Letter to the Village of Bear Lake Council

From: Jeanne Walsh
Date: August 14, 2018 at 3:34:15 PM EDT
To: “Cindi McPherson, Clerk” <bearlakeclerk@gmail.com>
Cc: jeffbair4@gmail.com
Subject: Public Comment on Draft Minutes from July Village Council

[the Village does not publish Draft Minutes until they are approved – through a FOIA Subscription Bear Lake News receives a copy usually within the 8 business days required under the Michigan Open Meetings Act]

Hi Cindi,
Please read the following during the initial Public Comment section at the beginning of the August Village Council Meeting this week:Having read the Draft Minutes of the July Village Council Meeting, my comments at the end of the meeting are not accurately referenced in the Minutes. I know the Council no longer audio tapes the meetings so we assume that this was an oversight on the part of the Clerk. We have an audiotape of the meeting and an audiotape is also available at Bear Lake Independent News for your reference to verify what was said.Our comments had to do with how the lack of information on the website puts nonresident taxpayers at a disadvantage and contributes to what the Council refers to as “misinformation”. We did in fact point out that we pay higher taxes as nonresidents and use less services and that by purchasing a home here, we chose to do that. We used, as an example, the suggestion that Council members talk to their neighbors to correct misinformation which does not permit this information to get to nonresident taxpayers as it is not posted on the website. We also referenced, as an example, the ISO issue by indicating that if the new rating is not included in the November 2019 Minutes, we will not be aware of the rating change and the need to contact our homeowners insurance company.

Yet another recent example is the Sewer Meeting held by the Village last month. This was an excellent meeting and clarified a lot of misinformation that had been circulating for quite some time. Thank you to the Council for their efforts in coordinating this meeting. However, the fact that there was documentation of any of the issues presented and discussed at this meeting, much less posted to the website, is a perfect example of how issues affecting taxpayers, especially nonresident taxpayers, are not published on the website for reference and to correct “misinformation”. Had we not been present in the Village, we would not have been privy to issues that potentially have a significant financial impact on us as this information has not been made available on the Village website.

As we mentioned at the last meeting, nonresident taxpayers pay a higher tax rate and use less services while bringing needed revenue into the local economy. We are, by law covered by existing OMA regulations yet by virtue of being nonresidents without access to postings at the Village Hall and Library, we do not have access to vital information.

We are asking that the Village Council begin to take this segment of taxpayers into account by making important information available on the Village website. We appreciate the efforts the Council has made by holding Community meetings to correct misinformation on major projects in the Village. We are also respectfully requesting that the Village Council amend the Draft Minutes of the July meeting to accurately reflect the concern we addressed about the lack of availability of critical information on the website for the benefit of nonresident taxpayers.

Thank you,
Jeanne and Lee Vission

In an effort to ensure all Village residents and tax payers have a full financial picture of municipal transactions, as a media service we file a renewing 6 month FOIA subscription to receive all documents discussed at regular, special, committee or Commission meetings. In essence to allow anyone who is unable to attend in person the same access as those physically present.

The last actual Operating Budget by Line Item report we have received was in May for April 2018

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