ST. JOSEPH — Legalized marijuana is now a reality in Michigan, but St. Joseph Township isn’t in any hurry to deal with the issue.
Township Board members briefly discussed Proposal 1 – which allows the drug’s recreational use and sale – in Monday’s workshop, but didn’t reach a consensus about dealing with its passage, Township Manager Denise Cook said.
“We didn’t get that far. We’ll see what the outcome is, and go from there. It’s all new territory for everyone,” Cook said.
Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved the measure Tuesday with about 2.1 million supporting it, and 1.7 million opposing it.
The issue wasn’t on Monday’s agenda, but that didn’t stop residents Gary Young and Juliann Swingler from pleading with the board to take a tough line against the drug.
Young said, during public comments, he hoped the board wouldn’t allow marijuana sales in the township.
“I know that you might be able to make some money off it, but for the sake of the residents of the township, please avoid whatever you can if this proposal goes through,” he said.
Swingler said her late husband began physically abusing her after a friend introduced him to the drug. Her injuries included a broken finger and a split nose, she said.
“A few weeks later, he got loud and violent, and he pushed me in the corner. He was loud before, but he wasn’t hurting me,” she said.
Swingler left her husband four years ago. She said if her experience is any sign, Proposal 1s passage isn’t a good idea.
“I don’t think it should be allowed for just anybody to have it because most people are going to misuse the stuff,” Swingler said. “And then, there’ll be more (people) being hurt.”
In other business, the board approved several adjustments to its budget, which it’s ready to adopt next month.
The board set a public hearing on the 2019 budget for 6:05 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at the Township Hall, 3000 Washington Ave., St. Joseph.
Notable adjustments included a $47,000 transfer to the Fire Department Improvement Fund, which increases to $162,120, and $129,550 for principal payments to that fund – which is now $242,920.
The board approved $47,000 for the capital improvement fund, which was previously zero; $41,650 for the Building Department, now $179,202; and $9,700 more for liquor law enforcement, now set at $14,200.
The $129,550 adjustment reflects the final payments on a $175,000 loan for Fire Station No. 2 along Colfax Ave., Cook said.
“That’s paid off, and now, we’ll be collecting money for our new fire improvement millage – so we’ll be starting fresh now,” she said.
The $47,000 puts money back into the capital improvement fund, while the additional liquor law enforcement money covers inspections that police officers handle, on top of their regular duties, Cook said.
The board set annual salaries for Township Supervisor Roger Seely at $18,030; Township Clerk Patrice Rose and Township Treasurer Dave Vonk at $17,427 each; and township trustees at $5,412.
The increases are about 2 percent over last year’s amounts, in keeping with current practice, Cook said.
The board approved an electrical easement at Quality Dining Inc., which owns the Burger King property at 2501 Washington Ave.
Cook said the easement will allow the township to use Quality Dining’s electricity so it can place an updated, electric welcome sign on the property’s north side.
“We had a sign there before. Our Public Works Department is pouring the concrete slab for it, so it should be going up pretty soon,” she said.
Rose designed the sign, which will cost about $7,500, Cook said. The township will settle the electricity costs annually with Quality Dining at the end of the year.
Lastly, the board kept the first Monday for its 2019 meeting schedule, except for September, which it set for Sept. 9 or a week after Labor Day.