Alpena Twp seeks another fire millage

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Alpena Township Fire Chief Dave Robbins talks to the township Board of Trustees on Thursday about adding a fire department millage to the ballot for the November general election.

ALPENA — Alpena Township voters will vote on another township fire department millage in the November general election after the Board of Trustees on Thursday voted unanimously to add a 0.65-mill, five-year tax proposal to the ballot.

If passed, the millage will run from December to 2022 and bring in an estimated $217,200 a year. Money raised from the property tax would be used to buy fire department apparatus and equipment, like new ambulances.

Fire Chief Dave Robbins expressed concerns about adding the millage, saying it may be detrimental to add it after voters just approved a millage on the primary election ballot on Tuesday.

Robbins suggested waiting until the 2020 election.

“We should wait and see how things go,” he said.

However, the fire department has a need now for new equipment. Robbins has gone to the board at prior meetings to ask for approval to have parts replaced for the ambulances and fire trucks.

Trustee Nathan Thomson said he’s concerned about the fire department needing a new ambulance right now, so holding off on the millage could hurt the fire department in the long run.

“That’s the base of why we visited this at the beginning,” Thomson said. “If we hold off on this, then what’s our next move? We need that equipment no matter what.”

Supervisor Nathan Skibbe said he’s on both sides of the argument about adding the millage to the ballot. He said the needs of the department are high, but the concerns of the public are on his mind.

“I am concerned, it is asking a lot from the public, but the services provided by the township’s fire department serves those individuals,” Skibbe said.

The fire department has seen an increase in runs and Thomson said the current ambulances might not be equipped for the long haul if the runs continue to increase.

“If we wait two years, even if it’s a month or two months or six months, then we’re just adding extra time into you guys getting that equipment in hand and being able to use it,” he said. “That’s a long time from now with the equipment that we have.’

Thomson suggested the township hold a town hall meeting before the election to inform voters about the millage request. The town hall meeting would put less of a burden on the fire department to inform voters.

Robbins said the fire department can look for new, unused ambulances if the millage passes in November. Getting a new ambulance can take anywhere from six months to a year to get the specs, custom order it, and then have it built.

Voters approved a 10-year renewal for 1.5 mills on Tuesday for fire department operations, equipment, and training. That millage will generate $506,243 in the first year and cost the owner of a $100,000 about $75 a year.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5688.