The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners has taken action to expand the St. Joseph County Board of County Road Commissioners from its current three-member configuration to five.
In action Tuesday (March 15th), commissioners adopted a resolution authorizing the expansion “with one of the new member’s term to expire December 31, 2013 and the other new member’s term to expire December 31, 2015.”
In introducing the agenda item, Board Chairman Rick Shaffer noted that the subject has been under consideration “for a number of months,” including a public hearing during the board’s March 1st meeting. He then asked Road Commission Manager Louis Csokasy to provide some background and “share where we are at this point.”
In his remarks, Csokasy endorsed the expansion and noted that he has experience as a member of an expanded board and working as a manager under a five-member board. In his words, “I’ve had experience working on both sides of that particular question.” (Louis_Csokasy_audio clip – :22)
In his presentation, Csokasy cited “two primary reasons” for supporting the expansion:
- To provide the manager with “sounding boards” through the use of committees that can be established under the five-member board
- To avoid the domination of the board by one strong individual, something he said happens with smaller boards.
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Allen Balog said he agreed with the points Csokasy made in support of the larger board. He said, “It makes total, complete sense, but I’m struggling with it. If you’re following Lansing and if you’re following what the governor is doing, local government is under attack and I think that the way we do business is going to change drastically and I can’t support expanding local government at this time so I’m going to vote ‘no.’”
Adoption of the resolution came on a 5-to-1 vote with Balog dissenting. Rick Shaffer, John Dobberteen, Jerry Loudenslager, Jerry Ware and Robin Baker voted in favor of the resolution. Commissioner Donald Eaton was absent.
In addressing Balog after the vote, Csokasy said, “I appreciate your candor, sir.” He said he was in Lansing last week, heard the governor speak, and indicated that things talked about there are are starting to be put in place locally. He noted the arrangement under which he is managing road commissions in both Cass and St. Joseph counties. Csokasy also said, “There’s not going to be additional funding for roads.”
In conversation before the vote, Commissioner Ware mentioned that the Road Commission has a new website. Csokasy acknowledged that addition on the technology front and said, “The website, St. Joe Roads, is new and it’s getting a few hits and we’re pretty pleased with it.”
To hear Csokasy’s presentation to the board, click here (3:26 – 3.15 MB).
To visit the new St. Joseph County Road Commission website, go to www.stjoeroads.com.