Decisions on Scottville police and treasurer shouldn’t be made is haste.

July 23, 2015

An editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Over the past two Scottville City Commission meetings the topic of the existence of the city’s police department has come up. During the July 6 meeting, a motion was made, and defeated 5-2, to disband the department. During the July 20 meeting, citizens expressed their concerns — on both sides of the issue. The police chief and the county sheriff also discussed the issue while the commission briefly spoke about it again as well. Petitions from citizens in favor of the department were turned in and presented at the meeting. There is another petition that favors disbanding the department, but that petition was not presented to the commission during the July 20 meeting.

The only reason the topic was discussed at the most recent meeting was more out of courtesy to the citizens who showed up to express their concerns. Commissioner Ann Genson asked that it be placed on the agenda. But, in the democratic process the majority wins and the majority of the city’s elected representatives voiced their concerns at the early July meeting by voting to keep the department.

Commissioner Don Pasco, who made the motion to disband the department, said at last Monday’s meeting that he did so because he would like to see the city hire a treasurer. The city used to employ a full time treasurer until state revenue sharing and decreased property values reduced the budget. As a result, the city commission voted to combine the city manager and treasurer positions.

City Manager Amy Williams admits that she performing both the role of the manager and treasurer is not ideal. In fact, she says she is not getting paid extra to do the job of treasurer and she would be more than happy to give those job duties up. The issue is funding the position.

Up until 2007, the city hall had three full time employees: a manager/clerk, treasurer, and deputy clerk. City hall also employed a recreation director (which was sometimes full time and sometimes part time) and also a part time administrative assistant.

Today, city hall employs a full time manager/treasurer and clerk along with a part time administrative assistant. It should be noted that the administrative assistant’s position includes secretarial work for the police department.

Budgets are tighter now but separating the manager and treasurer positions makes sense. This adds checks and balances to the system and makes for less chances of discrepancies.

However, like any topic concerning adding or reducing departments or personnel, there is a time and place for it.

The City of Scottville operates on a fiscal year from July 1 to June 30. In December, the city commission — along with appointed boards such as Downtown Development Authority, planning commission and parks and recreation board — are asked to start working on their goals for the next fiscal year. Those goals are generally decided upon by January.

Goals that impact the budget are then discussed by the city’s finance committee. Committees such as finance, ordinance and public safety, consist of three commissioners appointed by the mayor. The finance committee, along with the city manager, recommends a budget for the next fiscal year. This budget is then presented twice at city commission meetings and also during a public hearing, in which the public is allowed input. This process takes place in April. The budget must be approved and must be balanced by the ned of April.

This is the process that should be followed. It is OK for the commission to discuss these topics at any time but action should not be quick and should certainly allow for public scrutiny.

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