Odessa Township: What is Township Government?

 People often think of city, village, county and township governments as the same. Although there may be some similarities, the structure and responsibility of each government is by law and practice quite different and distinct. If you are receiving this letter, you are a taxpayer of Odessa Township. If you own property in the Village of Lake Odessa, your property is also in the township. For most of you, your Odessa Township Board is the closest form of government to you.

        Odessa Township is one of 1,242 townships in the state of Michigan.  By state law, townships have limited powers as provided or fairly implied by state law. Your Odessa Township Board is made up of five elected members: Supervisor Robert Cobb, Treasurer Sharon Rohrbacher, Clerk Lisa Williams, and two trustees, Mark Doane and Robert Kruisenga. Elections for the board members take place every four years; the most recent was in 2008. The Board's job is to conduct township business in an orderly and proper way while managing its annual general fund budget of $300,792.

        State law authorizes township governments to perform certain functions. They are required by law to annually assess property, collect property taxes and administer local, state and federal elections.  Townships may choose to perform other governmental functions that include enacting and enforcing township ordinances, planning and zoning for development in the township, providing fire and/or police services, offer park and recreation programs and facilities, maintain cemeteries and more.

        In Odessa Township, our priorities have focused on fire protection (jointly with the Village), contracting for ambulance service, ordinance enactment and enforcement, limited road maintenance and cemetery services. Our Fire Chief is Jeff Sanderson and the Board hires a full time cemetery sexton, Greg Thelen, to oversee the Lakeside Cemetery.

        The Board Members are accountable to the taxpayers of the township. The Board tries to serve the needs of the people through the limited resources available. In order for your Township Board to better serve you, we would like to hear from you. Later this year, we will be contacting our residents and asking them to respond to a brief survey. It is our hope that the results will help us meet the needs of the township and make the most of the resources we have in order to make Odessa Township a better place to live.

        To learn more about our township visit the web site or give one of the board members a call at www.odessatownship.org or 616-374-4237.

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