By Lonnie Huhman,
The Sylvan Township Board took a look at wage increases and non-partisanship elections at its May 7 meeting.
The township board by a 3 to 2 vote, with treasurer Rod Branham and trustee Kurt Koseck voting no, approved a salary increase for the township clerk while the cost of living increases for the supervisor and trustees were approved 5 to 0, and the treasurer by a 4 to 1 vote with Branham voting no.
The clerk’s salary is going from $26,000 a year to $30,000 while the other board members will see a 2.8 percent increase.
In opposing the $4,000 salary increase, Koseck said in part he didn’t think the timing was right for this increase because currently the township’s budget is seeing its expenses exceed its income. He said, however, he wasn’t necessarily opposed to cost of living increases.
Clerk Kathleen Kennedy said she believes the clerk position should see an increase so the salary is comparable to other similar township clerks, and she said the clerk’s time and hours are increasing and there will be even more duties mandated time from the state, especially when it comes to elections and the training needed for them.
In that meeting and over the past few meetings, there was some public comment on the salary increase with both sides of the debate represented.
According to Sylvan Township, for the 2018 budget year, Lyndon Township’s clerk made $28,256 while the clerk in Lima Township was at $29,973 plus a 5 percent matching funds to a deferred benefit retirement plan for a grand total of $31,471.
The Sylvan board also by a 4 to 1 vote put its support behind the proposed idea to make the election of township government offices, such as the supervisor, a non-partisan issue rather than Republican and Democrat. This vote by Sylvan was only letting the Michigan Township Associations know where it stands on a possible state legislative bill that would, if passed, give townships the option to either have local non-partisan elections or not.
The consensus of the majority of the board seemed to be that local shouldn’t be as politically partisan as state-wide or national elections, or simply put, local offices are there to govern for the entire township and not just for a political party.
Kennedy was the no vote and said after the meeting that she wasn’t really passionate about the issue, but she does feel as though affiliation with a party can give voters an inkling of where you stand on some issues.
“I believe in the old adage, “the personal is political,” meaning that political decisions impact our everyday lives, even ones at the local level,” she said.