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Posted: 03/19/14

Oakland board approves
new vehicle for fire chief

Observer Special Writer
      The Oakland Township Fire Department's budget was up for discussion at the Oakland Township Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 25.
       Fire Chief Paul Strelchuk requested the purchase of new vehicles for the township, including an ambulance, a command vehicle, and a vehicle for his own business use.
       Township Manager Ann Capela said there would be a budget amendment for the ambulance and command vehicle for this fiscal year's budget or for the next year's budget. The township would have to use funds from the general fund balance to pay for the two vehicles.
       "We would bring all the budget amendments to you on the 25th of March," she told the board, reassuring them there was enough in the general fund to cover the costs.
       One ambulance has been taken out of service due to numerous mechanical problems. Strelchuk proposed removing the old chassis from this ambulance and refurbishing it with a new chassis. This would cost $50,000 less than purchasing a new ambulance.  
       The township currently has two ambulances servicing the township. Both are equipped with advanced life support equipment.
       The department's goal is to have two advanced life support ambulances and one basic life support ambulance as back up.
       Strelchuk also stressed in his presentation that there was a critical shortage of firefighters in his department. The department has six full-time firefighters, and three paid on-call paramedics. There are only 21 paid on-call firefighters in the township currently.
       "We are not getting a good response in regards to the letter we sent out for paid on-call positions," he said. "(The National Fire Protection Association) requires us to have four people on scene and one incident commander before we make entry into a house. Right now, that's a very tough thing for us to meet. Oakland Township has a very unique situation compared to other communities. We have a lack of manpower."
       Township Treasurer Jeanne Langlois said the board should take a look at the budget numbers before they make a final decision.
       "We only have one more month in our fiscal year and I just think it would be very beneficial for us to look at where we're going to come in at the end of the year so we understand the bottom line for this month," she said. "I just think we should have those numbers in front of us. I think we need to see what amount from the general fund is going to be required in the year that we're in to keep the fire fund at their targeted fund balance. I need to see the ambulance included in these numbers so we understand what we're authorizing from the general fund."
       The board did approve the purchase of a vehicle for business use for the fire chief.
       The board also heard a presentation from the Historic District Commission on its 2014-15 fiscal year budget. The HDC hopes to increase revenue by renting its facilities for weddings. The HDC also plans to have two square dances in June and September, and open a restaurant and barbecue. It will also offer an internship to college students interested in historic preservation.
       "(The internship) we feel is a really good opportunity that would help the office. It would also help the student, and it would be a wonderful partnership with (Eastern Michigan University)," said Preservation Planner Barb Barber.
       Eastern Michigan offers a graduate program in historic preservation, which is the reason Barber selected the university to find an intern.
       Langlois applauded Barber for all the hard work she and the HDC have done for the township.
       "I think the HDC does an absolutely remarkable job with the very limited dollar amount that the taxpayers generously provide," she said.
       The public will have a chance to comment on the fiscal year budgets at the board's next meeting on March 11. The budgets will be adopted on March 25.
       In other business, the Board of Trustees:
       • Approved the purchase of a replacement vehicle for the Building Department.
       • Tabled a request for a fireworks application from Wyndgate Country Club for June 14 until Township Manager Ann Capela can discuss a list of proposed questions from the board with Wyndgate about fireworks displays.

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