SAUGATUCK, MI (WHTC) - Let the finger-pointing in the Saugatuck area continue.
The dispute over merging the municipal governments of Saugatuck and Douglas goes on, after an attempted joint fact-finding effort by the pro-merger Consolidated Government Committee and the anti-merger Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities broke down yesterday, two weeks after it had begun.
When the two parties began this effort on April 30, a statement at that time said that, "representatives of both groups will work together to analyze costs savings that may result from the proposed consolidation of the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck, compared to the costs associated with operating two separate governmental units. In addition to financial analysis expertise on the part of the two committees, the effort will include outside accounting resources."
On Monday, the CGC released another statement: "The citizens group opposing consolidation (not mentioning the CICC by name at all in the statement) will not participate, as had been agreed to and jointly announced ... 'We were given no rationale for the change of heart,' said Travis Randolph, chairman of the CGC."
Matt Balmer of the CICC responded to that in a statement today: "These claims are inaccurate ... on May 8, a representative for the CICC met with members of the CGC ... to find out if the CGC was willing ... to use an independent firm to do the analysis ... (and) would be willing to wait until the State Boundary Commission made an official ruling on the boundaries to be consolidated. These questions were IN NO WAY (Balmer's capitalization) considered to be an ultimatum; at no point did the CICC say that if these considerations were not met that the CICC would not participate in a joint venture...it was the CGC that decided not to participate at this time, NOT (Balmer's capitalization) the CICC."
The CGC said that it would continue its own cost analysis that would be complete by the time the state Boundary Commission holds a public hearing on a proposed ballot initiative for a merger, slated for June 20 at Saugatuck High School.