Banks Township Board Meeting
Monday, March 21, 2016
- The meeting was called to order at 6 P.M. by Supervisor Thomas Mann. Present were Supervisor Mann, Clerk Donna Heeres, Treasurer Katy Postmus, Trustee Tom Cooper and Trustee David Rasmussen. Also present: Brad VanderArk, Carla Kammerer, Sandy VanStedum, Tom VanStedum, Dave Heeres, Tim Underwood, Jerry Rasmussen, Aaron Gaffney, Tina Sundelius, Jarris Rubingh, and Scotty Kehoe of DTE Energy, Christine Cole of DTE Energy, and Barbara Rykwalder of DTE Energy. Sheriff Dan Bean arrived at 6:43 PM. Judy VanderArk, Linda Ballentine and Darrell LaBeau arrived at 7 PM. Supervisor Mann led the Pledge of Allegiance and gave the Invocation.
- Presentation: Scotty Kehoe of DTE Energy addressed the Board with a proposed Franchise Ordinance negotiated by our attorney Bryan Graham and DTE Energy attorneys. He was complimentary of the work done in spite of delay of adoption of the ordinance. Of note, the Village of Ellsworth adopted the same ordinance last week. Public comments were taken and concerns were addressed by representatives of DTE Energy. Tom VanStedum: Why not fix the leaks elsewhere instead of expanding service here? SK: We are doing both. There are different budgetary items for each cost. T VS: What is the formula for checking for gas leaks? SK: The first union after the meter is the end of the company’s responsibility. Company must respond to gas leak calls within 1 hour by State mandate. They normally respond in ½ hour. An employee lives in East Jordan and one in Charlevoix to meet the needs of this area. Steel pipes must be surveyed annually for leaks, plastic (as will be used in this area) must be done every 3 years. T VS: What are the fees on the lines & meters? SK: There is a distribution charge and a commodity charge. Customers can have shut off if seasonal residence. Tim Underwood: So if seasonal only, they don’t pay (the surcharge) when shut off? SK: That’s correct, the customer could save if shut off. Dave Heeres: Is there a shut off/turn on fee? SK: Yes. Individuals need to “do the math” to decide which is best for their own situation. Aaron Gaffney: Representing Ellsworth Community Schools. The Board of Education is in favor of the franchise. They are in the process of changing the heating system and this is a timely issue. He estimates a cost savings of $30-35,000 a year to the district. Natural gas is in the best interest of the community. Tim Underwood: Representing Ellsworth Farmers Exchange, concerned about the addition of a service provider and estimates the loss of one employee potentially due to loss of up to 300+ customers. He voiced concern that customers be made well aware of the costs up front and stated that it is hard to know what those costs per customer will be when they don’t know how many customers there will be. EFE is a 98-year-old company and employs a lot of people. DH: Thanks to the Board for representing Banks Township in this very tough decision. He urged the Board to keep focused on what’s best for the most – the Big Picture. Where will we be in 15-20 years? Carla Kammerer: Representing Village Council, EFE and consumer: Are the meter charges all the same? SK: Yes, for each class. Residential meter charge is $10.50, commercial is more. CK: You need 60% to sign up to build it? SK: We want 60% but will start with 40% commitment. CK: What if some who are mid-route don’t want it, how do you recoup those costs? Christine Cole of DTE: They can add on later, or not. If add later, after the 10 years, they pay only for their service line and won’t pay the surcharge at all but missed out on the savings. Only customers attaching in the first 10 years pay the surcharge. CK: What hidden charges are there on the bills? CC: Sample bills are on the DTE Energy website. All charges are itemized. Donna Heeres: Does the surcharge vary/decrease as customers attach? CC: No, it is set based on costs and projected customers. Will stay the same over the 10-year period. CK: What are plans for expansion in 2017? CC: Uncertain at this time, possibly Atwood, either from east or north. If extension interest is shown, that will drive it.
- Public Comment: Jarris Rubingh informed the Board that 2 members of the Antrim County Farm Bureau attended a conference in Washington DC recently. There was discussion of GMO’s and the effects on farming. They met with Rep Benishek and Senator Stabenow while there. He suggested the Board consider not having an ambulance millage and pay for the service with general fund money as in the past.
- Sheriff Dan Bean addressed the Board and gave comparative reports from 2014 & 2015 of 911 activities in Banks Township. Total number of calls was down nearly 10 %. There have been two B&E’s recently and he urged to call the Sheriff Dept. if suspicious activity is noticed. He informed the Board of “Smart 911” a new program to provide emergency response teams with information specific to individuals. This is available nationwide and data is attached to phone number. He also spoke of a new Victims Services Unit to assist survivors of catastrophes in coping with the loss. Supervisor Mann asked when a patrol car would be based in the community again. Sheriff stated he is now at full staff and will try to get a car stationed up here soon.
- Cemeteries/Park: Judy VanderArk advised the Board that she will be assisting Linda Ballentine & Darrell LaBeau with getting started this spring and with leaves in the fall. She reported that the same key fits the Atwood and Ellsworth Cemetery Storage Buildings. Nothing in the building at Antrim City Cemetery. Discussed worn out and excess equipment: Judy will sell what she can, including the water cart in the Ellsworth building. Asked that mowers be taken to Work N Play Shop for tune ups, that was approved. Need new whip and blower: MOTION Rasmussen, seconded by Cooper to purchase a whip and blower from Work N Play Shop. CARRIED. Discussed Park Toilet door is warped. MOTION Heeres, seconded by Cooper to rent a Porta John for the Park this year. CARRIED. Nick Norton will be working with the crew this year. He will not be mowing, only weed whipping, raking, hauling brush, etc. Will bring in work permit, to start in May. Judy requested pay increases for the crew, reported flags purchased last year for the graves were not good, needs wire baskets for cemeteries. Will get with Clerk to order.
- DTE Energy: MOTION by Heeres, seconded by Postmus, to adopt Ordinance #1 of 2016, to grant a non-exclusive franchise to DTE Energy to use local public ways and transact local gas business in the township. Roll Call Vote: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. The Supervisor declared Ordinance is adopted.
- Township Hall: Jerry Rasmussen informed the Board that he plans to complete the painting of the meeting room later this week and will complete the painting of the downstairs over the next couple of weeks. First wedding rental of the year will be April 9, using the downstairs only. Has had some calls, some cancellations. Will need new mop bucket for upstairs, new chair cart to replace two older models. The roof is not leaking, ceiling is not coming down. Trustee Rasmussen has not yet contacted the vendors about the camera security system. Hope to have more information by next meeting to sign a contract.
- The meeting recessed to hold the Budget Hearings at 7:47 PM.
- The proposed budgets for 2016-17 were reviewed and finalized. The Budget Hearings were adjourned at 8:10 PM.
- The meeting reconvened at 8:11 PM.
- Cemeteries/Park Workers’ Wages: Discussed and reviewed history of the past increases. Last increase in 2013. Consensus was to not make a change at this time due to consideration of privatization of service for 2017.
- Budget Adoptions: A resolution was offered by Rasmussen, seconded by Cooper, to adopt the General Fund Budget as presented. Roll Call: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. Resolution Adopted. A resolution was offered by Cooper, seconded by Postmus, to adopt the Fire Fund Budget as presented, with a millage rate of 1.1. Roll Call: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. Resolution Adopted. A resolution was offered by Postmus, seconded by Rasmussen, to adopt the Roads Fund Budget as presented. Roll Call: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. Resolution Adopted. A resolution was offered by Heeres, seconded by Rasmussen, to adopt the Vehicle Fund Budget as presented. Roll Call: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. Resolution Adopted. A resolution was offered by Heeres, seconded by Cooper, to adopt the Liquor Fund Budget as presented. Roll Call: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. Resolution Adopted.
- Minutes: The minutes of the February 22, 2016, regular Board Meeting were presented. MOTION by Mann, seconded by Postmus, to approve the minutes as presented. MOTION CARRIED. The minutes of the March 14, 2016, special Board Meeting were presented. MOTION by Mann, seconded by Cooper, to approve the minutes as presented. MOTION CARRIED.
- Fire Dept.: No Report. Zoning Administrator: No Report.
- Township Hall Renovations: David Rasmussen reported the handicap lift is in and awaiting inspection before use. His crew has been finishing up details. Handrails need to be installed yet as do cabinets, countertop and sink. He is not able to veneer the doors due to clearances so will paint them to match.
- The treasurer’s report of incomes and balances was given. General Fund Balance: $244,214.59 with $150,000 due from the Fire Fund; Fire Fund Balance: $109,020.14; Roads Fund Balance: $141,703.15; Vehicle Fund Balance: $90,200.81; Liquor Fund Balance: $1,339.56; Grand Total: $586,478.25. Taxes have been receipted.
- Bills represented by the attached list were presented for approval for payment. MOTION was made by Cooper, seconded by Postmus, to pay the bills as presented. MOTION CARRIED.
- Zoning Issues: Supervisor updated the Board on the status of two complaints of non-compliance. Cooper reported that the Planning Commission did not meet in March.
- Ambulance Authority: Supervisor updated the Board on plans for millage requests and auditor.
- Correspondence: Village of Ellsworth is updating their Master Plan and requested input from citizens. The Par Plan Board of Directors have vacancies and nominations have been requested. MTA workshops schedule was shared. PA 116 application from Marvin Rubingh was submitted and we will act on it next month.
- Board of Review: Supervisor reported only 5 applicants for the Board of Review this year. Slowest he has ever had.
- Newsletter: Tina Sundelius will assist the Clerk in getting the mail-able copy prepared and next month will work on the online edition. KCI will again print and mail the newsletter.
- Retirement Policy: Draft policy was presented by Postmus. A resolution was offered by Mann, seconded by Rasmussen to adopt a policy to reward cemetery/park/building employees of retirement age who have worked for Banks Township for more than 25 years a one-time stipend of $500 for their service. Roll Call: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. Resolution Adopted.
- Road Millage: The Road millage has expired with the past tax levy. MOTION Mann, seconded by Cooper to place a question on the Primary Ballot to request 1 mil for 2 years for road improvement and maintenance. Roll Call: Rasmussen: Yes; Cooper: Yes; Mann: Yes; Postmus: Yes; Heeres: Yes. MOTION CARRIED. Clerk to send to attorney to draft the language for approval at our April meeting.
- Roads: Supervisor has contacted the Roads Committee and asked them to meet and make recommendation for road work this summer. Norwood is trying to find funding for paving of their portion of Lakeshore Drive. We are still awaiting a bid from the ACRC for our portion.
- Township Park: Discussed Park Engineering Contract. Kevin Makarewicz will be asked to attend our April meeting to present a contract for the park project.
- Elections: Presidential Primary was busy with 40% voter turnout. May 3 election for Char-Em special education millage renewal. Appointment of election inspectors will be at our April 18 meeting. Nominating petitions for Township Board seats will be available in the Clerk’s Office. Filing deadline is April 19.
- Budget Amendments: MOTION Heeres, seconded by Rasmussen to approve the budget amendments as attached and recommended by the Clerk & Supervisor. MOTION CARRIED.
- Next meeting April 18 at 6 PM. Ellsworth-Atwood Community Forum March 23 at 6 PM. Clean Up Day Saturday May 14, 8 AM to 11 AM.
- The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 P.M.
Donna L. Heeres
Banks Township Clerk