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15, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. in their office located at 13300 Fifteen Mile Road, Marshall, Michigan. Present: Commissioner Chester E. Travis, Chairperson Commissioner David D. Veramay, Vice-Chairperson Commissioner Charles E. Monaweck, Member Joanna Johnson, Assistant Managing Director Kevin Henning, Finance Director Mary Jo Crumpton, Secretarial Clerk Also Present: Tom Frank, Albion Township Supervisor Eugene Hamaker, Marshall Township Supervisor Bob Brownell, Marengo Township Supervisor Jim Lingenfelter, Homer Township Supervisor Larry Spoor, Burlington Township Supervisor Steve Irons, Athens Township Supervisor Joseph Bramble, Convis Township Resident Clarence Millard, Newton Township Resident Richard Harvey, Bedford Township Trustee Bill Black, Emmett Township Resident Lynn Smith, Convis Township Resident Mike Heisler, Clarence Township Resident Marge Watkins, Burlington Township Resident G. Lawuer, Tekonsha Township Resident Jerry Johnson, Tekonsha Township Resident Lynn Hagelshaw, Burlington Township Resident Brenda Ball, Burlington Township Resident Steven Ball, Jr., Burlington Township Resident Larry Crandall, Bedford Township Resident Todd Wildt, Homer Township Resident Doug Wildt, Homer Township Resident Gardy Berezonsky, Marengo Township Resident Creighton Burrows, Marengo Township Resident Jim Russell, Calhoun County Road Commission Steve Ball, Calhoun County Road Commission Robert Volkmer, Calhoun County Road Commission Hershel Stacy, Calhoun County Road Commission Dave Fuller, Calhoun County Road Commission Chairman Chester Travis called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. He informed those present that Dennis Randolph would not be in attendance as he just received word that his father had passed away. There being no additions or corrections to the regular meeting minutes of February 1, 2006 they stand approved as printed and distributed. NEW BUSINESS Moved by Commissioner Veramay and supported by Commissioner Monaweck to approve the February 2, 2006 Accounts Payable for $454,106.62. Voice vote: Motion carried. Moved by Commissioner Monaweck and supported by Commissioner Veramay to approve the adoption of the amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws in Section I and II of the Constitution for the County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM). Voice vote: Motion carried.
Moved by Commissioner Veramay and supported by Commissioner Monaweck to approve the list of people selected to be elected as Directors on the County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM) Board of Directors as submitted. Voice vote: Motion carried. COMMUNICATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS · The official ballots from CRAM to vote on the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws in Section I and Section II of the Constitution. · The official ballots of those names placed in nomination for the CRAM Board of Directors. MANAGING DIRECTOR’S REPORT Mrs. Johnson provided the Board with the following information: · · · · · Responded to mixed snow and ice over the weekend and into Monday. Most crews are continuing to patch potholes The boom mower and chipper are running Repairing and replacing signs Working in the parks
Mrs. Johnson followed up on discussion at the last meeting regarding Act 48 of 2002, which provides funding to townships for telecommunications. She spoke with County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM) who indicated that these dollars could also be used for road and right-of-way (33 feet from the centerline) repair. We are continuing to meet and work with townships on the cost estimates for 2006 road projects. Township resolutions are due to the Road Commission by March 1, 2006 for 2006 projects. Gearing up for the 2006 construction season. COMMISSIONERS’ COMMENTS Commissioner Monaweck stated that during this past year, he has made it a point, as the new Commissioner, to visit all the townships in our County. He has gotten some very good feedback from these visits and the townships were very appreciative to have the Road Commission presence. His last meeting was in Tekonsha, and then he attended his own township meeting in Athens. At these meetings, CCRC Supervisor Steve Ball was present. He commented that if we are starting a new program whereby management attends township meetings, he is supportive of this and believes it is a good idea. It gives the residents an opportunity to ask questions and get answers that are straight from the horse’s mouth rather than a guesstimate. This should help with the public perception and credibility of the Road Commission in trying to get more information out to the residents. Mrs. Johnson responded that this is not a new program, as management and CCRC staff have visited many townships over the years for various reasons, sometimes at the township’s request; sometimes not. She believes it is a good way to reach out to the townships, especially now as we are trying to determine our 2006 roadwork list. She did emphasize how important it is that all staff are sending the same message to the townships and will continue to coordinate efforts in this regard. Commissioner Monaweck also commented that at these two meetings, one of the things that was brought up was potholes and the perception that our employees do not do a good job of pothole patching. He doesn’t believe that regardless of what we do, this perception will ever go away. He
mentioned that several months ago he passed on some publications to management on how to improve our methods for pothole repair but he did not know if they had been reviewed. Mrs. Johnson responded that she did receive the Corps of Engineers publications and is following up on that. She also stated that employees have attended a variety of training sessions not only on proper procedures for specific road commission operations, but also to instill a good work ethic and pride in the work that they perform each day as public servants. Commissioner Monaweck commented that he has also tried to convey to the public that they have a responsibility to report to the Road Commission office the problems they see while driving the roads. The standard answer he hears from the public is that they do not know where to call. He has informed them that there is an eight hundred number to call where their request is documented and routed to the appropriate department for follow-up. In an effort to go the extra mile in providing more information to the public, Commissioner Monaweck recommended that the Road Commission take out a half-page or quarter-page advertisement in our major newspapers as well as our local publications (i.e., Community Ad-Visor, Battle Creek Shopper) to publicize our eight hundred number. This way the public has no excuse not to call in their concerns. Commissioner Veramay commented that it is interesting and gladdening to see the public turnout here today, as he attends many County Board meetings with very little public in attendance. With regards to potholes, this is the time of year that we have potholes and we will continue to have them year after year and it will be June before we can get them straightened out. Our employees have been trained to prioritize our primary roads and because of that, we need the public’s help to identify problems on our local roads. Every call that comes in is entered into our computer system as a service request and is routed to our Supervisors. Crews are sent to respond as quickly as possible. Counties get the least amount of funding, dollars per mile, for road maintenance and repairs as compared to the cities and the State. Many cities levy an extra millage for road maintenance, as does Albion Township. We all want the same thing – good roads. SUPERVISORS’ & PUBLIC OFFICIALS’ TIME Mr. Hamaker, Marshall Township Supervisor, commented that when we have potholes, he calls them in to the Road Commission and within the next two days they are fixed. So if you use the phone and report the potholes, they’ll get fixed; but there are potholes on the same road that was just fixed and we will never win that battle. Mr. Frank, Albion Township Supervisor commented that the eight hundred number is not listed in the Albion phone book. Commissioner Monaweck replied that he gave the eight hundred number to Township Supervisors in the 517 area code so that they could include it in their publications to their residents. He suggested again that we publish this number in our major newspapers and local publications and also look at notifying the smaller telephone companies in the county. Mrs. Johnson added that the eight hundred number listed in the SBC Yellow Pages is incorrect and we continue to work with them to have this corrected. She also stated that all of our trucks and equipment have a large bumper sticker on them with the truck number and our eight hundred number. We have also worked with various townships that have newsletters to get that information out to residents. In the past, although not for the past few years since it is cost prohibitive, we have had an insert in the Community Ad-Visor that contained this same information as well as all of our printed materials including brochures, etc. Service requests can also be taken via our website. Mr. Frank noted that Albion Township publishes the eight hundred number in their newsletter, but he would still like to see it in the phone book.
Mr. Frank stated that Albion Township has done about 27 miles of road, since Dennis Randolph has been the Managing Director, with the 50/50 match program for local roads. Albion Township residents pay for one-half of the township match. Albion is trying to put a little extra on the roads this year. The more money you put in to the roads, the better the roads. Funding is getting harder and harder to come by. Commissioner Veramay added that he recently read where they are going to do away with revenue sharing in the next couple of years for the townships. It is getting to the point if you want anything done, the local people are going to have to pay for it. We have been taking money out of our primary system (30%) to cover the local roads and because of the condition that our primaries are getting in, that will have to stop and we will have to go back to the way we used to do things. If you want a road done in a township, the locals will have to pay for it. Mr. Frank asked when the township resolutions for roadwork needed to be in to the Road Commission. Mrs. Johnson replied that next week would be great and she appreciates him working with us to meet the deadline. Mr. Lingenfelter, Homer Township Supervisor, expressed his appreciation to the Road Commission for their visit to the Homer Township Board meeting last night. He stated that there were some complaints about potholes at last night’s meeting and a question was what constitutes a proper patch for a pothole. Dave Fuller responded that it depends on the pothole. Mr. Lingenfelter commented that he sees the trucks out filling potholes and he wants to know what the proper procedure is. Are some holes skipped because it takes a different kind of patch? Hershel Stacy commented that on normal potholes, all should be filled when patrol patching. The deeper potholes are cleaned out first with either a shovel or a broom, and then the hole is filled with cold patch. The patch compresses about ¼ inch per inch of material, so if the pothole is 4 inches deep, then about 5 inches of cold patch is used. Once the material is in, the pothole is rolled to compress the material. Drivers are told to clean out the deep holes and to back over them to pack down the material. There are thinner patches that we use two men and a bucket with oil and stone to fix. There are two different trucks for the two different materials: 1) cold patch and, 2) hot oil/stone. Mr. Lingenfelter asked if CCRC was sending four employees to do a two-man job. Mr. Stacy replied that no, each truck usually has two people. Crews are dispatched based on the type of problem and the material needed: cold patch or hot oil and stone. Sometimes, there are problem holes that require a lot of cold patch and then are sealed with the hot oil and stone. Mr. Lingenfelter asked what material is being used the most right now. Mr. Stacy responded that most holes are being filled with cold patch and need to be rolled. He informed Mr. Lingenfelter that if he sees CCRC employees that are not doing their job, please let him know so that he can follow-up with employees. Mr. Lingenfelter said that he doesn’t believe the patches are being packed down because he has cold patch all over his white truck. He has received complaints from residents that the material is not being packed down in the hole and within a few days it is back into the traffic since it was never compacted. Another complaint is that the material is scraped off the road when the snowplow comes through and the patch ends up in a resident’s yard. Mr. Stacy assured Mr. Lingenfelter that he and the other Supervisors would speak to the drivers about his concerns, first thing in the morning. They will stress that all patches need to be rolled and will let the drivers know we are getting complaints. Mrs. Johnson added that proper pothole patching is part of our employee training sessions. Mr. Lingenfelter also stated that he has seen the little gray pickup trucks driving around Homer Township but he did not know who it was or what they were doing. Mrs. Johnson responded that, with regards to the little gray pickup trucks that are driving around the county, all of our employees put in service requests when they see a problem on our roads and our Supervisors follow up on both the concern and the work done. This time of year, the only solutions to potholes are the two operations previously mentioned: cold patch and hot oil and stone. There are potholes throughout the county where the cold mix has worked just fine. There are others that get scraped off the road when snowplowing and then we have to go back to these areas. Mrs. Johnson emphasized that the consistent message that we send to our employees is to get the work done right the first time to avoid rework. Our employees have been trained on filling the potholes appropriately and packing them down so that material has a better chance of remaining in the hole. Steve Ball reiterated
that we do follow up on complaints that we receive. Jim Russell stated that we followed up on Commissioner Monaweck’s suggestion to blow out the holes prior to filling them. This is working. We have also filled holes that are full of water and have documented that this works too. The key is to this is that the cold patch must be compacted in order for it to stick. Employees are trained not to fill the hole too high or it may get scraped off the road. Mr. Russell reiterated that even using hot mix is not a permanent fix. You will still get potholes that will crack outside of the hole and no patch will last forever. We are trying the suggestions that have been given to us and we need everyone’s cooperation to contact our office with problem spots. We have a great system that allows us to track complaints. Commissioner Veramay mentioned that up until just a few years ago, heavy trucks were not allowed to drive on our local roads. It was against the law for a semi-truck to get off on anything but a Class A road, except for an in and out delivery. Our legislature saw fit to change that and now heavy trucks can drive on most any roads and they are doing damage to our roads. It may not be apparent right now but when a heavy truck drives on a road and cracks it, moisture can get in and with a freeze and thaw cycle the road is damaged. All of us that live in Calhoun County are paying the price for that. Until something can be done about this, it will not get any better. Discussion continued. Mr. Irons, Athens Township Supervisor, stated that he asked at the township meeting the other night if some of the berm could be pulled in to get some of the water off roads. There are still a lot of trees that need to be trimmed, and just like everyone else they have their certain amount of potholes. Steve Ball informed him that our crews are on 4 ½ Mile Road in Athens Township today working on berm and ditching at the Township’s request. Mr. Irons stated that if any calls come into the county about this, refer them to the township. Mr. Spoor, Burlington Township Supervisor, stated that a lot of their roads look like floor registers. One thing that concerns him is the contract that will be acted on at the next meeting. Chairman Travis informed him that there would be some information at the next meeting about the contracts. Mr. Spoor asked if there would be any action taken at the next meeting. Chairman Travis responded no. Mr. Spoor stated that he would make comments today about the contract. At the last meeting he attended, residents were asked by the Board to send a letter stating their concerns. One Burlington Township resident sent a letter and received a threatening letter from the Director. Chairman Travis asked for clarification regarding what was in the letter from the resident. Was it regarding the contract and suggestions on what should be in it? Mr. Spoor replied that yes, comments were made in the letter about what was in the contract and what was done. The response letter to the resident is not good practice for anyone since the Board asked for letters from residents. Chairman Travis explained that suggestions were being sought for the new contract, not comments on the old contract – we know what is wrong with the old one. Mr. Spoor commented that with the times, the Road Commission is pretty tight on money; therefore, he does not think that at this time there should be any proposed raises or increases and he does not think the Road Commission should get into a lengthy contract, not knowing what is coming down the road next year. He believes the Road Commission would be better off if they have a short-term relationship with any employees they can do so with. Commissioner Veramay clarified that when dealing with contracts, we look at the other 82 counties in the State. We look at a lot of other contracts that other administrators, engineers, employees, etc., have and this is what we base our decisions on. We have to look at other road commissions and their contracts with their employees. The salaries paid to employees are part of the whole Road Commission operation. We signed a contract with our employees for five years and Commissioner Veramay noted that he did not see anyone in here objecting at that time. He emphasized that you cannot hire someone half as good to come in and do the job because we can’t pay them. Commissioner Veramay asked Mr. Spoor how many contracts he has looked at. Mr. Spoor responded that he is probably not intelligent enough to figure them out. Commissioner Veramay stated that he believes it is only fair that Mr. Spoor make a comparison with a number of other contracts from other agencies just like this agency. We meet
with our County Association in work sessions to go over all of these things to find out our parameters. He emphasized that if Mr. Spoor would check other contracts, he would find that our administrator is not paid at the top level. Mr. Spoor responded that if he is running a business and cannot afford to pay somebody more money than what he is bringing in, if he is broke than he isn’t going to give them a raise this year or next year. Commissioner Veramay informed him that we would operate within our budget constraints. Mr. Lingenfelter informed the Board that he recently attended a Michigan Township Association meeting in Grand Rapids where townships talked about going broke this year and the lack of funding. He agrees with Mr. Spoor that money can’t be spent that isn’t there. Mr. Lingenfelter has looked at contracts and dealt with unions in the past. Everybody should have a pay raise; however, if the Road Commission budget doesn’t allow it, it should not be done because the townships and everybody else will suffer. Commissioner Veramay emphasized that he would feel a lot better if Mr. Lingenfelter had examined the Mental Health Director, Health Director and County Administrator’s contract and made a comparison there as we are dealing with the same group of people, prior to coming to this meeting. He stated that the Road Commissioners are here to run this organization and the bottom line is that this Board is going to make this decision in the end on employee salaries from the employee contracts to the top administrator. Mrs. Johnson inquired of Mr. Spoor if his comments are his own or on behalf of Burlington Township. Mr. Spoor responded that he believes that the majority of people in Burlington Township agree with his comments. Mrs. Johnson asked if that includes the Burlington Township Board members. Mr. Spoor replied that he cannot speak for the other Board members but he is speaking for himself although he is representing a lot of the residents of Burlington Township. Mrs. Johnson clarified with Mr. Spoor that his comments today on the contracts are as a resident of Burlington Township. She noted that otherwise we would find documentation in the Burlington Township Board minutes in terms of his comments regarding the contracts. Mr. Spoor stated that he has not brought the contracts to the Burlington Township Board. Creighton Burrows commented that what we are witnessing here today is the beginning of the collapse of our government. It is going to happen because we are going to run out of money. There has never been a democracy that has survived very long because of just what is going on here. He asked Commissioner Veramay if he heard him right that Calhoun County gets less money than other counties in the State. Commissioner Veramay clarified that no, that is not what he said. Calhoun County gets the same funding as any other county in the State. The cities and State are getting a bigger share of the gas tax per mile than the counties for road maintenance. Mr. Burrows said that the only way we will get any resolution to the funding problems is for the citizens to contact their State Representatives and Senators to let them know this is not fair and funding should be divided up equally. We pay the same gas tax as everyone else. A city should not get more money to maintain their roads. We need to talk to our representatives, as there is a move on right now in this State to do away with the township form of government. We need to get back in control since local government has more power than State government as far as it coming from the people. Comments continued. Richard Harvey, Bedford Township Trustee, clarified that the contract has a clause that allows both sides to open the contract at any time. If this is the case, then what is the problem? Why shorten the contract if it can be opened at any time. Commissioner Travis replied that there are repercussions if the contract is reopened – it is open for negotiating. Mr. Harvey stated that he has been a union president for a long time. If there is a clause allowing the contract to be opened by either side, the time period of the contract doesn’t matter. Commissioner Veramay does not see any problem with the contract and informed everyone that our attorney is also reviewing the contract. It was clarified that the Road Commission’s original attorney drew up the original contract. The new contract is being reviewed by a different labor attorney.
Mike Heisler, Clarence Township Resident, inquired if the Board received a letter from the Calhoun County Farm Bureau regarding the legislative seminar scheduled for next Tuesday. The Commissioners responded that they had received the information. Mr. Heisler asked what is the difference in what the townships get for road maintenance versus the cities. Is there a specific dollar or cents amount? If there is a disparity, we need to be talking to our representatives to get this balanced out. You need to have some specific numbers together before talking to our representatives. Mrs. Johnson noted that she could get some information on this to Mr. Heisler. With regards to the contracts, Mr. Heisler asked if the contracts from other counties are available to be reviewed here. Commissioner Veramay replied that anyone can do a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to those counties to get that information, but we do not have those contracts here – Commissioners have reviewed these at various work sessions that they have attended. Gardy Berezonsky, Marengo Township Resident, asked Mrs. Johnson whom she spoke with regarding funding to townships for telecommunications. She responded that she spoke with the County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM). Mr. Berezonsky clarified that CRAM is not a government agency but a lobbyist organization and their response is only their opinion. He would rather have a government agency’s opinion than a lobbyist. Mrs. Johnson replied that in addition to contacting CRAM, she has contacted Senator Schauer’s office, but has not yet heard back from his office. Mr. Berezonsky asked if the Road Commission checks to make sure those contractors are licensed in the State of Michigan before they subcontract work to them. Mrs. Johnson replied that yes, we do, as part of our competitive bidding process but she will double check to make sure this is being done. Commissioner Veramay added that if Mr. Berezonsky is aware of someone that has done business with us that doesn’t fit that category, we would sure like to know about it. Joe Bramble, Convis Township Resident, noted that it was brought up at the meeting last night that there is water in the road at the intersection of 15 Mile Road and P Drive North. Also, the Convis Township Board passed the resolution for roadwork this year. Lynn Smith, Convis Township Resident, stated that he has some trees that he would like cut. Also, 6 Mile Road from Athens looks good where the boom mower was out trimming trees and brush. There are some potholes on L Drive between 15 and 16 Mile Road and he noted that trees hanging over the road could cause potholes. Larry Crandall, Bedford Township Resident, complimented the Road Commission for the work done last Friday evening on St. Mary’s Lake Road. He noted a problem with the shoulder on North Avenue and the crushed concrete going into residents’ yards. Also, he informed the Board that his wife was recently in an accident and hit a mailbox that was cemented into the ground. He provided pictures of the accident in which the vehicle was totaled. He asked who is responsible for the mailbox in the right-ofway. Robert Volkmer, CCRC Supervisor, noted that this is the homeowner’s responsibility. Mrs. Johnson added that we continue to address problems in the right-of-way. Anything placed in our rightof-way must be break away. CCRC tries to be proactive and provides information for new construction on what is allowed in the right-o-way. We also make considerable efforts to police the right-of-way and address all issues when they are brought to our attention. Commissioner Veramay added that mailboxes, landscaping, etc., in the right-of-way can be safety hazards and it is very difficult to educate the public on the road right-of-way. Mrs. Johnson asked Mr. Crandall if the Road Commission could use his photographs to help educate the public. He responded yes. Mr. Frank inquired about the statement made that CCRC has been taking money out of our primary system (30%) to cover the local roads. He asked what the cost is to reconstruct a roadway. Kevin
Henning, CCRC Finance Director informed him that a reconstruction costs between $200,000 and $250,000 per mile. Costs have quadrupled in the past five years. Discussion took place on the road right-of-way. Commissioner Veramay stated that property owners do not own the right-of-way, 33 feet from the center of the road. They are not taxed for any right-of-way. Mr. Spoor argued that the property owner’s deed says the property owner does own to the center of the road. Mr. Burrows agreed with Mr. Spoor. The next regular meeting of the Calhoun County Road Commission Board is scheduled for Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. There being no additional business before the Board, Chairperson Travis adjourned the meeting at 10:15 a.m.
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