Officials reiterate need for input on Road Commission

CORUNNA — County board members this week reiterated the need for public input when they conduct a hearing Oct. 10 on increasing the number of county road commissioners from three to five.

Commissioner John Plowman, R-District 7, the board’s liaison to the Shiawassee County Road Commission, said Wednesday during the board’s committee of the whole meeting that although he preferred the Road Commission stay at three members, two could be added.

He said the fact there are only three makes passing budgets easier because only two votes are needed. He also raised the issue of having the commissioners represent districts because of all the different municipalities and their infrastructure needs.

The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. in the county commissioners’ chambers.

In July, some county commissioners expressed concern about a $10,000 annual salary increase given to Road Commission Managing Director Brent Friess, taking him from $89,513 up to $99,513. Some county commissioners reported constituents complaining about the Road Commission.

The idea of possibly expanding the road commission from three to five was raised.

Road commissioners subsequently responded, essentially saying they had increased Friess’ salary to where a wage study said it should be, following several years of him receiving no salary hikes.

County Commissioner Dan McMaster, R-District 2, said he hopes the public hearing will draw residents and government officials, including road commissioners, to state their views on an expanded panel or raise other concerns.

“I want real input from everybody,” McMaster said. “If people feel they’re being disenfranchised, bring your figures.”

If an expansion is approved, a number of ancillary issues must be addressed, McMaster noted, including setting elections of two new road commissioners, and deciding whether the panelists would serve at-large or represent particular districts.

Commissioners noted previously that the three road commissioners make decisions on a $13-million budget while the county board’s seven members manage a $16-million budget.

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