Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting July 1st, 2014

I should mention that it didn't sound like the microphone was at the public podium so you will probably have as much trouble hearing what the public speakers had to say as I did sitting just a few feet away.

The first item on the agenda was the Public Hearing for Orchid Unique Instruments.  They are requesting a tax abatement.  I couldn't gather enough details from what was said there to be able to tell you the exact details of their request.  How much and for how long?  I don't know.
Unique Instruments has been here for 17 years, I suspect they are here to stay.  They have a beautiful facility and grounds, they seem to have a growing business.  I would say that they are a asset to our community.  I don't have a problem with giving a tax abatement to Unique Instruments in particular, my problem is with giving tax abatement's period.
The use of tax abatement's and Downtown Developement Authority Boards are tools often used by local governments to lure in new businesses and keep others from leaving.  But do they really work?  I have read some good articles over the years, especially about DDA boards.  What I have gathered from them is that municipalities will actually do better by just keeping their taxes low for all the businesses and keeping their regulations "user friendly".  With lower taxes, it will give all businesses a fair and equal chance to prosper and it would seem like common sense that it would also attract more business.  Same goes for taxes and regulations concerning attracting more residents.
The use of tax abatement's and DDA boards seems to pick the winners and losers in a municipality.
You can go to Google and find as many articles as you can stand to read about the pro's and con's of tax abatement's, same for DDA boards.  I picked out just two of them on the effectiveness of tax abatement's.
The Ugly Truth About Tax Abatements
The Effectiveness of Tax Abatements  

Next up was the Public Comment Period and there were two speakers.  The first speaker I believe was Mike Szukhent (my apologies if I have this gentleman's name wrong) from the  Birch Run Area Chamber of Commerce.  He had nice things to say about Bridgeport.
I still just do not understand why Bridgeport Township is joining with the Birch Run Chamber?  What happened to the Bridgeport Chamber Of Commerce?
Why do we have to have the same flower pots as Birch Run does?  Did they spend $10,000.00 on their flower pots?  Why do we have to use the same greenhouse as Birch Run does?  Why should we have banners on our poles just like Birch Run does?  On and On.........
I mean no disrespect to Birch Run but We Are Not Birch Run - We Are Bridgeport.  We are unique and special.  Maybe some of our current elected leaders and public employees should just move to Birch Run.
The next speaker was Mr. Eddie Foxx of Bridgeport and he spoke about, had some questions about, the sidewalk repair plains and the upcoming public hearing concerning the repairs.
My first thoughts on the sidewalk issue was do the residents have a choice in whether sidewalks are located on their property?  If not, then why should they be responsible for the cost of repairs to them?  These are hard economic times for many residents.  How much will these repairs cost?  Can the homeowners do the repairs themselves or do they have to have the usual $100.00 permit from the township and then hire a contractor to do the work?
Here is a novel idea...........
What is the goal of DDA boards?  To maintain and improve the infrastructure, "to correct and prevent deterioration in business districts and to encourage historic preservation".  Would sidewalks fall under the infrastructure category?  How is the DDA board funded?  With the tax dollars paid by the residents and businesses of Bridgeport Township.  In my utopian dream town, the DDA board would spend some of that tax payer money they already have and pay for the sidewalk repairs.  Seems to me a much better use of the money than spending $10,000.00 on flower pots and $33,000.00 on a snow removal machine.  The lack of sidewalks and the deterioration of the sidewalks is a problem in our township.  The latest trend for towns is to increase the "walkability" of the area; to make towns more walkable, bikeable and livable communities.  I can always dream can't I?

They discussed a little about the Special Assessments for Public Safety for the Police and Fire Departments.  These will be different than the millage that was proposed in the past.  These assessments will be a equal amount on each property owner that has a home or building on their property.  In the past proposed millage, farmers were going to get hit very hard with taxes, this proposed assessment will help to balance the tax burden out equally among all residents/land owners in the township.  It is my understanding that no money from special assessments gets diverted to the DDA board.  So if the voters approve these assessments the money will go for where it was intended, to the police and fire departments. 

The Township Board Meeting for August was moved from August 5th to August 6th due to the fact that the primary elections will be held on the 5th.
The public hearings for the sidewalk repair and the special assessments will be held at the August 6th meeting.
If the residents of this township would like to know more about these items then please attend the August meeting.  If you would like to voice your opinion on these matters, then please attend.  You only have 3 minutes to speak so make it count.

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