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Tech issues move fire department discussions to later date

A pair of key issues regarding the fire department were tabled until a future meeting, after technical difficulties threw a monkey wrench into the Alpena Township Board of Trustees meeting Monday.

Discussions on the township’s fire department, and information about a public input session regarding it, were shelved, for now.

The fire department is extremely understaffed, and the City of Alpena is currently manning the north station to assist in emergency response.

From the meeting’s onset, there were bugs with audio and video. After about 20 minutes of troubleshooting, some of the trustees who were at home, quickly drove to the township offices to meet in person.

The issues with the audio and video were rectified, but because of the delays, the board decided to hold off on the fire department discussion.

The move ensures people who may have wanted to make public comment, or were unable to reconnect, would have the opportunity to do so.

Supervisor Nathan Skibbe said the board will revisit the items that were tabled during a future meeting.

“It would have been a disservice to have a conversation that people are invested in without open public input.” Skibbe said.

The topic of the fire department may surface during a special budget meeting slated for 9 a.m. today, but it is not listed on the agenda as a stand alone item.

The township is putting the finishing touches on its 2021-22 budget, which runs from April 1 through March 31.

One of the serious talking points for the new budget is funding for the fire department, which will need an estimated $300,000 from the general fund.

Taxpayers already pay for two millages, one for operations, and another for equipment. The idea of having another to bolster staffing and limiting the blow to the general fund, is being explored.

During the meeting the board did vote on a pair of motions. It voted to adopt a new ordinance that would support making Presque Isle Electric and Gas a franchise, which could allow it to provide broadband to underserved parts of the township.

The trustees also voted to purchase a new pump for one of its lift stations. The cost of the new pump is $21,975.

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