We live in an increasingly digital world and rural areas are in the midst of trying to play catch-up. Bath Township is no exception as the Board of Trustees discussed on March 21 bringing broadband to the Bath Township region.
As Clinton County looks to expand broadband access to its residents, Bath Township wants in on the fun.
“Okemos was the place to be,” District 7 Clinton County Commissioner Adam Stacey said. “It had the good, new school district, everyone wanted to move out there. Now, the last 10 to 15 years it’s really been DeWitt and we think to make sure that we hold on to the title of ‘We’re the center of attention when it comes to residential suburban development,’ we have to make sure we’ve got a lead in terms of broadband capacity.”
Broadband access became critical when the pandemic began and people began to use the Wi-Fi at a level they had never needed to before.
“Based on the pandemic, it showed that having access to broadband is not enough,” Stacey said. “You have to have access to sufficient capacity broadband systems. When everybody’s kids were at home studying, learning and developing, parents were also working from home. So they were clogging the pipeline.”
While there are many options to select from to access broadband, the Clinton County commissioners have centered on one form of it as they begin to source companies.
“We have settled on fiber (optic), it’s fiber or bust,” Stacey said. “We’re not going to go into anything else.”
One of the main concerns is the tax dollars needed to fund this project. As residents of the area and a few members of the Bath Township Board of Trustees said, the tax rates are already high enough for them.
“If we have enough money to keep buying and fixing up stuff, and I see we have another thing (on the agenda) that you want a museum, our taxes are too damn high,” said Bath Township resident Dean Balzar.
Bath Township treasurer Steve Wiswasser said taxes are meant to go back into helping the community. Despite him not wanting his taxes to go up either, he knows it comes down to the township being smart with the money it has to provide services while maintaining a low tax rate.
“I’m not interested in paying more taxes either,” Wiswasser said. “But I’m also interested in having a community that is progressing enough that has the stuff like public safety, police, fire, recreational activities, good roads and all the other things we have.”