Archived Story

County to lose one commissioner

Published 7:12am Thursday, June 2, 2011

It’s official. The Berrien County board will have one less commissioner come next year.

Having considered multiple 11-, 12- and 13-district maps at meetings over the past month, the Berrien County Apportionment Commission elected to go with a 12-district format.

The apportionment commission voted 4-1 Tuesday in favor of going from 13 to 12 commissioners. Treasurer Bret Witkowski, Prosecutor Art Cotter, Republican Party Chair Stephen Smith and Democratic Party Chair Shirley Stansberry voted in favor, while Clerk Louise Stine was the lone no vote, preferring an 11-member board.

The new format will take effect January 2013.

Counties in Michigan must form an apportionment commission after every decennial U.S. Census to remap the their districts. Berrien County’s population decreased more than 5,000 in the last decade, one of the main reasons for dropping a commissioner.

County officials estimate losing one commissioner will save the county $31,500 a year — the average salary, including per diems and benefits, for a county commissioner.

Under the new map, south county will get a bit of a shakeup but will still feature three districts.

District 10 will be made up of Buchanan City, Buchanan Township, part of Bertrand Township west of St. Joseph Valley Parkway, Oronoko Township south of Shawnee Road and Berrien Springs Village.

District 11 will consist of most of Niles Township and Bertrand Township east of St. Joseph Valley Parkway, while District 12 will be the city of Niles and one precinct of Niles Township.

Another change was creating a large District 2, including Berrien, Bainbridge and Pipestone townships, the village of Eau Claire and the city of Watervliet. Commissioners Jon Hinkelman of Watervliet and Bryan Bixby of Berrien Springs will be in the same district next election.

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners have been vocal in their opposition of losing a commissioner. They voted 9-0 last week to support keeping a 13-district format.

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