New tenant for village hallPublished 2:11pm Wednesday, October 14, 2009
By MARCIA STEFFENS
CASSOPOLIS – The Cassopolis Village council approved a lease Monday evening for three years at $27,000 a year with Southern Michigan Bank & Trust.
The Bank of America recently closed many of its branches, including the one in Cassopolis in the Village Municipal Building.
The new tenant will also be paying about $4,000 in taxes and a portion of the utilities, according to Village Manager Kevin Gillette.
In other business Monday, the council set the trick or treat hours for Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m.
The meeting was run by Clare Mallo, who was recently sworn in as village president, even though he did not receive the most votes in the Sept. 15 election.
Canvassers found the vote count was accurate with Richard Lee receiving 15 more than Mallo out of the 288 cast, but that he had delinquent 2008 property taxes.
The canvassers sent their review to the clerk, who sought legal opinion from village attorney, Robert Callahan.
Callahan presented his findings to the council and the full audience Monday, stating “there is no case law on the issue.”
After much research on municipal law and attorney general rulings, Callahan said anyone who has unpaid property taxes is “not eligible for any office and all votes are void.”
The taxes would have had to have been paid by the last day of February, following the year they were due.
“The president stays on,” the attorney said, “for a two-year term. This is clear and unambiguous.”
He said he relied on the “legal authority out there … statutes as enacted by the Michigan legislature.”
The attorney was challenged by members of the audience and the council, including Trustee Leon Gilliam who felt the decision should have been left to the council to appoint someone.
“This is what the village pays me for,” Callahan answered.
He mentioned this situation is different than the one in Vandalia, where three trustees were found to also be delinquent in their taxes, since this was for the president’s position.
According to Village President Beverly Young, the three were never sworn in, as was reported in last week’s Vigilant, as the problem was discovered before that time.
More discussion came from the audience about a water problem at Tony’s Talk of the Town on Rowland Street.
Tony Pompey questioned why his building never had a water problem until a nearby building was demolished and the road was resurfaced. He believed his questions have not been answered by the manager or council.
The council also learned from an engineer from Wightman & Associates that Cassopolis will be receiving a grant of $546,000 which will go toward repairs to sidewalks and Graham and First streets near Squires School, which will also improve the entrance to the Cass County fairgrounds.
The work will be done next year.