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Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners start discussing spending relief money with special meeting planned on Wednesday

Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners is starting over after months of controversy involving voting to award themselves tens of thousands of COVID-19 relief dollars
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 11:16 PM EDT
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After months of controversy involving the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners voting to award themselves tens of thousands of COVID-19 relief dollars, the board is starting over.

”I can make you a couple of guarantees. One is that we’ll be as open as possible, and two, I can guarantee that not everyone will be happy because that is impossible,” chairman Gregory Brodeur said. Brodeur was voted chairman after former chairman Jeremy Root resigned.

After community outcry, several resignations, and the repayment of the funds, the board of commissioners is including the public as they decide how to spend millions of dollars in rescue funds.

The only decision on Monday night was to move a discussion to the committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday, one that could pay seven people in middle management positions $5,000 each.

Before doing that, they’ll be working to build back trust in the community.

The Shiawassee County Board Finance Committee is sharing an idea for spending a small portion of American Rescue Plan Funding, Their proposal is awarding seven people with a $5,000 payment each. These would not be elected officials, top level employees, or department heads. They’d be heads of units within major departments.

Even so, one longtime Shiawassee County resident says it needs to be transparent and fair across the board.

“We need to know who these individuals are, why is it being dispersed, how is this amount determined, and is it appropriate for the positions they’re in?” Anthony Karhoff said.

Karhoff is telling the board if they want to rebuild trust in the community, they need to remove themselves from the equation and instead set up a committee separate from the commissioners to listen to the community and make recommendations to the board.

“I do not see that public trust is gained by hiding behind a committee where no one knows members, how they were picked, or anything else. The way to gain public trust, as I said when I was elected chair, was to handle things in an open way and based on professionalism, not personality,” Brodeur said.

The discussion will continue during Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting at 4:00. Karhoff says he hopes to see a big turnout.

“I’m just asking people to show up to the meetings. We need public input. We need the public to speak up and let their voices and opinions be heard,” Karhoff said.

Other ideas are already coming up for improvements in the long run like replacing the roof of the jail, upgrading internet access, and fixing the roads, but don’t expect anything to be voted on until Thursday’s regular meeting.

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