Commissioners continue to discuss possible changes to road commission
REED CITY — "With the complaints we are getting, we need to go to a vote of the people and let them decide if they want to keep an elected road commission or go back to an appointed road commission," Osceola County Commissioner James Custer said at a meeting in August.
"I'm still in favor of having public meetings," he said at the board of commissioners meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 16. "We serve the public, we should hear what they have to say."
According to state statute, a county board of commissioners in a county with an elected board of road commissioners may, "by a resolution, submit to the voters the question of transferring the powers, duties and functions of the elected board of road commissioners to the county board of commissioners."
If a majority of voters are in favor of the transfer of powers, the elected board of road commissioners is dissolved.
Custer told the board the State Senate has passed a bill which will extend the sunset law past January 1, and if they want to do anything regarding changes to the road commission it will need to be done prior to January 2020.
Sunset laws allow a regulatory board to expire on a certain date unless action is taken to renew the board. The time for the sunset date typically runs from four to twelve years. The sunset provision requires a board undergo a review by legislators who will determine if it will be allowed to sunset, continue with changes or remain unchanged.
The recently passed Senate Bill extends the sunset period to January 2025.
Road Commissioner Alan Gingrich told the board he has asked the county commissioners to come to the road commission's meetings and tell them their complaints in person, he has asked for a list of complaints and has not received it and he heard someone from Middle Branch Township wanted to talk to him but he hasn't heard from him yet.
"If I don't know about the problem, I can't fix it," he said. "We've sent a letter to all the townships letting them know if they want us, they can call us, and if they want us to attend their meetings to let us know."
Commissioner Tim Michell asked Gingrich to be proactive and schedule representatives from the road commission to be at the township meetings at regular intervals.
"Township boards change and some of those people don't understand the process," he said. "What would be wrong with road commissioners attending those meetings so some of the fallacies that are being spread could be nipped in the bud?"
Gingrich told the board he believes communication is the problem because he hears from them about complaints, but he's not getting those complaints from the townships or the public.
"You can have all the public hearings you want on being appointed or elected, but if the appointed guy doesn't know about the problems any more than the elected guy you're going to have the same problem," he continued. "You can't fix what you don't know about."
The board agreed to have two public hearings beginning at 9:30 a.m., on Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, at the Osceola County Courthouse.
The public is asked to share their opinion on whether they want the road commission to remain an elected position or go back under the authority of the county board of commissioners.