Board approves funds for community services

Final approval of $17,000 is split among 11 groups.
The Laketown Township Board of Trustees approved $17,000 for contracted services on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

The Laketown Township Board of Trustees approved funds for services from area community groups on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

“We are not an island with a moat around us,” said Supervisor Linda Howell about the contracted services. “We’re part of a community.”

The board voted 3-2 to allocate $17,000 in funds to the following groups:

Evergreen Commons (a place for older adults to live active lives) — $4,000; Holland American Legion Band — $500; Holland Fireworks — $1,775; Seventy X Seven (restoring the lives of people affected by incarceration) — $1,000; Resilience (formerly known as the Center for Women in Transition) — $2,000; Reach for Recovery (helps recovering addicts) – $1,000; Allegan County Legal Assistance (helps with civil issues including divorce, personal protection, child support, landlord-tenant and guardianship) — $1,725; Holland Chorale — $500; Escape Ministries (intervenes in the lives of youth who fall through the cracks) — $2,000; Holland Symphony — $500; FellinLove Farm (a family farm in Laketown Township for all ages and abilities) — $2,000.

Board discussion

Clerk Amber Davis introduced on Wednesday her suggestion for funding which lowered some payments and increased others from the original proposal. FellinLove Farm, for example, increased from $1,000 to $2,000 while Evergreen Commons dropped from $5,000 to $4,000. Her proposal ultimately passed.

She said the township cannot directly provide the services these groups offer.

“By supporting these, we’re supporting our residents,” she said.

Trustee Patrick Dietrich, who supported the final vote, was concerned about the overall cost and that the money could be spent on other township issues, such as fire department funding.

“I would just like to save a few dollars,” he said.

Overall, the board is spending $1,000 less than the original $18,000 proposal made by township Manager Al Meshkin. The township has been paying for these contracted services for many years.

If the township allocates these funds next year, Dietrich said the distribution should be based on need.

Contracts

Treasurer Jim Johnson, who voted against the funding, struggled with the issue, saying the contracts “feel like a donation,” something townships are not allowed by law to do.

All the groups who receive money have individual contracts approved by the township attorney. The contracts spell out what services are supplied to township residents, something that is legal.

Johnson said other communities do not have as many contracted services as Laketown does.

Trustee Jim Delaney opposed the motion as well. He said the group FellinLove Farm should get money from Laketown’s American Rescue Plan Act distribution.

The township contributed $50,000 in ARPA funds in December 2023 to the Community Enhancement Program, a group that distributes grants that support the common good in the community. Groups can apply for the money. The CEP is part of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Committee. Laketown is a member along with Holland and Zeeland cities and Fillmore, Holland, Olive, Park, Port Sheldon and Zeeland townships.

In March, the board agreed to have the groups requesting money make presentations to the board in April and May.