Township budget talk gets tense

Tension filled the Grand Haven Township Hall on Monday as the township's $8.92 million 2012 fiscal year budget was approved, and one Township Board member stepped up to his "soapbox.'
Kyle Moroney
Nov 29, 2011

 

The Township Board voted 5-2 for the new budget, which includes $8.27 million in anticipated revenues. Clerk Sue Buitenhuis and Trustee Tom Jenkins cast the opposing votes.

The budget, which begins Jan. 1, is up nearly $2 million from this year — which had been the smallest budget year for the township in eight years.

Township Manager Bill Cargo explained there are several reasons for the uptick in cash flow, including the new voter-approved Harbor Transit millage, more road projects and a significant water line project in the southern portion of the township.

“We’re making a planned drawdown on our cash reserves,” Cargo said. “We’re going to spend a lot more money this year on road projects and we’re doing a major water main project in the Hiawatha (Road) area of the township.”

Cargo explained that a portion of the transportation millage that was approved by voters last May will go to Harbor Transit, while the rest will go toward the township’s streets and roads funds.

Tension among township officials elevated during Monday’s meeting as Jenkins got on what he called his “soapbox,” and repeatedly questioned minor portions of the budget, while seemingly berating the township manager.

Jenkins questioned why Cargo’s annual review had been delayed from September to December. He also questioned Cargo’s salary and contract, vehicle replacement for Cargo, as well as the record-keeping for the car’s maintenance and fuel.

Cargo said all of the records for the township vehicle he drives — a Dodge Caravan that is up for renewal — are given to the township’s finance department and may be viewed there. Cargo stated that he does not get reimbursed for gas.

Cargo’s $102,200 salary is generally contingent on his annual evaluation, which is being delayed while the township’s personnel committee obtains a “360 evaluation” — acquiring viewpoints from communities surrounding Grand Haven Township — rather than just from Township Board members.

Cargo’s salary was frozen last year and will continue to be frozen this year.

“I didn’t have a problem with that because I already made the decision that I’m going to freeze my salary again this year,” Cargo said. “Normally, the evaluation is important for two reasons: it gives me feedback from my bosses to see how I’m doing, but it also is a basis for any salary increase. So I’m not taking a salary increase, the fact that it’s delayed two months is immaterial.”

After nearly 20 minutes of Jenkins being on his “soapbox,” Township Supervisor Karl French called for a vote on the budget.

Cargo said he didn’t feel under “attack,” but was surprised with some of the questions Jenkins raised as they could have been easily discussed during the two-hour board work session on Nov. 17, in which Jenkins was not present.

During the meeting, Jenkins would not say why he was not in favor of the budget, but said he agreed with Buitenhuis and Kieft. Jenkins refused to comment following the meeting.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

newspaperlawyer

I can not believe that the more of the GH twp citizen were not at the board meeting last evening. A total of 5 people were in the audience. The board had not reviewed the information and some claimed they were not given the proper paperwork for review in their packets. And this is who we have running this multi-million dollar budget. A Twp Trustee attacking the manager in a public forum and then the trustee trying to run the board meeting by arguing with the supervisor in a unprofessional manner. I do think the board members had some great for questions about the budget issues, but last night was joke to witness and just another rubber stamp by the board. Its time for some replacements and for citizens of GH twp to get involved.

rationalresident

Tom Jenkins NEEDS TO GO!! He is a complete waste of space on the Twp Board and a distraction from normal business.

sunshine_99

The fact that an elected official behaved this way during a public meeting is absolutely ridiculous! How childish and immature!!! Why was Tom Jenkins not present at the work session where the budget was being hashed out??! Isn't this the job the citizens elected him to do?! Clearly, he has too much time on his hands to be worrying about the manager's car maintenance.

 

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