Twp continues exploring charter option

ALPENA — During Monday’s Alpena Township Board of Trustees meeting, the board discussed a resolution for possibly becoming a charter township.

The charter exploration committee met on Nov. 6 and decided to recommend to the board to look at a drafted resolution for review and then vote on the resolution at the board’s December meeting.

“We met for the fourth time and considered a charter township and restructuring the township and the possibility in the future of passing a millage,” Trustee Matt Dunckel said. “We currently can create a charter township without changing a millage and can be used in preparing for a more efficient government form.”

Township Attorney Tim Gulden has been overseeing the committee’s process to create the resolution.

“The only negative thing I ever see out of a charter township is that it is more complicated to pass ordinances,” Gulden said. “It’s doable though there are a couple more steps, but that’s the only negative things I’ve seen.”

Township Supervisor Nathan Skibbe said the township is seeing decreases of state funding annually and the township has been operating the same for decades.

“There’s obviously a need for improved services,” he said. “I think that this clarifies a lot of those issues and has a lot of positive factors. It’s my belief that this is something that I look at and say to myself ‘Alpena Township really should have became a charter township 15 to 20 years ago.'”

Becoming a charter township would afford the township the ability to be very concise with requesting funds, Skibbe said.

“I think that’s the direction that we can take,” he said. “As a member of that committee, if we do plan to move forward, it’s going to be a very transparent process and any funds that we request of our voting public can have a say and we can put it in their hands.”

Trustee Norm Poli said becoming a charter township would bring the township more in line with modern times because of the size of Alpena Township.

“I think that we can come up to speed on how to do things, how to get things passed rather than doing things once a month, and we can get some things done quicker during the month with proper organization,” he said. “We’re just moving forward and I think it’s a great thing for our township to definitely consider and become a charter township.”

Treasurer Laura Ellery-Somers said she thought she didn’t have enough information to make a decision Monday on becoming a charter township.

“In my opinion, this is a big thing to change from where we are at,” Ellery-Somers said. “I just would like to get more information to make my decision. I would rather sit down and discuss the pros and cons.”

Dunckel said the intent was not to pass the resolution during the meeting, but to present it to the board for consideration.

“This has been a gradual process,” he said. “I agree with Nathan that this is something that is long overdue. It’s up to each board member to make a decision.”

The charter exploration committee has not yet scheduled a meeting for December, but Skibbe told board members if they want to come and talk about the resolution with the committee, they are invited to do so.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.