By Matt Schepeler
Should the Brooklyn village government be dissolved? Is it a layer of government that does not need to exist?
Do residents want the village government to continue? What services would be lost if the government were disbanded? What would have to happen to do it?
Those are questions that will likely be discussed at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 4 at the Brooklyn Super 8 banquet room.
In October Brooklyn businessman Tom Knutson said he had enough when the village approved a contract to purchase a $20,000 fence to encircle the DPW garage “that residents didn’t want in the first place.” Knutson has since been consulting a lawyer about disbanding the village.
Can this be done? Yes, but it wouldn’t be easy. It has been attempted in the state a few times, but never been accomplished.
It would have to start with a petition. To get the question on the ballot would only require getting 15 percent of registered voters to sign the petition. According to Columbia Township Clerk Barry Marsh, there are 982 registered voters in Brooklyn, meaning that organizers would have to get 148 signatures to place the issue on a ballot. “That would be no big deal,” said Knutson.
Once on the ballot, passing the measure would require two-thirds of the voter’s approval.
Knutson said that he believes the previous attempts in Michigan to dissolve village governments failed because those residents did not want to lose fire and police services.
“You don’t have that issue here, because the township already handles those,” he said.
He also stresses that the water and sewer systems would not go away, but servicing them could be contracted out by the township, which would assume oversight of the village’s assets should the government be dissolved.
“You are looking at a big, big tax savings in the end,” said Knutson. The village has a nearly $4 million budget.
Knutson said that he received “a lot” of interest from Brooklyn residents about his proposal, and wants to discuss it further. The public meeting is slated for Dec. 4, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Brooklyn Super 8. Knutson noted that this is not a government meeting, and he is inviting people both for and against the idea to attend to discuss the proposal.