Saline Township Board Hears 911 Millage Renewal Pitch, Grants Raises for Trustees

 02/12/2016 - 02:17
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Members of the Saline Township Board came together for the February meeting.

At its February meeting, the Saline Township Board discussed upcoming millage proposals, requests made to the planning commission, the state of the roads and more. In addition, a political hopeful showed up to introduce herself.

The board approved the consent agenda, which included various payments, including an increased payment for fire protection. Afterward, the floor was open for citizen comments.

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Jack Ceo, manager of the Washtenaw County 800 MHz Radio Consortium, came forward to advocate a renewal of a countywide emergency communications millage. This is to continue and enhance a project started in 2006.

“Ten years ago Washtenaw County residents supported a public safety communication millage for a countywide radio system so that all public safety personnel in the county could talk to each other,” Ceo said. “The millage expires the end of 2016. We are now seeking the renewal of that millage so Washtenaw County can continue to support this critical communication system.”

The system connects 50 offices and agencies around the county, enabling them to respond in a coordinated manner when emergencies arise - emergencies such as the Dexter tornado in 2012 and the multicar collision on US 12 last fall. It is also used to organize protection for major events and for day-to-day communications.

The system consists of seven radio towers and 2325 mobile radios. The radios now need to be upgraded, a modernized 9-1-1 phone system must be installed, and other improvements put in place. There is also a cost for ongoing maintenance. For more information visit “Keep 9-1-1 Working” on Facebook.

The county is asking for a 0.2-mill renewal. For a home worth $200,000, this will amount to about $20 per year.

Bob Prehn had several questions for Ceo. How much money would it raise? Why a 10-year renewal? Will there be competing millage proposals on the ballot?

Ceo said that the millage would raise $2.8 million the first year. The ten-year time frame allows for better long range planning and avoids more frequent millage request campaigns. He also said there were other local millage issues but not countywide.

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After Ceo sat down, Donna Lasinski rose to introduce herself. She is a Democratic candidate for the State House District 52 seat and lives in Scio Township. The primary is in August and general election in November.

Lasinski has been employed by and has volunteered for various educational positions and runs her own supplementary education business called Think Stretch. She said her legislative priorities would be education, small business and making sure western Washtenaw County gets its fair share of state funding.

Superintendant Jim Marion reported on other upcoming expenses, one of which is a possible second county millage renewal, this one for roads. A year ago the county asked for 0.5 mil to work on primary roads and they would like to extend that several years.

Roy Townsend, managing director for the Washtenaw County Road Commission will come to speak at Township Hall in the spring, probably at the April board meeting. More information will be available then.

Marion also spoke of increased expenses for fire protection.

“The fire board approved the addition of three more full-time,” Marion said. “There were some of us that were hesitant until we got all the ins and outs of it.”

With fewer volunteer firefighters, the department is sometimes put in a bind. At least two firemen are needed to approach a burning house, not including the one who has to stay with the truck. Hiring more full-time will assure such situations are covered.

The new expenses will cost the township an additional $18,000 this year. The township’s share of fire department budget is 11.4 percent.

Trustee Bob Prehn reported on the last Planning Commission meeting. He noted that there were three issues before the board, a rezoning request from Gerald Kiwak, a building plan from A&H Lawn Service and a site plan request from Kris Krause of KBK Landscaping.

Kiwak owns property that fronts on both US 12 and Dell Road. His request to rezone it commercial was put on hold until the master plan renewal is complete.

A&H did not submit a complete site review, but Prehn said he felt confident that their application would be approved when complete.

There has been a confrontational relationship between Krause of KBK and the Township, but Prehn’s comments did not reflect this.

“KBK came in with their site plan which was reviewed by Carlisle/Wortman and their site plan looked pretty good, except it had about 20 areas that needed to be improved upon, none of which was really major,” Prehn said.

Township Board members also talked about the state of the roads. Treasurer Renee Luckhardt referred to potholes in front of her neighbor’s house as “craters.” Others had similar stories.

Mike Callegari, who was present at the meeting, said that he has calling the county about various specific road problems since mid December, but they have been slow to respond. Clerk Kelly Marion told him he would have about $98,000 in this year’s budget for Township-authorized roadwork.

Bob Prehn suggested that the board is overdue for a raise. He noted that they have had a moratorium on raises for five years and he proposed a two percent raise for this year.

Robert Marion said that the Planning Commission should also get a raise and Jim Marion supported him in this. The commissioners receive $50 per monthly meeting, with the chair and the secretary receiving $65. A $5 raise was suggested.

The board then voted unanimously to award a two percent raise to board members and a $5 per meeting raise to the planning commissioners.

The next meeting of the Township Board will be on March 14 with a budget meeting at 6:30 and the regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. They will be meeting in the basement since the Board of Review will be meeting in the council chamber.

Robert Conradi
Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.