By Sue Moore
An attempt at formal cooperation among the Village of Vicksburg and townships of Schoolcraft and Brady may be coming to an end.
Vicksburg’s Village Council voted last month to secede from the 10-year-old advisory South County Intergovernmental Committee. The reasons, according to some officials, appear to involve lack of interest and little to talk about.
The committee met late in June for the first time in more than a year, although committee by-laws call for four meetings a year. They also require a one-year notice to each participating governmental office, before the committee can be formally dissolved.
At the time the South County Intergovernmental Committee (SCIC) was formed in 2005, the village and township were working on a 425 land agreement that would benefit both entities; the village would provide municipal services to property that is currently known as the Renda addition to the village on 22nd St.
It took several years to cobble together an additional “growth management agreement,” which was completed in 2008. It stipulated that the committee would meet to discuss such items as annexation requests, availability of sewer and water services, public recreation, parks and police protection over the next ten years. The committee does the studying, listening and eventually, recommending. It has no formal decision-making power.
Brady Township was added to the committee in 2011, thus shifting the voting power on the committee to the townships. Each of the three bodies can appoint three members to the advisory council. A majority vote is required to make a recommendation.
At the June meeting of the advisory committee, Rob Peterson, a village representative asked why committee meetings seemed “to peter out.” Don Ulsh, committee chairman and Schoolcraft Township supervisor, answered: “After the village of Vicksburg got the 425 agreement for the Renda development they lost interest and ideas.”
There was also a lack of other business to attend to, according to Dave Reno, a Schoolcraft Township appointee.
Long-time members of the committee such as Ken Hovenkamp of Schoolcraft Township and Gary Miller and Lee Philport of Brady Township, listed several benefits to cooperation for new members:
- Cost savings through sharing of mowing equipment or staff to mow the cemeteries
- Procurement advantages through economies of scale
- Possible extension of police departments with the townships
* Handling boundary disputes or agreements
* Changing the culture among the communities to make cooperation effective.
After the Village Council meeting, Manager Ken Schippers issued some talking points suggesting that cooperation was still possible:
- The Village of Vicksburg hopes in the future to work with the other area communities and townships to create a new collaborative agreement that provides for cost-cutting efforts, employee training opportunities, and further support of the nature trail system without restricting job growth for area families.
- Our efforts to benefit the village and surrounding communities to work together to strengthen the economic base, bring jobs to area residents, and provide scenic, natural areas to live will continue.
- Vicksburg is also concerned that the existing intergovernmental agreement purports to transfer final decision making on support of all boundary changes from the village council to an intergovernmental committee and that such transfer may exceed what is permitted under state law.
The intergovernmental committee in June scheduled a July 22 meeting. It was not convened.
The committee could continue to function without the village’s participation.