Saline Township To Investigate Potential Challenge to Saline Fire Department Additional Funding Request

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The Saline Township Board dealt with two key issues at its meeting last Wednesday evening at the Saline Township Hall. The board engaged in a 45-minute discussion about the request by the Saline Area Fire Department for additional funding and the request from MI Homes for a reduction for the performance guarantee bonds, in full or in part, for the Andelina Farms Phase 1 construction project.

SALINE FIRE DEPARTMENT:

The Saline Township Board asked Fred Lucas, consulting attorney for the township, to review documents which established the Saline Fire Board to determine whether Saline Township can challenge the fire board’s authority to change the funding model that has been used historically to assess charges to the local governmental units who contract for fire services from Saline’s Fire Department.

Township Clerk Kelly Marion reported that last year Saline was assessed 11 percent of the total cost for the fire department. That amount was adjusted upward to 11.75 percent this year. Last month, the township board authorized an additional $6,700 in additional funding.

At this month’s Saline Fire Board meeting, the fire board approved a measure to assess the City of Saline, Lodi, York and Saline townships an additional $132,110, according to township officials. The City of Saline and Lodi Township objected to their having to pay a higher percentage of the additional funding request and instead wanted the costs to be divided evenly between the four governmental units. In a 6-3 vote, the fire board approved this change to how funding for fire services is determined.

Clerk Marion reported that one half of the City of Saline and Lodi and York Township, as well as the at-large member of the fire board voted to approve the change in each jurisdiction’s share of the cost. Saline Township’s two members, Jim Marion and Robert Marion, along with Saline City Councilwoman Janet Dillon voted against the proposal.

Lucas suggested that it would be worthwhile for the township to allow him to review the documents that established the fire board to determine whether the fire board’s charter gave them the ability to change the methodology for determining how each township’s share of the costs were determined. 

“Just because the board voted to make this change doesn’t mean that their vote is sufficient to authorize such a change," Lucas said. “If the document outlines the criteria to be used when assessing costs to each participating jurisdiction doesn’t mean that a simple vote by fire board can change that. Let me explore that further.”

Trustee Robert Marion stated, “though Saline has the lowest assessed percentage for fire services, the residents of Saline Township pay the highest per capita rate.”

The board decided to withhold any additional payments for fire services, pending the results of the investigation by Attorney Lucas.

ANDELINA FARMS:

Dan Cabage, Fleis & Vanderbrink Senior Project Manager and consulting engineer for the township, reported a letter was received from MI Homes seeking a reduction in the performance guarantee bonds for Phase 1 of the Andelina Farms Development. Performance bonds are funds held by the township as a guarantee that the developer completes all the required work in their project, according to the site plan and specifications determined by local, state, and federal regulatory authorities.

The bonds were divided into six separate sections. These include:

  • · Water improvements (Bond #1084345)
  • · Stormwater improvements (Bond #1084346)
  • · Sanitary Sewer improvements (Bond #1084347)
  • · Miscellaneous improvements (Bond #1084348)
  • · Paving, Curb, Gutter, and Sidewalk improvements (Bond # 10844349)
  • · Grading & Erosion Control improvements (Bond 10844350)

Cabage reported that the recommendations included a partial release of funds, depending upon the amount of work remaining to be completed. Fleis & Vanderbrink recommended:

  • Water – withhold $50,000 of the $397,400 bond
  • Stormwater – withhold $100,00 of the $427,400 bond
  • Sanitary sewer – withhold $125,000 of the $485,900 bond
  • Miscellaneous – defer pending additional inspection by Fleis & Vanderbrinnk staff
  • Paving, Curb, Gutter & Sidewalks – withhold $125,000 of the $679,800 bond
  • Grading & Erosion Control – withhold $75,000 of the $941,700 bond

Release of all of the performance bond monies is dependent on the sign-off of all regulatory authorities.

NUISANCE CONTROL ORDINANCE:

The township board approved a revised Nuisance Control Ordinance, with the changes in language to be added by Attorney Lucas. Once the ordinance has had the language added and revised, it will be signed and posted on the township’s web page.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m. The next Township Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, 08-02-22 at 7 p.m. The August township board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 08-10-22. Both meetings start at 7 p.m. at the township hall on Braun Road.

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