MONROE - The harsh winter that caused headaches for motorists who traveled over snow-covered and icy roads took a toll on the patience of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners.
The county commissioners last week approved making the three-member road commission officers into elected positions, beginning in the November, 2010, election.
Leading up to the vote to change appointing members to the panel to electing them, commissioners talked about complaints from residents about potholes and poor snow removal.
Commissioner R. Lamar Frederick, who petitioned the board in February to consider changing to election of the panel, said he favored moving election of the road panel because of difficulties in setting up talks with the members to discuss issues and problems with roads.
"I don't see that we need to oversee them. I think the road commissioners should be responsible to the citizens who pay taxes," Mr. Frederick said.
Michigan law allows for county road commission boards to have three or five members. Of the 83 road commissions, 33 counties elect members; the others are appointed.
The first of three elections for the road commission will be held in November, 2010, when the seat of Chairman Anthony Majauskas will come up for reappointment.
The election of the remaining two board seats will be decided in 1012, when the terms of commissioners Robert Duffey and Richard Turner expire. The road commissioners serve six-year terms.
Vice Chairman Dale Zorn was the only commissioner to vote against changing the selection process of the road panel members.
Mr. Zorn raised some issues, including the possibility that the county's less-populated townships wouldn't have representation on the road commission and the difficulty in removing road commissioners from office after they are elected.
"The road commissioners under the appointed format are responsible to the county board. Appointed road commissioners can be removed at any time by this board for misfeasance or malfeasance. Elected road commissioners can only be replaced every six years or by recall," he said. "I believe the county board should remain as part of the solution. If we bailout of our responsibility to have authority over the road commission, we could be part of the problem."
Commissioner Albert Potratz said the consensus in his district was to replace the appointment system with an the at-large election.
"Everything single one of them want them elected," Mr. Potratz said. "I have no guarantee it will be different. But I want change."
About a year ago, the commissioners, at Mr. Frederick's request, were asked to vote on putting the election of the road panel in the hands of county residents. However, the resolution failed.