Steve Shoemaker, Leighton Township Planning Commissioner, appeared before the Township Board Thursday evening as a private citizen to ask what will be done with the $589,074 coming soon from the federal government.
Shoemaker pointed out that Leighton stands to get the money as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, often referred to as the stimulus, and he asked what, if anything, the township plans to do with this unexpected windfall.
Treasurer Jaci Bultsema said it’s her understanding that, “If you don’t spend it, it goes back (to the federal treasury).”
Shoemaker pointed out that not one Republican in the U.S. Senate voted for the stimulus and very few in Congress supported it.
“Are you going to vote your ideology and not spend this money and let it return to the federal government?” he asked. “You could live up to your conscience and vote not to spend any of it.”
He added that he suspected all of the board members voted for Republicans across the board in the 2020 election and they voted against the Democratic Congressmen, U.S. Senators and President Joe Biden, all of whom voted for the stimulus and Biden signed it.
Supervisor Steve Wolbrink acknowledged he is a Republican philosophically, “but I have a responsibility to the people of the township.”
He said he’s not the kind of die-hard Republican who would refuse just because he didn’t like who was sending it.
Shoemaker suggested the township have a public hearing to determine what the public would like to do with the funds, whether it be for roads or for Internet broadband.
Trustee John Hooker said that despite the large sum, it wouldn’t be enough to pave one mile of road.
The township over the last several years has failed to get additional millage passed for roads, so it was believed that could be one of the ways to spend the money.
Wolbrink acknowledged he did not agree with the stimulus package, but added, “If we have to have a public meeting, I am not opposed. I think it’s worthwhile to put this out to the public.”
One member of the audience, Fern O’Beshaw, said it may be important first to get a better definition of what the money can be used for and what it can’t.
Shoemaker remarked that Allegan County is getting $22.9 million in the rescue plan and Dorr Township is receiving the largest amount, at just under $780,000. Leighton is third highest in stimulus funding and the City of Wayland stands to get $417,000.
In other business as Thursday night’s meeting, The Leighton Board:
- Learned from Fire Chief Matt Weston the department continues to be on track for setting a new record for calls, 87 for the first three months of 2021.
- Was told by Weston that the deal has been made for purchase of a new fire truck from Spencer for $626,897. He said it has a larger capacity for carrying water and he hopes it can be unveiled in time for the Green Lake July 4 celebration in 2022. The truck also can be used as a first responder vehicle.
- Learned that Green Lake is still planning to have a July 4 celebration this summer.
- Approved a $750 bid from Heyboer Landscaping to remove grubs from the soil at the cemetery to make way for ridding the area of moles.
- Agreed to once again pay Becky Deer an annual stipend of $500 for cleaning and maintain the restroom at the Green Lake park
COVER PHOTO: Steve Oetman (left) receives a plaque of appreciation for support from the Leighton Township Fire Department, represented by Randay Maynard (center) and Chief Matt Weston.