Salted with Sharks

Alert Reader: Some Notes on Possible Actions the People of Elberta May Take According to the Village General Law and MML, and a Word on Village Tax Rates

In Alert Reader, Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Politics, Uncategorized, Village Money Situation on December 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm
The Alert received the following by email from Elberta resident Teri McGregor December 20, 2013. Letters to the editor may be edited for length and minor typos/spelling issues. We welcome anyone’s input. Send letters to elberta.alert@gmail.com, subject line “Alert Reader.” Thanks for reading!
By Teri McGregor
The Elberta Village meeting was stimulating but not in a good way. There were many topics discussed but not much action, other than appointing committee members. Very disappointing. I thought we would get answers to some questions, but no luck. I am posting this lengthy document that outlines the points of interest discussed at the meeting. I have added reference to disincorporation of the Village and removal of an elected official for future discussions.
Powers of the council (handbook for General Law Village)

The GLV Act establishes the council as the legislative authority for the village. It is important to remember that this authority is granted to the council as a whole rather than to individual trustees. Most of the powers granted to the council are permissive in nature rather than obligatory. The act allows the council to:

• reduce the number of trustees to four. The proposed ordinance requires a public hearing, followed by a ten-day waiting period before adoption by a two-thirds majority. It cannot take effect for 45 days following adoption, during which time a petition signed by 10 percent of the registered voters can force a referendum on the issue. There are additional requirements regarding the timing of the ordinance and the effect on the term of sitting trustees. (MCL 62.1)A sample ordinance to reduce the size of council is available in Appendix 8 of this handbook.

• make the position of clerk and/or treasurer appointed. (MCL 62.1) Sample ordinances to appoint the clerk and treasurer are available in Appendices 6 and 7 of this handbook.

• provide for the appointment of additional officers not provided for in the charter and prescribe their duties. (MCL 62.2, 62.3)

• appoint individuals nominated by the president. (MCL 62.2)

• act on resignations, determine vacancies and make appointments to fill vacant offices. (MCL 62.10 through 62.13)

• provide for compensation of village officers (by ordinance for the president and council). (MCL 64.21)

• exercise all legislative authority. (MCL 65.1)

• select one member of the council to serve as president pro tempore. (MCL 65.3)

• hold regular meetings, at least one each month. The president or three members of the council can call special meetings as needed. (MCL 65.4)

Conflict of Interest Michigan Municipal League

What’s a conflict of interest? (chapter 8 GLV) (General Law Village: Common Procedural Questions)

To understand the Michigan laws on the subject, let’s begin with what they are trying to address: Just what is a “conflict of interest?” And why should we care about it? The second question is easy to answer: Public office is a public trust. Elected officials are merely hired hands, delegated power from the public, obliged to exercise that power as the public’s trustees. We owe a duty of loyalty to the public interest. Actions or influences tending to undermine that loyalty are destructive to the public’s confidence in government. We all should care about that. A conflict of interest is any interest competing with or adverse to our primary duty of loyalty to the public interest. A competing interest may be a personal interest, or it may be a duty or loyalty we owe to a third party. In either case, there is a “conflict” if the competing interest impairs our ability to decide a public question objectively and independently. That is a broad definition, and not everything which might fall within it is necessarily a problem. An influence which could impair our impartiality is a potential problem.

After reading several attorney generals opinions, I believe elected officials who are married to one another are prohibited, from voting, deliberating, participating in discussions, or otherwise taking action or using the authority or influence of their office, formally or informally, in any matter which would provide a direct and definite, private pecuniary (monetary; relating to money; financial; consisting of money or that which can be valued in money), benefit to their spouse, where their objectivity and independence of judgment in the performance of their official duties could be impaired. In the absence of any crystal-clear laws regulating exactly what is and what isn’t a conflict of interest, public officials should at all costs avoid the appearance of impropriety. It’s a matter of trust between the elected official and the voter. Elected officials should abstain from votes where they may have a conflict of interest.

Appendix 4 Rules General Law Village Michigan Municipal League

Rules of Procedure

For general law village councils

2. Special meetings

A special meeting shall be called by the Clerk upon the written request of the village President or any three members of the Council on at least 24 hours’ written notice to each member of the council served personally or left at the councilmember’s usual place of residence. Special meeting notices shall state the purpose of the meeting. No official action shall be transacted at any special meeting of the council unless the item has been stated in the notice of such meeting.

Treasurer and Clerk are Officers and not employees

62.1 Village officers; council; ordinance providing for election and terms of office; adoption; filing petition to delay effect of ordinance; ballot question.

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), in each village, the following officers shall be elected: a president, 6 trustees, 1 clerk, and 1 treasurer. The president and trustees constitute the council. In all votes for which not less than a majority vote of council is required, the calculation of the number of votes required shall be based on the maximum number that constitutes council.

Water Rate increase and ordinance

71.6 Water rates; ordinance; terms.

The council shall establish just and equitable water rates to be charged and paid for water supply. The council shall periodically either modify, amend, increase, or diminish the water rates. The council may prescribe by ordinance when and to whom such water rates shall be paid, and what steps shall be taken to enforce payment of the water rates, including, but not limited to, notice to persons who fail to pay the rates that their supply of water may be shut off, and may provide, in case of nonpayment, that the supply of water may be shut off or stopped.

Managing Employees (not officers)

4.1 President as chief executive officer; duties generally. PA 3 of 1895

The president is the chief executive officer of the village. He or she shall preside at the meetings of the council. The president is a voting member of the council. The president shall give the council information concerning the affairs of the village, and recommend measures which he or she considers expedient. Unless otherwise provided in an ordinance adopted under section 8 of chapter V, the president shall exercise supervision over the affairs of the village and over the public property belonging to the village. The president shall see that the laws relating to the village and the ordinances and regulations of the council are enforced.

Compensation

64.21 Village officers; compensation. PA 3 of 1895

The president and each trustee shall receive compensation for the performance of the duties of the office of president or trustee only as provided by ordinance. The ordinance shall specify how the compensation is determined due and paid. Except as otherwise provided by law, these officers shall receive no other compensation for services performed for and on behalf of the village during their term of office. Except as otherwise provided in this act or by other law regulating fees for services, other officers shall receive such compensation as may be prescribed by the council.

Disincorporation of Village

74.18a Disincorporation of village; procedure. PA 3 of 1895

(1) To initiate the disincorporation of a village, a petition signed by not less than 15% (44 voters, based on 293 [the number of registered voters in the Village]) of the registered electors of the village requesting a vote on the question of whether the village shall disincorporate shall be filed with the township clerk.

(2) A petition shall designate the township or townships into which the village is proposed to be disincorporated. A village shall be disincorporated into the township or townships in which it is located, along existing township boundaries.

(3) After the petition is filed with the township clerk a petition affecting the village shall not be filed with the state boundary commission and a petition requesting disincorporation of the village into a different township shall not be filed under this act until the disincorporation process provided for by this act has concluded.

(4) Not more than 14 days after the petition is filed, the township clerk shall verify the signatures and determine the sufficiency of the petition. Unless the council proceeds under sections 23 to 23i of this chapter, if the clerk determines that the petition is sufficient, the question of the disincorporation of the village shall appear on the ballot at the next general or special election to be held in the village, subject to the Michigan election law, 1954 PA 116, MCL 168.1 to 168.992. The township clerk shall prepare the ballot language, in substantially the following form:

“Shall incorporation of the village of __________ be vacated?

( ) Yes

( ) No.”

(5) The county election commission of the county in which the greatest number of electors of the village reside shall provide ballots for the election.

(6) The clerk and election officials of each township into which the village is proposed to be disincorporated shall conduct the election on the proposed disincorporation in the village and the portions of the township outside the boundaries of the village, respectively.

(7) If the election on the proposed disincorporation is to be held in conjunction with a general election or a state primary election immediately before a general election, the notices of close of registration and election shall be published as provided for by the state election laws. Otherwise, the county clerk of the county in which the greatest number of electors of the village reside shall publish the notices of close of registration and election. The notice of close of registration shall include the ballot language of the proposal.

(8) The results of the election on the proposed disincorporation shall be canvassed by the board of county canvassers of the county in which the village is located.

(9) The disincorporation of the village shall take place under this section only if 2/3 of the electors voting on the questions vote “yes.” If the disincorporation is approved, the council shall immediately cause a transcript of all the proceedings in the case to be certified to both of the following:

(a) The county clerk of the county in which the village or the principal part of the village is located.

(b) The secretary of state.

STATE CONSTITUTION (EXCERPT)
CONSTITUTION OF MICHIGAN OF 1963

§ 10 Removal or suspension of officers; grounds, report.

Sec. 10.

The governor shall have power and it shall be his duty to inquire into the condition and administration of any public office and the acts of any public officer, elective or appointive. He may remove or suspend from office for gross neglect of duty or for corrupt conduct in office, or for any other misfeasance or malfeasance therein, any elective or appointive state officer, except legislative or judicial, and shall report the reasons for such removal or suspension to the legislature.

2012 Tax Millage Rates Benzie County (Village of Elberta is the highest rate in the County)

                                    Homestead               Non-Homestead                          

Almira           

Benzie School                         20.4576                       38.4576

Traverse School                     21.8376                       39.8376

Village Lake Ann

Benzie School                         21.4801                       39.4801

Traverse School                     22.8601                       40.8601

 

Benzonia Twp                        20.1454                       28.1454

Village of Benzonia              31.7454                       49.7454

City of Frankfort                    34.7526                       52.7526

Village of Beulah                    30.7985                       48.7985

Blaine Twp

Benzie School                                19.4413                       37.4413

Frankfort School                           20.1213                       38.1213

Colfax Twp

Benzie                                   19.8905                       37.8905

Thompsonville Village                 27.1579                       45.1570

 Crystal Lake Twp.                    20.3002                       38.3002 

Homestead Twp                          20.4928                       38.4928

Village of Honor                          28.0567                       46.0567

Inland Twp                                    20.3599                       38.3599

Joyfield Twp                                 19.0522                       37.0522

Lake Twp                             

Benzie school                                    19.0190                       37.0190

Frankfort school                              20.2990                       38.2990

Platte Twp                            

Benzie school                                 20.4405                       38.4405

Glen Lake school                           20.3205                       35.3901

Weldon Twp

Benzie school                                 19.7667                       37.7667

Village of Thompsonville           27.0332                       45.0332

Gilmore Twp                                   

Frankfort school                          20.6535                       38.6535

Benzie                                               19.9735                       37.9735

Village of Elberta                    36.8100                       54.8100

  1. An elected official can be removed by the Governor as noted above. An elected official can also be recalled by registered voters. Recalls must be filed at the Benzie County Courthouse.

    • You correct Holly, recall is another option. The tough part is educating the voters and getting them out to vote. In the meantime at the very least, they could lower the number of Council people and make the Treasurer and Clerk hired positions.

  2. The Treasurer and Clerk should be hired positions. It would make excellent financial sense for the Village, and I would imagine it would be less stressful for the people involved. A job lasting four years, maybe longer if the voters will have you, seems rather nerve-wracking.

  3. plus the benefits package needs to be cut bad. too many paid days off plus Ken should only be getting 1 week paid vaction not all the ones he has taken the past 2 years. he takes 3 weeks for planting and again 3 weeks for harvesting corn for his brothers. plus someone should look into the overtime that DPW is being paid for. there is no reason to have both guys sitting in the truck at the same time.

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