To the editor: Community members raise concerns over millage proposal

To the editor,

The Nov. 6, 2018, Morton Township ballot will include a 0.5 millage request for five years to fund operations for the Mecosta County Youth and Family Center. Please consider the following: 0.5 mills for five years will total $679,875; Morton Township is the only township in Mecosta County paying a millage to support the center, yet some youth attending the center do not reside in the township; and the youth center received approximately $130,000 for operations for 2018; however, during the 2017-18 school year:

• There was no website or organized communication informing residents about the program or how to enroll. Flyers were dispersed to some schools.

• Millage funds for 2018 were requested with the stated goal to “curb juvenile delinquency.” No statistics on juvenile delinquency issues in either Morton Township or Mecosta County have been provided.

• The center was open eight hours a week (3 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, following the school calendar). It was open a total of 36 hours between June 7, 2018, and Aug. 28, 2018 (13 weeks).

• The salary for the part-time program director is $29,867. The program director is not a Morton Township resident, but lives one and a half hours away.

• In spite of multiple requests, no records of attendance during the school year or summer camps have been provided. Verbally, it has been stated “maybe” 40 youth attend per week, or an average of four to 10 per day during the school year. Attendance at summer camps is not known.

• No program goals, objectives or lesson plans have been provided for academic assistance or social skills development which are aimed at the stated goal of reducing juvenile delinquency. There is no line item in the 2018 budget for educational materials and supplies.

• Nearly 50 percent, $60,000, of the millage has been budgeted for a sports/soccer field, in spite of little evidence the township needs or wants one. Because Morton Township is located in a winter climate, this field won’t be usable for most of the school year.

• The ultimate decision-making authority is the board of directors. Four of the board members are related. One of them is the part-time program director, who should be advising and reporting to the board, not a voting member.

As Morton Township taxpayers, we feel you should have all pertinent information related to a proposal that could affect your taxes for the next five years.

Katherine Small for Concerned Citizens group

ConcernedCitizensMT@gmail.com

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