Editor’s Note: The following letter to the editor was submitted on Friday, July 30 by Park Township Trustee Tom Springer following the publication of a letter regarding an upcoming Park Township ballot proposal that would adopt a new four-year .5 millage to fund road repairs within the township.
To the Editor:
On July 30, Watershed Voice published a letter from Katie Sweeney that asked, “Why is the proposed Park Township tax increase such a secret?” Ms. Sweeney refers to the Aug. 3 ballot proposal to determine if township residents should adopt a new four-year .5 millage that will be used to fund road repairs in Park Township. She writes that the only information she’s seen about the millage is “a brief reference” in the township newsletter.
First, as a Park Township trustee, I consider the implication that we are trying to keep this proposed tax increase “secret” to be a serious accusation. It suggests that the board is somehow colluding to withhold information from the public. To do so would be illegal, a clear violation of the Open Meetings Act, which could be punishable by up to one year in prison. While I don’t believe that Ms. Sweeney would label the board as criminals, to accuse government officials of secrecy is no small matter. Words matter, especially in a public forum, and I believe this word was ill-chosen.
Second, the photo (featured above) shows the newsletter article that Ms. Sweeney cites as inadequate. It appears on page 1, with a byline from Ed English, township supervisor. Below, we list the official State website where readers can find information on where and when to vote, along with a sample copy of the ballot.
This newsletter was mailed on June 7 to all 950 households in Park Township whose primary residence allows them to vote in the Aug. 3 election. We rely on the newsletter, along with our website, to inform local residents. We rely much less on the Three Rivers Commercial-News, as far fewer people subscribe to the print version than in the past. Further, the online Commercial-News publishes limited content, with most articles only available to subscribers.
Along with newsletter and web article, the board has openly discussed the road millage in recent board meetings. All monthly board meetings are open to the public — we encourage attendance! — and any resident is welcome to make comments on any Township matter during the public comment portion. For transparency’s sake, this is the best place to discuss the “pros and cons” that Ms. Sweeney mentions.
Given all that, I find it inaccurate and unfair to imply that the Park Township board has tried to keep the road millage ballot proposal a “secret.” In fact, we hope that all registered Park Township voters will turn out and vote either for or against the road millage on Aug. 3.
Park Township Trustee
Any views or opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.