Cannon Township

News from Cannon Township Supervisor

July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

A Sacred Duty by STEVE GRIMM Cannon Township Supervisor When I was sworn in as Cannon Township Supervisor in 2011, I raised my right hand to God and promised to guard the fiduciary duty to Cannon’s taxpayers. That fiduciary duty required me and the board to zealously protect the fiscal stability of our township and to protect the taxpayers’ investment we receive through our millage. As our treasurer states on the township website, “Local government is a dynamic and changing environment which occasionally can provide unexpected challenges—not the least of which may be budget and revenue concerns.” When I became supervisor last year, our board recognized that we were seriously under-funded. We asked staff to sacrifice, we implemented an aggressive approach to spending cuts, we trimmed government, and received an unexpected and relatively small increase in state revenue sharing. Over the past year-and-a-half, this has led to an increase in our general fund balance. We are well down the road to fiscal stability, but according to our assessor and auditor, we are not quite there. On March 26, as we were about to vote on our 2012-2013 budget, our board was surprised by a motion by one board member to cut the township’s operating millage by 50%. The motion was not on the agenda, and the board was provided no supporting data analyzing the fiscal impact to the township of such a measure. While appealing politically, by a five-to-two vote, the board decided to forego the short-term political gain, and instead honor our fiduciary duty to the taxpayers. We asked the dissenters to provide a financial impact study, so we could revisit the issue, but it has not been forthcoming. So I researched it myself. Here’s what I found: There are 35 governmental entities in Kent County. Cannon Township’s operating millage is in the lowest third of all taxing entities in the county. A 50% cut in our already low millage, which has been in place and untouched since at least 1993, would amount to an average savings of $17.35 per person per year, or $1.45 per month. Because, according to our treasurer, challenges can be unexpected, the impact to the township could be devastating. The things that separate Cannon from other townships, like the […]

‘Commit to Cannon’ team of seven announces candidacy for township board

July 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

A team of seven cannon township residents recently announced its candidacy for Cannon Township Board. The team consists of Dennis Smith (supervisor), Jim Alles (treasurer), Ken Carozza (clerk), and four running for trustee: Rob McBrien, Tim Nelson, Annamarie Bauer and Jim Pearson. “Running with a campaign pledge called ‘Commit to Cannon,’ our team will bring fiscal responsibility, personal accountability, transparency and integrity to our township matters,” said Tim Nelson, a pastor at Ada Bible Church. “We care deeply about preserving Cannon Township as a rural community and believe in the importance of creating timely budgets, providing good governance by having all meetings open, and not making any deals behind closed doors.” “We are unhappy with the current direction that Cannon Township is being led and are seeking a change. Our team has a strong history of trusted leadership in this community and look forward to the opportunity to serve,” said Rob McBrien, current Cannon Township trustee. McBrien pointed out that the team has 56 years of combined zoning, township or planning commission experience. Standing in together in Cannon Township, this team will begin campaigning immediately under the slogan “Commit to Cannon.”

Endowment gives nearly $58,000 in first responder grants

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

‘We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue’ by BETH ALTENA  Fourteen fire or police departments have funding for life-saving equipment they needed thanks to the generosity of those who supported the West Michigan Healing Fields (WMHF) memorial to 9/1/1 held last September. The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE) met last month to give away the money raised by the sponsorships of the 3,200 flags—each representing one of the people who died 10 years ago in terrorist attacks that changed the U.S. in one horrific day. According to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, the project was brought to RACE by Susan Bodenner, who heard about the program. It allows communities to honor those lost while raising funds for grants to first responders, many of whom were among those killed. She brought the idea to the RACE board, where it was enthusiastically embraced. “We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue,” said Young. “The franchise was $50,000, so RACE could either lose $50,000, break even or make money.” In addition to covering the initial franchise fee for the WMHF, the project raised nearly $60,000 more given away at the RACE annual meeting held at Rockford City Hall on Tuesday, May 18. Not all of the 20 grant applications or all of the grant request amounts were approved, but an amazing $57,840 in grants were given for worthy needs of local rescue. The grants included $5,000 each to Cannon and Courtland township fire departments, the City of Rockford Police and Fire, and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Division, which is located in Rockford in Plainfield Townshhip. Plainfield Fire Department received $4,900 to purchase thermal imaging unit equipment; Algoma Fire Department received $4,882 for needed equipment; Sparta Fire Department received $4,785; Grand Rapids Police Department received their entire grant request of $4,473; Wyoming Police and Grandville Police departments were given $3,500 of their grant request; Grattan Fire Department received $2,400 of their requested grant; and Grandville Fire Department received a check for $2,200 of their requested grant. Polly VonEschen, who is an at-large member of the RACE board, said the grants represented the most the board has given since her tenure on the board. The endowment was formed in the early […]


June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

by STEVE GRIMM Cannon Township Supervisor  The Cannon Township Board has always focused on being open and transparent in the conduct of your business. When I became supervisor in January 2011, the Board allowed public comment in the beginning of every board meeting, and every person was allowed three minutes to comment. As of my first meeting as supervisor, we added public comment at the end of each meeting and removed the time limit. I have always felt that there should be no limit in Cannon Township on free speech, and if something was important enough for someone to take the time to come to a meeting, they should not be limited in the amount of time they have. We have said, however, that if a person has five minutes of something to say, they should to do it in five minutes, not six or ten. We recently had over a hundred people at a board meeting when we were considering a revision to the Special Land Use Ordinance for recreational areas in Cannon Township, like, but not limited to, Cannonsburg Ski Area. Everyone at the meeting had an opportunity to address the Board, and everyone, without exception, had something meaningful to say. That was a very important moment for our township, because it proved that the changes I mentioned above work very, very well. Everyone was courteous and respectful, and the Board appreciated every word that was said. As a result of this exercise in representative democracy, the Board was able to glean very important information and pass our concerns on to the Planning Commission for analysis and input. The Planning Commission then appointed a subcommittee to analyze those concerns. Then a subcommittee of the Board met with representatives of the Planning Commission, and came up with a very good ordinance, as well as an amended Outdoor Assembly ordinance. Best of all, we had input and advice from interested citizens in the subcommittee as well. In Cannon Township, we realize that the collective wisdom of her residents far outweighs that of her Board. Taking things one step further, we recently changed the make-up of our sewer committee to include a board member who actually pays a sewer bill, Deb Diepenhorst, as well as residents […]


May 31, 2012 // 0 Comments

To bond or not to bond? by STEVE GRIMM Cannon Township Supervisor The communities that make up the North Kent Sewer Authority are currently in the process of upgrading and replacing aging components. Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield Townships have known since 2009 that the lift stations at Rogue River and Lake Bella Vista are in dire need of replacement. Preliminary engineering bids were requested and last year the engineering began. Working through the North Kent Sewer Authority, we were able to obtain state grants that paid for 90% of the engineering, saving the communities thousands of dollars. Again using the authority, we were able to qualify for low cost bonds at an annual rate of 2.5% that would cover the costs of the repairs, while allowing us to keep our fund balances healthy. The question was then debated: To bond or not to bond? On the one hand, it is generally a good idea to pay cash when you can, without incurring any debt. On the other hand, acquiring low cost bonds, which could be paid off early without any penalty, would allow us to keep our sewer fund balances at levels that would also allow us to handle any failure that may arise elsewhere in the system. The Cannon Township Sewer Committee and the Board of Trustees listened intently in public meetings to those who pay sewer bills. We even put some of those residents on our sewer committee. In the end, the discussion became part of a wider strategy to continually upgrade our system over time without having to drastically raise rates. We also realized that inherent issues of fairness apply. One of the residents, Mark Verwys, pointed out in one meeting that by spreading the bond payments out over a number of years, those on sewer will pay their fair share, as opposed to paying for improvements out of money saved up to now. Thus, if someone moves in, they will start paying. If they move out, they will stop and the next family will take their place. Finally, by taking advantage of the bonds, we will be able to do both lift stations now, rather than having to do one, and then save up for the next, sometime in the future—especially […]

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