Election Results: Saugatuck Township Turns Down County Recycling Fees; Whiteford Wins
Saugatuck Township electorate voted to renew a cemetery maintenance renewal, but turned down the Allegan County initiative to provide curbside recycling pickup via a $36 annual surcharge to each household in the Tuesday, Aug. 2 Primary Election.
Also, Randy Brink, with 120 votes, lost his Republican bid for the four-year Saugatuck Township supervisor seat to Jon Phillips, who garnered 164 votes.
Incumbent Saugatuck Township Supervisor Bill Wester did not seek re-election. Phillips will square off with Independent Shawn Powers and Democrat Jon Helmrich for the supervisor seat on the Tuesday, November 8 General Election.
Of the recycling initiative, Saugatuck Township Manager Aaron Sheridan said there was some misunderstandings of the issue that had been circulating in the local media.
“This is an Allegan County program; the township doesn’t keep any of the recycling money in the city coffers—it all gets remitted to the county,” explained Sheridan.
Refuting that statement by Sheridan are comments made in public meetings - to many municipal officials throughout the county, including the City of Saugatuck - by Ben Williams, Allegan County’s Recycling/Solid Waste Coordinator who was leading the fight for the now-failed ballot initiative in Saugatuck Township.
Williams repeatedly told municipal officials - prior to this week’s election as he sought to persuade them to put the recycling ballot issue up for vote in each of their jurisdictions - that any of the public money money raised as a result of the recycling program approval would first be used to support the recycling programs, but any money over and above that amount could be used by the respective municipalities “for anything they would choose to do with it” and to “help offset the cost of other (municipal) programs.”
Sheridan did not address Williams’ earlier statements.
The proposed surcharge turned down by voters on Tuesday would have, if passed, been mandatory for each household, different from the existing township recycling program which is voluntary and entails a $25 surcharge.
The failed recycling effort also, if passed, would also have been in addition to the services private carters now provide township residents for recycling.
The county program is run by Allegan County Resource Recovery, whereby townships and cities elect to participate in it via an inter-local agreement with Resource Recovery.
There are 17 municipalities that participate at this time.
“The program is losing money and it is not sustainable. For many of the participating municipalities the (voluntary) surcharge is not enough to compensate for the current recycling services,” said Sheridan.
Those municipalities where the local ballot proposal was defeated may chose to continue with the $25 surcharge and decide if general fund dollars are sufficient to cover possible deficits or consider eliminating certain parts of the recycling program, say Allegan County Resource Recovery representatives.
With regards to the cemetery millage renewal, it is estimated to raise $62,853 in 2016 in its first year. Saugatuck Township administers and maintains Riverside and Douglas cemeteries, including lawn care upkeep.
The cities of Saugatuck and Douglas pay a share of the annual lawn care maintenance based on their respective population.
The cities of Saugatuck and Douglas did not have local issues on the Primary Election ballot.
In the 80th District State Representative race, the City of Saugatuck and township electorate gave most votes to Mary Whiteford in her re-election bid, 79 votes and 274 votes, respectively.
Only in Douglas did Whiteford not garner the most votes, where John Andrysiak received 75 votes versus Whiteford’s 72.