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Council member says he was misinformed on petition issue

By Judy Reed

Several people that signed the petition to disincorporate Sand Lake now say they were misled about what it would mean and would like to have their names removed. One of them was a Sand Lake Village Council member.

Trustee Dave Tibbe told the Post this week that he did sign the petition, and that he asked the Nelson Township clerk Tuesday morning to remove it, but it was too late. The signatures have already been certified. “I told the circulators of the petition that I would not be a definite yes vote, that I needed more facts,” noted Tibbe. “More facts have now come to light that I did not see a the time.”

Tibbe said his main concern was sparking interest in lowering taxes. “It definitely did that,” he said. He was the 8th person to sign the petition.

According to Tibbe, the circulators of the petition told him that the village taxes would be gone, and they would probably lose some services, and would pay the Nelson township tax. “But there are liabilities that the village has and certain services we can’t do away with,” said Tibbe. “We’d probably ending up contracting it out and paying a higher price rather than saving money,” he said.

While he said he’d like to lower taxes, he now thinks disincorporation is not the way to go.

The Sand Lake Village Council met Tuesday evening, and according to Village President Kirk Thielke about 16 of the 20 people in attendance were pro-village. The petition to disincorporate the village was recently filed with Nelson Township by village residents Brenda Ridgeway and Diana Comstock, Chair and Secretary of the Sand Lake Village Planning Commission.

Ridgeway was in attendance at the meeting but made no public comment.

Thielke said that if people want to change the way things are run, they should attend the budget meetings or run for office. “Come join us and help us fix it,” he said. He noted that they have the same services as Grand Rapids, which has 80,000 people. “We have 320 to share the cost, and most have never been to a budget meeting,” he said.

The board went into executive session to discuss the issue with their lawyer, and Thielke said that they were advised to wait for Nelson Township to advise them on what they needed to do. “There are a lot of things open to interpretation, such as who votes in the election? Just us or the whole township?  We’ll wait for the township to interpret that,” he said.

Nelson Township plans to meet on January 12 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Township Hall.

For reference, Michigan compiled laws 74.18-25 covers villages and disincorporation.

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