Assyria Township, Michigan -- Assyria Township is the least assessed, lowest taxed township in Barry County, according to township Supervisor Mike Timmons.
"We primarily dig holes to bury people," Timmons said during Monday's board meeting. "We facilitate voting and facilitate tax paying and that's about it."
During the meeting, board members voted to increase the pay they receive as elected township officials.
The changes were prompted by a national inflation rate of 1.9 percent, they said.
Compared to the last fiscal year, the supervisor will now make $7,830 annually, a $1,067 increase. The clerk will make $10,791, a $1,354 increase. The treasurer will make $12,270, a $1,479 increase. The two trustees will make $1,450, a $57 increase.
These changes were made in the wake of a study done by former Barry County Commissioner Joyce Snow, who collected information on all the townships in the county and recently shared those findings with township officials.
According to Snow's study, compared to Assyria, last year Woodland Township was the next lowest for the supervisor's pay rate, at $7,048.99, and for the trustee, at $1,114.20; but other elected officials -- $13,756.18 for the clerk, $14,916.65 for the treasurer -- tracked higher.
Trustee Eugene Waterbury proposed a pay increase that exceeded one based on inflation and, instead, based the hikes on the information in Snow's study. He said his recommendation was made with the intention of bringing Assyria Township in line with the amounts paid to other township officials in the county.
"I'm not running again," Waterbury said, "but, personally, I think all you guys need a pay raise."
During the discussion, the township board compared issues such as infrastructure and average hourly pay to employees in townships of similar sizes.
Barry County Board of Commissioner Chairwoman Heather Wing, who attended and represents District 7, which includes Assyria Township, pointed out that, as chairwoman of the county board, she makes $12,106.
"But I only go there (to Hastings for county commission meetings) four times a month," she said.
The township also discussed its plan of action if a storm knock out power in Assyria Township for an extended period of time.
"Last month I asked people to think about what we want to do if the power goes out," Timmons said referring to other board members. "We have a standby generator primarily to help support this community should stuff go bad."
He expressed his concern for those residents who don't have generators.
"What if a storm comes, and part of the township loses power for three or four days or more?" Timmons asked. "They don't have water, they don't have heat. Now lots of people don't have a generator."
"One of the primary problems with not having power in a non-horse driven society is we depend on electricity for well water. And without the water we don't drink, we dehydrate and die."
Timmons' proposal to the board was that the township establish a plan that would allow township residents who don't have generators to come to the township hall for heat and water during power outage situations.
"If we lose power here, we have the ability to help people with a warming station and water," he said. "But the question then remains: Who does what when?
Timmons asked each board member to come up with a draft plan for a township response if a power outage occurs.
"Then we can take all five of them and juxtapose them and see what we got," he said.
The next township meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3.
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