Tonight the Northfield Township Fire Department was presented with a brand new flag in memory of retired Assistant Fire Chief Valentine Anthony Dreffs (Val) by Bill Burton and members of Dreff's family. 

Chief Bill Wagner: "Just a real quick history; We've never been able to afford to purchase a brand new flag and so that flag that we actually had there had been donated to us and Shellie Manning repaired that flag for us so that it was somewhat presentable.  In previous funerals before that flag, we actually borrowed flags from area departments, so I'm very proud that we'll have one for the Northfield Township Fire Department."

Deputy Fire Chief Chris Bishop 234w312hLater in the evening, Deputy Fire Chief Chris Bishop was commended by Chief Wagner and applauded by all for saving the life of a ten year old Augusta Township child following a July 6th dog attack.   Bishop said the child had recently undergone a seventh operation on his arm.  He was hopeful that the child would soon return to doing what ten year old kids do.  

Regular meeting business began with Ben Fineman's presentation of the Michigan Broadband Cooperative's effort to organize local sponsorship and co-ops to build and provide broadband internet service for residents.  Their original Lyndon Township presentation is below.

On the Agenda: the People‚Äôs Express contract, Fire Department Capital Improvement Plan and new Firetruck order, Main Street Sidewalk Project financing, Maintenance of the 75 Barker Road parking lot. 

Agenda Item 1: The People's Express Contract.  Last week Green Oak Township enthusiastically renewed their contract with People's Express.  (Green Oak Township Renews People's Express Contract)  Northfield Township's contract has been turned into a political football.

Agenda Item 2: According to Chief Bill Wagner's Fire Department Capital Improvement Plan, we need to restructure the Fire Department and its equipment.  The combination pumper/tanker trucks with which Wagner proposes to replace our existing separate pumpers and tankers each cost $250,000 from the General Fund.  Some money will be recovered by selling the existing equipment, as the process procedes.  A down payment of $125,000 for one pumper/tanker truck was requested at this meeting.  

Buried in Manager Fink's notes on the Fire Department Capital plans is Fink's recommendation that the Board reduce the Rainy Day Fund Balance policy to 50%.  It has only been a little over two years since the Board accepted crippling investment losses in order to turn un-easily spent WWTP and General Fund investments (bonds) into easily spendable cash.  Shortly afterward, the Board embraced Fink's scheme to reduce the Rainy Day fund balance policy to 85% and even held a Board Retreat, aka a visioning session, to discuss ways of spending the "excess" cash.  Fink did not insist on discussing or acting on the policy change immediately but said that the discussion and policy change would very soon be necessary.

Agenda item 3, the Main Street Sidewalk Project: Dockett asked why the Township was building a sidewalk for a Middle School school it no longer operated.  At one point Fink admitted there might be better uses for the funds but that this was the direction they had committed to; changing directions would waste time.  Dockett also objected to the narrow width of the sidewalk.

Fink danced around the issue of who would be paying for the project.

"There is no money coming out of the General Fund; there is no money coming out of the Township's coffers, but I do want to update you on the cost of the project.  We had had about $68,000 in unspent Community Development Block Grant funds through the county.  The total project cost came in higher than anyone had expected at $159,893, which means that our allocation of the community development block grant for roughly nine years will be taken up with this project.  I still recommend moving forward."  Fve minutes later, Fink admitted that the Township was borrowing from its general fund, describing the CDBG annual grants as "dollars that we can borrow for from the future."

Agenda Item 4: The DDA has offered to pay half the cost of sealcoating the parking lot of our old Township Hall at 75 Barker Road.  Dockett asked if the new owner of the Driftwood Marina could contribute since they have asked for about twenty of those public parking spaces to be reserved for his upcoming restaurant.  Dockett was told that the question could be asked during the discussion of parking space for the Driftwood Marina/Restaurant/Bar/Grill.  (It was not.) 

To cover the cost of new signs marking the lot as public parking, Engstrom added $800 to the amount provided in the motion to cover the cost of sealcoating.  Dockett objected to that.  Engstrom's laughing response: "Oh yeah, we're just made of money."  The motion was approved.

Added, as Agenda item 5, was Supervisor Engstrom's proposal that the Township abandon the township's former committment to MDOT to pay for landscaping or maintaining landscaping at the Territorial Road Roundabouts.  These roundabouts will be built as part of the Territorial Road bridge replacement phase of the US-23 improvement project.  Township Manager Fink asked the Board for the authority to make that decision himself but the Board seemed to reject his power grab.  Actually, if you listen to the entire five minute discussion, it is difficult to discern precisely what the Board voted on or agreed to do.  Engstrom's motion is unusually vague and ambiguous.

Discussion item 1: Renewal and modification of the National Staffing lease of 75 Barker Road.  The Board plans to change National Staffing's lease to a month to month contract.  They discussed reducing to as little as sixty days, any required notification of lease termination.

Discussion item 2: A proposal to designate twenty or so parking spaces of 75 Barker Road Parking for use only by the restaurant and bar that Township Manager Fink has apparently, according to Fink, convinced the Driftwood marina's new owner to build across the road from Polly's Market.

During Board member comments, Wayne Dockett informed the Township that Township Manager Howard Fink has moved his residence to Green Oak Township.  It's still in Whitmore Lake, said Fink.  No one knows when the move occured, if a move occured, and Fink was not forthcoming.

[Written before the Meeting]

Discussion of Fink's 85% Fund Balance initiative first appeared on the April 22, 2014 agenda.  I've been a bit busy lately so I haven't had time to put together a LiveAgenda.

July 26, 2016 Meeting documents:

Meeting Packet Breakout:

At this meeting Benjamin Fineman of the Michigan Broadband Cooperative (don't get too excited; they don't have any money) will talk about their efforts to organize public funding for Broadband infrastructure in local townships.  Below is their Lyndon Township proposal.  Cost per household looks to be at least $7,000 plus monthly rates.

The documents found on the Township website: