Editorial: Recalls a costly way to oust officialsPublished 11:20pm Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Recall efforts seem to be all the rage in the past few months in the Niles area.
While Michigan’s recall process is a valuable one, the attempts to oust board members in Bertrand Township and Niles Township seem inappropriate and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
If you’ve attended a board meeting for either municipality in the past year, you know there is disfunction and often heated argument among the elected officials. But that alone is not enough to attempt an expensive recall election.
In Bertrand Township, the issue is already on the May ballot. Recall organizer Therese Niemier filed the petition, got approval of the wording for the petition and gathered the necessary number of signatures.
Niemier targeted four board members — Supervisor John Mefford, Treasurer Linda Layher and trustees Dick Haigh and David Zelmer — for their votes to allow the county to collect summer taxes.
Supporters of the recall argue that by allowing the county to collect summer taxes, the township misses out on about $4,000 a year from the state. Having the township treasurer collect taxes would also eliminate a 1 percent administration fee being charged by the county for the service.
But Mefford and Haigh believe the recall is not just about the tax issue but also their opposition of the sale of the Southeast Berrien County Landfill. Regardless of the motive, it seems silly to have the township pay even more money for the recall election when residents can bring about change in less than two years during the general election.
The situation in Niles Township involves two separate recall efforts — one targeting Supervisor Jim Kidwell and the other aiming to oust Treasurer Jim Ringler, Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt and trustees Richard Cooper and Richard Noble.
The Kidwell recall effort stems from a press release he issued that recall organizers argue violates township policy. The other recall attempt cited “misuse of township funds” as reasoning.
If these recall efforts get on the ballot, it would cost Niles Township $4,000 in election costs. If at least one official is ousted, it would cost an additional $4,000 for an election to replace the individuals, according to Durm-Hiatt.
That seems like an expensive venture to remove officials who haven’t done serious damage to the township. Yes, there has been controversy and disfunction, but we believe the township can handle that until the next general election next year.
This editorial reflects the views of the Niles Daily Star editorial board.