News from the Townships
St. James Township, Feb. 5, 2003
St. James Township Board meeting with all members present. Reports:
At the January meeting of the Waste Management Committee: plans are going forward in search of a good used fork-lift or possibly a new one depending on price. Also pricing on adding cement to the front and back aprons at the doors of Transfer Station. Changes to be considered in benefits for employees when preparing new budget.
Received notification from United Designs, the Engineering Firm for the Municipal Yacht Dock Project, stating final permitting is stalled in Corps of Engineers. Five years have passed since this project first started so a major concern now is increase in prices to do the work.
Rich Gillespie and Grace Matella were re-appointed to the BITA for one month.
No decision has been made on where to place the World Trade Center Beam but John Works and Elaine West will be working on a location for the piece.
Resolution to upgrade Beaver Island Airport to Primary Air Carrier Status approved by Board.
Salary Resolution passed by Board which must be done at lest 30 days prior to Annual Meeting. Salary changes recommended are Supervisor $12,000; Clerk $13,000; Treasurer $12,000 and Trustees $3,500 each.
Board approved their share of the Mineral Extraction Contract along with CCRC and Peaine Township to extract minerals from the Pingel property on East Side Drive.
A few interesting moments at the Feb. 12 Peaine Township meeting
Three presentations and the raising of a question by the Treasurer flavored February's regular Peaine Township meeting.
The first concerned the web site Jeff Cashman proposed to construct for Peaine. The county hosts a site for all the townships, and a question was raised as to why Peaine did not simply accept this offer instead of hiring someone to design its site and regularly post material. The answer was that by having a local Beaver Islander coordinate and build the web site, the Township should be able to move faster with the project and produce a more unique website which is built for the Townships specific needs. Peaine wants to demonstrate its pride in what it is doing, and wants a site that will represent it more accurately. It sees itself as a potential pioneer in this up-to-the-moment form of open government, and noted that none of the townships already appearing on the county site have found a way to include anywhere near as much information as it intends to: mission statements and descriptions of the township and all its various committees and subcommittees and their purpose, members, board profiles, and schedules; an extensive history of the Township; current minutes and a searchable archive of past minutes; the master plan and revised zoning ordinance; information on public land and access points, and several other kinds of information. Besides, it was said, even though the county would train a Board Member for free, the cost of sending someone over for a few sessions would exceed that of this contract, and there is no shortage of work for the Board members to do at present in this important time for the Island.
The next presentation was by Mike Scripps, who drove up to ask the Board for a motion of interest in the further development of the Townships Airport. He pointed out that Island Airways had continued to express its interest in the possibility of relocating here. He said the over-twelve-million-dollar State Aviation Fund raised from ticket and fuel sales is distributed through the FAA to M-DOT each year in a formula that requires individual communities to supply between a 5 and 10% match, and that because our upgrade would push them to a plateau in which they would take in an additional million, there was a good chance some of that money would come here. If Island Airways relocates here, since they would no longer have to pay for field maintenance and improvement, this would no doubt hold down the inevitable increase of ticket costs. Expanding the terminal and improving the road to it would likely benefit the Island economy, he said. In response to a question, he stated that planes could turn the other way to avoid passing over the more populated areas north of the field. He said the next step would be Department of Aeronautics' studies, and discussions to solicit input.
Terry Saxton reported on the Trails Committee's work on the Wagner Campground Trail, which runs diagonally into the Blue Trail. His volunteer group discovered that the beavers have impounded so much water with their six-step, 12'-high dam that many trees have been flooded and have tumbled over, including many with the original trail markings. The trail was so submerged in places that they simply could not follow it, and had to come in from the west end by first heading south on the Blue Trail from the continuation of the King's Highway. An audience member wondered about inducing trappers to thin out the beaver here. The supervisor thought he could get a permit from the DNR to allow after-season trapping, and remarked parenthetically that the Township might be willing to do something for the trappers to make their trip here more worthwhile. (Note: Island trapper Mark Valente has already taken almost 60 beaver.)
The meeting might have ended in an hour instead of the almost three it took if it wasn't for a thorny topic introduced by the new Treasurer, who had been alerted to it by MTA officials. This summer both Townships will collect the 6 mill education tax for the state, for which the state will pay them an extra $2.50 per taxable parcelthere are 1,611 taxable parcels in Peaine. This 6 mills will be deducted from the winter tax bills. Apparently it's worth $4,000+ to the State to get the school money before school starts; some schools have had to borrow against their receipt of funds to get started in September. The problem was, now the Treasurer's work would be almost doubled because of the second collection. Should she receive all or some of the State's $4,000 contribution as fair compensation?
Tina Morgan, the new Treasurer, had spoken with several townships, and discovered that in many cases all of the per parcel State kick-back went to the Treasurer. She made a proposal to the Board: since the Clerk and the Deputy Treasurer would also be involved in doing this extra work, she suggested the Treasurer receive $2,500, the deputy $500, and the Clerk $875 (the equivalent of one month's salary.) This provoked a considerable debate because it would make the Treasurer the highest-paid member of the Board when it was felt, in some quarters, that the Treasurer, even with this added work, did not work harder than the rest of the board. The Clerk stated that she did not want any extra money, and the Deputy Treasurer from St. James Township said that her Board had decided that no extra money should be paid to anyone, which was fine with the St. James Treasurer.
The discussion seemed to be fueled by the feeling that this had been sprung on the Board without sufficient advance notice, and yet it had to be settled by a resolution at this meeting in order to be presented to the constituents at Peaine's Annual Meeting on March 22. A previous suggestion to do a time study on the Board's officers to determine what their fair salary should be had been tabled, so no one knew if the Treasurer should be paid extra for doing extra work, or, as some suggested, was already being paid enough to cover the additional effort. The matter was further complicated by the fact that additional components of the winter tax bill might be switched to the summer, such as local funding for the school (as opposed to the State's education fund), and the school may then want to contract with the Board and its Treasurer to do this second bit of extra work. The fact that a 2.8% cost-of-living increase had just been approved was another complicating factor.
After almost two hours of animated discussion a compromise was resolved: to divide the $4,000 State kick-back as follows: $500 for the extra postage required for the extra bills; $2,000 for the Treasurer; $500 for her deputy; and $1,000 for the Clerk, who was seen as already working very, very hard. This passed, 3 to 2, and allowed everyone to go home, but grumbling from both sides started in early the next day. When this resolution is presented at the Annual Meeting there will no doubt be some interesting remarks.
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