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Take over? Or not?

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- Another public hearing was held Thursday as the Berrien County Board of Commissioners works to decide if it will take over the county road commission.

“I think there’s an agenda behind this,” one citizen said.

“I don’t want just one person making the decisions,” Michigan State Representative Kim LaSata said.

“I believe it’s time for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners to assume control of the road commission,” another person said.

“I don’t think you’re capable of taking it over and running it any better than what’s already being run,” said another citizen.

“I don’t think that the county needs to replace the road commission.”

A lot of opinions were offered at Thursday’s public hearing, as county commissioners loom over a big decision.

“I believe that if we can get more money to the roads and we can be more responsive to people’s needs, I think it’s a good idea,” said Commissioner Jon Hinkelman, who serves as board chairman.

But the majority of citizens who spoke up on Thursday disagree.

Many wonder what a takeover would mean for the road commission and how it functions day to day.

But Hinkelman said it could help; because the road commission is battling limited funding and a takeover could mean access to other county resources.

LaSata, who lives in Berrien County, said she worries handing over control could compromise a road commission that’s been in place for over 100 years.

“My concern is if the county commission decides to take over the road commission, we won’t have as much transparency,” she said.

The county commissioners voted Thursday to draft a few possible resolutions that they will look over before the next public hearing on September 7.

As of right now, no formal decision has been made.

It’s also worth mentioning that there were no road commission members present at Thursday’s hearing.

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