Monday, November 10, 2014

Looking Towards The Future In Bridgeport



Events seem to be moving in a positive forward motion here in our little township.  In August the millage was passed for the Bridgeport Public Library with 68% of the vote.  And in the November 4th election the special assessments for the Bridgeport police and fire departments also passed, both with around 60% of the vote.  If I am reading the numbers correctly from the Saginaw County Clerks website, we had a 47% voter turnout here in Bridgeport.  I believe that is higher than normal, at least higher than some of the elections I have taken note of in the past.  Of course I would like to see every election with a minimum 75% voter turnout. 

Sadly now that the election is over the nay-saying has to begin.  On November 6th Bridgeport Township mailed out letters to every property owner in the township.  These letters were a notice of the public hearing to be held on November 17th, 2014 for the special assessments for the police and fire departments.  The problem for some people seems to be in the wording in the letter.  Mainly that they can change some of the details of the assessment or that they can raise it more than 10% of the assessed amount.  At least it is my understanding that this is what they are upset about.  The comments are along the line of “That’s not what we voted for”; well actually it is what you voted for, or against I suspect in this case. 
The details of these assessments were explained in multiple township board meetings, several presentations were given by the chiefs of the fire and police departments.  I think there may have been one or two write ups in the Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald about the assessments, perhaps even in the Saginaw News.  I suspect that if anyone had wanted to know the exact details of the assessments, the legal language, then they could have gone to the township offices and gotten all the information they needed.  It has been explained that the assessment will never go over a 10% increase over the set amount.  Every year they will hold a public hearing to set the rate, which is at $45.00 for the fire department and $37.80 for the police department.  If the public agrees to an increase then it will go through, but I believe they are hoping to keep it at the set amount.  They also explain that if the full amount of the assessment is not needed, then they will drop the rate for that year.
Here are just two of the video’s I recorded of presentations that were given concerning the assessments:

And then we are back to thinking there is a “conspiracy” by the township officials.  For those of you that believe that they have set the hearing date of November 17th  BECAUSE they know that it is firearm deer hunting season and they are planning on many people not being able to attend the hearing, get a grip on reality!!  Sorry but no coddling feelings here.  I may still have trust issues with some of the township government officials but even I don’t believe they set that date for that reason!
I believe that they have to provide notice of the public hearing at least 10 days prior to the hearing.  The election was on November 4th, they probably had to wait until the 5th to be sure the vote totals were final, then they could proceed to send out the letters which they did on November 6th.  When using my math skills here I add 10 days to November 6th and that makes it November 16th.  That day falls on a Sunday and the next business day is Monday November 17th so voila we have a date for the public hearing!
Actually the township discussed setting the public hearing date as November 17th at the August 6th board meeting.  So it has been planned for several months now.  Have any of the complainers voiced their concern at a board meeting or contacted the township with their concerns about the date?
Normally there are only a handful of residents that attend the township meetings.  Hopefully more residents will attend this public hearing.  The township could have maybe waited and set the hearing for early December after firearm deer hunting season is over but then I suspect there are some residents who would dream up some kind of conspiracy theory for them waiting till then.
One last issue I will address for the naysayers concerns the incident of a township employee that may have embezzled money from the township funds.  There is not much to say about it really.  An audit has taken place and an investigation is taking place now.  The case will move through the judicial system.  I am assuming that insurance will cover the loss of any township funds but I don't know for sure.  Is there someone to blame for this incident?  I don't feel that there is except the employee themselves. If there are residents that have concerns about this matter then they should speak up at a board meeting or contact the township to discuss it with them.
There is an expression I hear mostly from the younger generation and I finally understand it - “Haters Gonna Hate”.  Bridgeport hopefully will keep moving forward and the haters will just fall to the wayside.

There are some things happening in Bridgeport that I am very excited about.  The future plans for the use and restoration of the former B & S Heating building located next to the historic bridge.  The DDA has the plans in the early stages and I really hope it works out.
The plans for the canoe launch are really moving along.  I have had some reservations about the plans in the past but I am truly getting excited about the dream of canoeing down this river.  I believe it will be in July 2015 that there will be a river cleanup of my beloved Cass River organized by the Cass River Greenway organization.  I am hoping to see some Bridgeport residents at this event!  I still have a concern about the water levels in the river but I guess you just keep moving forward and deal with any problems as they arise.  The key is to keep moving forward!
The Bridgeport Parks and Recreation programs are a great thing for the youths of our township.  The director is working hard to get more and more youths involved.
There are some positive improvements in our parks here in downtown Bridgeport and I am looking forward to the future of the parks and river!
The Bridge Fest continues to grow.  Next year there will be even better fireworks and at least one more event added.  Hats off to the organizers for all the hard work they put into the festival!
I can’t fail to mention the Bridgeport Historical Village and the Historical Society.  They continue to offer some great events there all year long.  The chapel they opened this year is beautiful.
There are some serious issues with our school system here in Bridgeport but I am hopeful.  I see passion and commitment from people that want to get the issues straightened out.  They all need to use that passion and commitment to work together and make it happen.

What will the future of Bridgeport look like?  Everything comes down to choice.  Do you want to be a naysayer or a positive influence?  Do you want to move forward or live in the past?  Do you want to love or hate?  When you see a plant do you see a weed or a flower?  I see a beautiful flower.


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