by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
The Owosso City Council approved a resolution allowing members of the Owosso Parks and Recreation Commission to live outside the city’s limits.
During the Monday, Sept. 21 virtual city council meeting, an amendment to the city ordinance to allow members of the Parks and Rec Commission to live outside of the city limits was unanimously approved. Council members hope to broaden the scope of potential commission members to now include people from outside of the area who may have an interest and/or motivation to participate.
In a memorandum provided from Owosso Assistant City Manager Amy Fuller, it is stated, “Over the last few years, two members of the Parks and Recreation Commission moved outside of the city limits. These individuals still use the City of Owosso parks and have expressed interest in seeing the rules changed to allow for commission membership from outside the city limits. This change would be in-line with Owosso Historical Commission (OHC) guidelines which allow for residents from outside the City of Owosso to serve.” There are seven positions on the Parks and Rec Commission.
Owosso resident and city council candidate, Mike Cline, voiced strong opposition to approving the change. Cline explained he did not think people from outside the city should be permitted to decide how Owosso tax money is used, particularly regarding the recent passage of the millage that saw more funding being dispersed to Parks and Rec. Approved by voters in November 2018, the 1.0 mill was to support both city parks and historical sites.
Owosso Mayor Chris Eveleth stated that the Parks and Rec Commission only makes advisory recommendations on spending to council, so all expenditures still have to be approved through “the taxing authority which is the city council.”
Eveleth admitted to the challenge of finding people interested in serving on the commission. Under state regulations, there are some city commissions where allowing outside people is not permitted. However, the Owosso Historical Commission had previously eliminated a similar requirement, which was acceptable under state law. The Parks and Rec allowance is akin to OHC.
Council member Janae Fear shared she had seen how Parks and Rec has had difficulty in making quorums for meetings and so she was willing to support community members at-large to assist in serving. Council member Nick Pidek mentioned Carol Vaughn’s service on the Owosso Historical Commission as an example of someone from outside the city, remaining involved and having “a lot of skin in the game.”