2017-12-07 / Front Page

Board to vote on fire millage language

Township moves to digital document storage
By Paula K. Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pschmidt@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC TWP. — After meeting with the Grand Blanc City attorney Walt Griffin and City Manager Wendy Jean-Buhrer, township attorney David Lattie reported to the board of trustees last week that he thinks the best way forward at this point is to settle on the fire department millage language and worry later about the joint operational ordinance language.

Lattie said, “It occurred to us we might’ve put the cart before the horse in trying to iron out the details of the ordinance before we had our significant funding piece put into place.”

The ordinance has been a point of contention for both sides for several months, even though both agree the current 1 mill has left a shortfall in funding for the fire department — specifically in the capital equipment category for financing new vehicles.

The sticking point is who pays for what, and how to define expenses which should be paid by the owners of the respective buildings versus which expenses are to be shared equally.

A recent presentation of the 2018 fire commission budget was tweaked based on specifically that; calling for rewording some language and moving the exhaust system to the category of building related.

The board agreed to nail down the millage language at its meeting which has to be in to the county by January for them to review and approve for a possible ballot in May, but a date for the election has not yet been determined either.

Complicating the date issue, both the police and mosquito millages are also coming up for renewal in the next two years', and the township would like to avoid a special election as a cost saving measure; meaning the date decided could have up to all three ‘asks’ on the ballot; which seemed to be the board consensus.

Superintendent Dennis Liimatta said one potential benefit of holding off one the ordinance language that passage of a millage by the township for a greater amount than what the city asks, will give them a significant advantage when the time comes to negotiate that ordinance.

Lattie suggested the board members email him with their suggestions on the date and he would compile the majority when he brings back the ordinance language in the first December meeting.

Clerk Lane stated based on the historical record, both May and August elections seem to have the same turnout, but next November will also feature the governor’s race which may increase voter attendance at the polls.

Also related to the fire department, the board voted to increase Fire Chief Bob Burdette’s salary from $75,000 to $80,000. Liimatta said when first hired in Burdette was offered the higher amount but chose to take the lesser as an act of good faith and to prove he was fit for the job following the dismissal of former chief Servetter.

Liimatta said Burdette had a phenomenal performance evaluation and was certain the raise was justified.

In other business the board approved the GIS/ IT director Robbie Beller to initiate a contract with Document Management Solutions for the purchase of software and support services to start translating the township to a digital-based document storage solution.

Fifty thousand of the $180,000 will actually be borrowed from the 2018 funding budget in order to get things in place and start converting systems and documents as soon as December. The township is legally required to keep some documentation in storage for perpetuity, and only just now is legislation being formed to allow electronic storage of those documents.

According to Liimatta, they have maximized the physical storage capacity of the township hall at this time. Paper files will be contracted to a shredding company for permanent, secure disposal.

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