
“A lot of the time I get calls from constituents because of road issues. They don’t believe me when I say we have no say over the roads and the budget, but it’s the truth. This isn’t to take punitive action against the board. The reason this was brought forward was to be open and transparent,” Commissioner Brandon Marks, R-District 4, said.
No action was taken Thursday and several commissioners stated they wanted more time to obtain input from constituents and local officials before making a decision.
If a decision to increase the membership is approved, two new commissioners could be appointed or run for office in the 2020 election.
According to Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson, for the new commissioners to be on the March 2020 primary ballot, the decision would have to be made by Dec. 17.
Commissioner Jeremy Root, R-District 5, said he believes, legally, there can’t be districts and the two new commissioners would run as at-large candidates.
Several local officials attended Thursday’s public meeting to speak on behalf of their constituents.
Antrim Township Trustee Michael Godfrey said he believes his township’s concerns aren’t being listened to by the current Road Commission.
“We just don’t feel like we get heard well in the southern part of the county,” he said. “I think most of the people in support of keeping it at three are from the northern part of the county. We shouldn’t have to tell the Road Commission what we need. I’m in favor of five so we will get more ears out there.”
Perry Township Supervisor Mark Faulks said he wanted to keep the commission at three and urged unity among officials.
“We’re all in this together. We’re all Republicans, we want to do more with less. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said. “Let’s leave it alone and work on things we need. If I call I get responses within five minutes. Let’s keep it right.”
Hazelton Township Supervisor James Sheridan said he's also not in favor of expanding the Road Commission to five commissioners, but he noted that he is appreciative of all the work the commission does.
County Commissioner Gary Holzhausen, R-District 3, said he hasn’t spoken to anyone who opposes adding two more commissioners.
However, Commissioner John Plowman, R-District 7, the Board of Commissioners’ liaison to the Road Commission, favors keeping membership at three.
“I’ve been really pleased with the financial end. They received an A-plus on their audit and have an investment policy that has done well this year,” he said. “Keep in mind their whole focus is roads. We have our own gravel pits that also save money. I personally lean toward keeping it to three but understand five as well.”
County Commissioner Dan McMaster, R-District 2, praised the Road Commission, but said he understands residents who feel like they are disenfranchised by only having three commission members.
“I’ve heard from both sides. I saw the road commission first hand when we had the tornadoes and they were great. I understand some people may feel disenfranchised; we need to take that into consideration. I look forward to more input from local officials,” McMaster said.