County's pension debt should be top priority, says new board chair

Jan 13, 2017

Carol Crawford

It’s a new year, and the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners has a couple of new members – and possibly a new direction. The change comes at a time when the county is facing financial problems – including a pension debt of more than $50-million dollars.

In its first meeting last week, the board elected Commissioner Carol Crawford to lead them into the new year.

Crawford spoke with IPR’s Aaron Selbig about her attempt last month to bring back salaries for commission members, after they had been slashed in March to one dollar per year. She says the lack of compensation may be preventing some people from running for public office.

“We’ll never know who would have run … last year and who just said if they’re not going to get paid, it’s not worth it,” says Crawford. “We’ll never know who those people would’ve been.”

Crawford says the biggest issue facing the commission right now is the county’s pension debt.

“I would like to have it not color every decision we make,” says Crawford. “If we could come up with a very good pension plan, to tackle the debt and get back on track, then we could deal with the day to day things of the county, which is what we should be dealing with.”