Readers’ Voice

The Courier-Leader reserves the right to edit or reject any submission to the Readers’voice column. Letters must be signed to be considered for publication.

 

To the editor:
   After reading the letter in The Courier Readers’ Voice regarding our current State Representative Beth Griffin, who claims to be tirelessly working to secure a bill that will reduce the cost of auto insurance for EVERY Michigan citizen, I have to comment.
   Only one (ONE) bill was voted on in the last two (TWO) years which provided no guarantee of long term rate decrease, but rather offered reduced coverage while strengthening the legal power of the insurance industry. It would shift costs from insurance companies to taxpayers. (Look it up... HB 5013.)
   Good news!! This bill did not pass; however, Beth Griffin voted for it. Seeking the entire truth about our candidates rather than just accepting the selected information they put on their glossy brochures, is not getting “down and dirty,” as the author of the letter stated. It is merely being an informed constituent.
   Connie Baxter
   Paw Paw

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Dear Readers,
   Thanks to everyone who donated their time and made donations to our “Disaster Relief Dinner” at the Kristopher Club Friday, October 19th.
   A special thank you to La Cantina for helping with the dinner, and Tapper Inc. and Family Fare for their contributions for our relief efforts.
   Thanks also to the Knights working the dinner and their wives, who both worked the dinner and also supplied desserts.
   Bill Zolp
   Grand Knight 3798

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Taxpayer Alert:
   We voted in the August Primary on the Road Commission millage. saying NO, defeating the proposal. What didn’t they understand when we said NO in August?
   Now the millage proposal is back on the November ballot, with the same 12-year proposal.
   In August we didn’t have a five-year plan. How can we believe they know what they will do with our tax dollars for 12 years?
   Vote NO on November 6th.
   Marvin G. Flick
   Paw Paw

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Letter to the Editor:
   I urge every voter in Van Buren County to vote “no” on the 3 mil road tax increase sought by the Van Buren County Road Commission.
   Here’s why:
   1. The 3 mil increase represents a 10 percent property tax increase for most areas of our county.
   2. The Road Commission already levies a 1 mil road tax. Most similarly sized counties in Michigan do not have a road tax.
   3. The 3 mil increase requested would only go to repair primary roads, not local roads. Our county has about 1,330 miles of primary, and local roads. Primary roads represent approximately 348 miles whereas local roads represent approximately 982 miles. The local roads are the roads most of us drive on each day. This increase will not be used on our local roads!
   4. The so-called Road Commission “flexible plan” for use of the $118,000,000 (the amount generated by 3 mils over 12 years) addresses only a little more than 26 percent of all county roads.
   5. According to the Road Commission’s own data, 235 miles of the 348 miles of the primary roads on our county, or 68 percent, are in “poor” condition. How did this happen?
   6. The Van Buren County Road Commission receives most of its funding from the Michigan Transportation Fund (“MTF”). Each of us pay a tax on each gallon of gas we purchase, each vehicle owner pays license and registration fees annually. These tax revenues are then allocated to Michigan Department of Transportation, cities, villages, and  to county road commissions, including Van Buren. According to the Road Commissions’s 2017 Annual Report, it received $8,593,852 from the MTF, $1,522,569 from the existing 1 mil road tax, $2,937,312 from local governments in the county, plus miscellaneous revenue for a total of nearly  $15,000,000. The Road Commission must do much better with existing resources to justify a major tax increase.
   A number of townships in the county have voter-approved road millage, used to address the cost of repairing and maintenance of the 982 miles of local roads. The road commission requires all townships to foot the bill for 100 percent of local road heavy maintenance and improvements. The increase sought by the Road Commission puts each township millage in jeopardy.
   While it is true roads are one of the most expensive public services to operate and maintain, it is also true the Van Buren County Road Commission must do a far better job managing its current resources before asking taxpayers for significantly more money.
   Please vote  “no” on the proposed tax increase.
   Geoff Moffat
   Almena Township

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Letter to the editor,
   Randall Peat is the kind of person we should look to elect for commissioner of Van Buren County on November 6th.
   As a man with more than 40 years of private business leadership and ownership, Randy Peat has the understanding that is required to help determine what types of best practices are reasonable for Van Buren County. His background with and commitment to our area is clear.
   It is my honor to support Randy’s candidacy for Van Buren County Commission on November 6th.
   James Marcelletti
   Paw Paw

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Letter to the editor:
   Voters in the Lawton School District have many excellent candidates to choose from this November. Incumbent Steve Carroll is one that I believe has earned your vote. As a past member of the Lawton School Board, I have personal experience with the thorough and thoughtful way that Steve serves on the school board.
   It is in his role as the chair of the finance committee that I consider Steve to be a vital member of the board. Steve devotes untold hours analyzing the budget, the funding needs and the funding options for our district. Lawton Community Schools currently has a healthy fund balance and I believe that Steve Carroll deserves a lot of the credit for that. Please join me in voting to re-elect Steve Carroll for the Lawton Community School Board on November 6th.
   Fred Beach
   Lawton

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County voters,
   What is it about the meaning of the word “NO” that the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners (Gail Patterson-Gladney, Kurt Doroh, Richard Godfrey, Richard Freestone, Mike Toth, Donald Hanson, Paul Schincariol) doesn’t understand? The Van Buren County Road Commission 12-year, 3 mill, $122M proposed property tax levy appearing on the August 7, 2018 Primary ballot was defeated (56% to 44%) by the voters of Van Buren County.
Nevertheless, the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners would not accept the August 7 voice of the voters and decided on August 14, 2018 (a mere seven days from rejection by the voters of Van Buren County) to again place the Road Commission proposed property tax levy before the voters for approval - this time on the November 6 General Election ballot.
   Apparently, the Board of Commissioners is determined to dig deeper and deeper into our wallets for more and more of our hard-earned income rather than, for example, first demanding the State of Michigan return some of its fuel tax revenues and projected $1.9 billion budget surplus to Van Buren County for road improvements. Michigan Congresswoman Beth Griffin, Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, are you listening?
   Doesn’t it seem like our wallets are always the first place these public officials look toward to resolve government problems?
   On November 6, 2018, tell the Board of Commissioners what you told them on August 7, 2018 - reject the Road Commission new 12-year, 3 mill, $122M property tax levy proposal. Maybe the Board of Commissioners will finally understand the meaning of the word “NO”.
   Roger Flammang
   Grand Junction

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Dear Editor,
   In January of 2017, I attended one of Beth Griffin’s coffees at Greg’s. I went there to voice my opposition to HB 4221, which I told to Beth, along with a synopsis of the bill. At that time, she told me that she wasn’t familiar with the bill, but she’d research it and get back to me. Later that day, I discovered that Beth was one of the sponsors of the bill. I contacted her to remind her of this and she sent me a letter apologizing for her mistake. Since I had no idea how one sponsored a bill, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and accepted her apology.
   This fall, I had the opportunity to speak with a sitting House of Representatives member. I relayed my experience and asked what they thought of it. I was told that I had been lied to as every member of the House is well aware of, and held responsible for each bill that they sponsor. That was very disappointing to hear.
   For that and other reasons, I’ve decided to vote for Dan Seibert for the House of Representatives. Dan and his wife are the parents of two young boys and they’re concerned about their education, environment, and other issues. You can research this for yourself at his website: Dan@seibertforstaterep.com.
   I hope that you will join me and elect Dan Seibert to the House on November 6th.
   Judith Porth
   Paw Paw

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Dear Taxpayer:
   Vote NO on the Road Commission Millage. Look at your property tax statement and review the taxes you are paying now. In Antwerp Township, I pay the following:
   Antwerp Township - General
   Van Buren County Roads
   Van Buren County  Ambulance
   Van Buren County Public Safety
   Public Transit
   Paw Paw District Library
   Paw Paw Library Debt
   Van Buren Intermediate School District - Operations
   Van Buren Intermediate School District - Special Education
   Van Buren Intermediate School District - Vocational
   Paw Paw Public School - Operations
   Paw Paw School Debt
   Senior Services
   Paw Paw Fire Department
   I count that as 14 taxes I already pay. How many more millage taxes can a household afford.
   It is time that departments learn to live within their budgets, the same as you and I have to do.
   Sincerely,
   Sidney Shank
   Paw Paw

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Letter to the Editor:
   I have always voted, but never actively advocated for the candidates in an election. But this year, when a Democratic office opened in Paw Paw, I decided to help. Nearly every time I have been in that office, someone who is a Republican or Independent comes in. They are appalled by the actions of the Trump administration and by the Republican members of Congress. They said this is no longer the Republican party they knew. 
   One of them even asked me, “what shall I do?”
    My answer to that person was to vote Democratic. A Democratic majority in Congress is the only way to prevent the continuation of Trump’s policies, which Republicans in Congress have rubber-stamped or silently accepted.
   Matt Longjohn is running for the Congressional seat in the 6th District.  He brings experience that will improve the health and quality of life for everyone.  He promotes the interests of people, not corporations, taking no PAC money. 
   He has pledged to work with both parties to improve the health care system and to support renewable energy. He will pass common sense gun reforms.
   There are thoughtful, responsible people running for office throughout the Democratic ticket this year. I have met Garnet Lewis (candidate for State Senate) and Dan Seibert (for State House).  They are caring, intelligent people who will work to help this state.
   Vote Democratic!
   Teresa  Rzonca
    Paw Paw

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Letter to the Editor:
   Here’s just a little bit of why we are voting for Mike Jones for Paw Paw School Board.
    We don’t know of any other school board candidate or even a School Board member that’s more involved in this community. Mike has coached Rocket football, Youth baseball, middle and high school teams for years and can still be seen at several sporting events a week, whether it’s a school game for football, basketball,  soccer, etc., or a rocket football or T-Ball game supporting the kids of our community. He worked on the Steer and Bond committee and worked getting the school bond passed.
   Mike also supports and donates to a lot of community fundraisers for others in need.
   We know he has been to more school board meetings in the last four or five years than any of the other candidates running and more than all the other school board members except maybe two that are currently serving.
   Maybe Mike cares more about our community and children because he has lived in Paw Paw all of his life, graduated from Paw Paw, as did his children and he’s looking forward to his grandchildren, at least some of them, graduating from Paw Paw.
   We agree with Mike about students being given more information and choices on further education or skilled job training.
   My family is/was pretty much all college orientated until me. I wished I had had different choices when I was in school other than college, as it wasn’t for me, (Sally) and Rick's family was in the skilled trade of construction.
   Our three children all have some college education and two graduated from college, one graduated with a degree in Business and has since changed and works in the skilled trades and has been promoted to project manager. One is a Master Electrician and has his own business, and one is a registered nurse and floor/department supervisor at a hospital.  We have two grandchildren in college and one that went to the Technology Center through Paw Paw Schools and is getting his Journeyman’s card in welding; he has two years left. I have two more grandchildren going to the Technology Center through the Paw Paw Schools, another one in welding and one for law enforcement.
   We can’t wait to see what our two other grandchildren and our great-grandchildren chose to do.
   Sincerely,
  Rick and Sally Yarbrough
   Paw Paw

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Dear Editor,
   I will be supporting Matt Longjohn, MD, for Representative in the 6th Congressional District. I have never seen Congressman Fred Upton put out so many lies and negative TV advertisements, but it shows that he is obviously very worried about all of the support that Matt Longjohn is getting. And yes, he has every right to put “MD” after his name as he graduated from Tulane with a Medical Degree, but chose to work in creating medical policy at the national level. And yes, he has a son currently serving in the U.S. Air Force, so why would he want to “completely gut the military” as the Upton commercial suggests?!
   These negative, misleading and blatantly false ads cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are funded by corporations and political PACs. They are not informative. They just show you who gets the most money to do someone else’s bidding! They do not further the democratic principals that have been lost in the current American election process that is full of money from mostly undisclosed donors.
   We really need Matt to fight against what GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, says he wants to do next: cut Social Security and Medicare to deal with the massive deficit as a result of the tax cut to the very wealthy.
   I have never seen such a qualified group of Democratic candidates running for office in this area and none of these candidates is taking corporate donations. If you were at the forum in South Haven last week you saw this in action with Matt, Dan Seibert for Representative in Michigan’s 66th District, and Garnet Lewis, running for State Senate. You could tell by the audience reaction that people respected their informed answers to the questions with the facts and figures.
   Vote for these candidates on November 6.
   Kathy Murphy
   Paw Paw

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Dear Editor -
   The 2018 general election is just a few days away and it reminds each of us of the importance of honesty, integrity and thoughtfulness in our elected officials.  Fortunately, we have had and continue to have one of the hardest working, thoughtful and caring members of Congress on our side, Fred Upton. 
   Fred, throughout his years in Congress, has kept his focus directly upon the needs of us, the people of Southwest Michigan.  Fred listens to us and leads with honesty and integrity.  He consistently responds with a solid and well-informed answer to our questions and concerns. Fred keeps the best interests of our region at the top of his agenda each and every day. 
   Join me in voting for Fred Upton on Tuesday, November 6 and know that your vote is a vote for honesty, integrity and thoughtfulness.
   Truly,
   John Proos
   St. Joseph

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Letter to the Editor:
   Election Day is right around the corner. With that in mind, I just wanted to mention a little bit more about me to give you an idea of who I am and what I stand for.
   My career for 25 years was in healthcare administration and for the past five it has been in finance for our county mental health authority. I have firsthand knowledge of dealing with the school system on IEPs as my son’s autism requires one annually. I know what it is like to fight the system to get what your child not only needs but deserves. It shouldn’t be a battle, but it usually is.
   I am empathetic to parents and children who deal with situations where you feel nobody is listening and nobody cares because I’ve been there. I live that life daily. I will fight for every student,  regardless of cognitive ability to receive from this district the education they deserve in a safe environment that promotes growth and acceptance.
   The stigma regarding those less fortunate needs to be removed from the system and acceptance needs to be promoted among the students. We need to address bullying at every level and work to a point where we stop that behavior at the elementary level so that we avoid situations that escalate as our students make their way to high school. The lasting damage done from being on the receiving end of a bully affects our students well beyond their time in high school.  We also need to address why certain individuals feel the need to bully and assist them as well so that they become active, productive citizens when they leave our school system. The end goal should always be that Paw Paw puts out successful, well-rounded young adults, capable of contributing to society in a positive manner and with excellent education backgrounds from their time here.
   Van Buren county students as a whole have a 20.4% average of not graduating on time. Paw Paw is just a slice of that percentage but still we need to ensure our students graduate ready for whatever they decide their future will be; trades or college.
   A more frightening statistic for the county is that 65.1% of our students are not college ready. (MLPP study from end of 2016)  I am lucky enough to receive that data from my work on Tri County Head Start’s board.  At TCHS we work with birth to age 4 to prepare students who come from low income families for kindergarten. It is an amazing program and, honestly, it is my motivation for wanting to work on the board for our students from age 5 and up.
   Lansing as a regulatory agency for our school district requires certain things of us, meaning some things we cannot change. But if there is any opportunity the board would have to assist administration with implementing  policies or procedures that will benefit every student who attends every level of school in Paw Paw, I would consider it my duty to help.
   I humbly ask for you to write me in on your ballot for the four-year partial term ending in 2020. 
   Thank you. 
   Dana Flanders
   Paw Paw

 

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This is a very significant tax increase; how will it affect you?

 

Dear Editor, 
   My name is Ben Brousseau and my company performs assessing services for several units of government in Van Buren County. I live in the Paw Paw area in Antwerp Township. I have been getting a lot of questions concerning the 3 mill increase requested by the Van Buren County Road Commission that was voted down in August and is now back on the ballot in November. 
   There is a lot of misinformation concerning how much this will increase individual property tax bills. Unfortunately, when these estimates are derived, they attempt to average everything together to come up with an annual average increase a homeowner can expect their property taxes to increase by. Since there are many factors at play (such as how long you have owned your home, value of the home and what tax jurisdiction you live in) this one size fits all method is not very dependable. 
   There is a more accurate way to calculate the increase. We know it is a 3-mill increase. If we divide 3 mills by the total annual millage rate a unit of government spreads, that will give us an idea of the actual percentage increase your annual property taxes will increase. Below, (photos) I have put together a spreadsheet with every taxing jurisdiction in the county broken down by school district. This will give you a reasonable idea by what percentage you can expect your annual property taxes to increase. This information only applies to properties that are receiving the Principle Residence Exemption (PRE; also known as homestead property tax exemption). This will not work for commercial, industrial or rental properties since they pay different millage rates. 
For the record, this calculation is not perfect. I am not able to include every little tax item that may alter this slightly, such as special assessments and, of course, there may be other millage items on the upcoming ballot that could change things slightly. I am attempting to develop a formula to allow the property owner to estimate the increase on their individual property. 
   Although not perfect, this is a pretty good indication of what percentage the annual property taxes will increase on your home or farm. If you are in a township proper, you can expect an increase of close to 10% and in a City or Village (located near the bottom of chart), it will be about 7%. This is a very significant property tax increase and, hopefully, this table will help you calculate how it will affect you.

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The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes
32280 E. Red Arrow Hwy. • P.O. Box 129
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-5080

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