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Township, consider options carefully

Alpena Township leaders and residents have some important decisions to make.

An ad hoc committee exploring township firefighting and emergency medical services has determined it would cost $800,000 next budget year to fully fund the Alpena Township Fire Department.

That’s about $300,000 more than is raised per year by a township property tax earmarked for firefighting and EMS operations, committee members determined. The difference between the fire department cost and what’s raised by the tax would have to come out of the township’s general fund, but general fund subsidization of the fire department was among the reasons township leaders recently proposed consolidating its fire department with Alpena’s.

That proposal proved controversial.

Committee members said township residents may be asked to approve a tax increase to make up the difference.

The township also could scale back the fire department further, consider a regional fire authority, or reconsider the city merger.

No matter how you felt about how the proposed city-township merger rolled out last time, it’s hard to deny the township has now done its due diligence. The committee, which includes township Fire Chief Dave Robbins, went through the department’s budget line by line, trimming away $30,000, and it’s clear from the committee’s latest report that all options have been pondered.

Public safety is a government’s top job and among a community’s most precious assets.

We urge everyone involved — residents included — to weigh the options carefully, to investigate them fully, to avoid emotional decisions and focus on the facts.

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