Bertrand Twp. board under fire

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, December 9, 2010

BERTRAND TOWNSHIP — Four Bertrand Township board members are under fire for voting to have the county collect summer taxes.

Therese Niemier, a Bertrand Township resident, submitted recall wording to Berrien County last week to begin a recall attempt of Supervisor John Mefford, Treasurer Linda Layher and trustees Richard Haigh and David Zelmer — all of whom voted at the last meeting to have the county delay collecting summer taxes in order to allow the county to collect them.

Clerk Jane Lano, the only board member to vote no on the issue, is not being targeted for recall.

“We have a treasurer whose job it is to collect the taxes,” Niemier said.

Niemier argues that if the treasurer would begin collecting summer taxes, the township would receive $4,000 a year from the state. Currently that money goes to the county since it is collecting the taxes.

Having the township treasurer collect taxes would also eliminate the 1 percent administration fee being charged by the county for the service.

Hague said Bertrand Township has been handing over summer tax collection duties to the county for about three years.

A clarity hearing is slated for Dec. 20 at the county courthouse in St. Joseph to determine if the recall process can continue. If the recall wording is approved, Niemier said she would need to gather 230 signatures to put the recall issue on the election ballot. She will have to get the signatures in a 90-day period within 180 days.

Niemier said she is not alone in her desire for a recall.

“There seems to be some excitement about getting some new blood in there,” she said. “It’s nothing personal. It’s just about people doing their jobs to benefit the people in the township and make it better.”

There is a Facebook group where the issue is being discussed called Concerned Citizens of Bertrand Township.