Horror movies made a cliche out of the monster or villain you thought was dead, but wasn’t. Massive firepower cannot eliminate the threat that returns again and again to menace the hero or heroine.
Leave it to the governmental horror show that is St. Clair Township to bring us that plot device. Call this one, “The Return of the Township Assessor.”
Township assessors used to be allowed to assess mobile home taxes, but in 1989 state lawmakers took away those duties. In typical fashion, the state that never met a layer of government it didn’t like took away the duties, but left the political positions.
Most townships eventually got rid of their assessors or reduced the salaries to $1 for these do-nothing, obsolete vestiges of government. Just three assessor spots remain out of the 22 townships in St. Clair County. Of course, in St. Clair Township the fiend is alive.
They elected an assessor in 2013, but James Wilson left for a county job and the $7,500-a-year position was not filled. His only job, assessment of mobile homes, went to the county as well for $1 a year. No one missed it and taxpayers got a break.
But here comes the April municipal election and there’s an assessor candidate running with the same St. Clair Township political slate that brought you Highway Commissioner John “Skip” Kernan, who is suing the township over his department getting three and one-half versus five employees. The township reduced all elected officials’ salaries for the coming terms, but the assessor will still make $4,500 a year.
With just one candidate, just one vote will again saddle St. Clair Township taxpayers with an assessor for the next four years.
Kernan said a local assessor could make sure the township was getting every penny out of the township’s 1,229 mobile homes — less than $100 each — plus he said to blame the state for never changing the statute to say the job was not needed. He said the only reason Township Supervisor Dave Barnes is against the position is because that political slate couldn’t find a qualified candidate to run.
Yeah, yeah, that’s it. No political insider wanted an extra $18,000 during the next four years. No one from the self-serving and self-perpetuating township government sector would want to perform a function for $4 when it could cost $18,000.
Silver bullets, wooden stakes and state statutes can do little to stop the monster that ate your taxes.