Dorr Township plans to enforce fire recovery costs

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

Enforcement of Dorr Township Fire Department’s cost recovery ordinance will be moving forward with invoices to be sent out immediately after major incidents and Professional Code Inspections issuing citations to collect on outstanding debt if not paid within 30 days.

The cost recovery ordinance has been on the books since 2012, adopted by the township board and fire chief Harold Schumaker just before he retired; however, it has never been enforced until now.

A few outstanding debts will be wiped clean because there was some question whether unpaid invoices went to the responsible party’s insurance company but moving forward those details will be in order to follow a set procedure for recovery, said supervisor Jeff Miling.

“Quite a while ago, the board passed this ordinance but nobody’s ever used it until just recently,” he said “We’re going to start over and do it right.”

The ordinance allows the department to recover extraordinary costs to extinguish a fire such as demolition costs if the structure must be demolished for liability reasons; costs incurred with a downed utility or gas line leak; a water rescue recovery attempt; an accident that results in extrication or a spill clean-up; more than two false alarms in a year; and other out of the ordinary incidents that are costly or time consuming to the department.

Clerk Debbie Sewers had brought up the ordinance, asking why, if it was on the books, it wasn’t being enforced.

In one of the incidents in which recovery costs were being sought, a UPS semi truck hauling an empty trailer overturned on US-131 in winter road conditions and the highway was shut down for five hours because of a diesel spill. The other was a milk truck that overturned and with highway spills—they were both out of the ordinary.

The ordinance lists recovery costs, including a flat rate fee of $250 for spill clean-ups from an auto accident, automobile fire or PI accident; a flat rate fee of $500 for automobile accidents involving an extrication; and when not covered by a flat rate fee: a flat rate of $200 per rescue vehicle per hour; $150 for water tenders per vehicle per hour; $250 for pumpers per vehicle per hour and $150 for grass trucks per vehicle per hour; and manpower multiplied by the number of people multiplied by current wage.

For false alarms within 12 months, the third offense is $100 and fourth offense is $200.

Non-flat rates may also be included for all additional costs from outside agencies, person or equipment that are used to halt abate, or remedy the situation as seen fit by the Township Board.

Miling said the recovery costs are to be sent to the responsible party’s insurance company.

For PCI to enforce a citation it is typically $100. If a formal hearing is requested, the township attorney would attend court. If it’s informal, PCI attends at $50 an hour and other variables apply.

In other business at the May 30 meeting, board members were locked 3-3 on dropping the Michigan Township Association Membership at an annual cost of  $4,990.48.

Miling suggested dropping the membership saying he is often referred to the township attorney when asking the MTA for advice.

“I personally don’t use it, but if it is useful to others, I don’t have a problem with that,” he said.

With John Tuinstra absent, treasurer Jim Martin, Clerk Sewers and trustee Terry Rios voted against dropping the membership; therefore it will continue for another year.

• Approved the appointment of Nancy Westhouse as new deputy clerk after Sarah Geers stepped down.

• Reappointed Bob Traxler and Jim Schaendorf to three-year terms on the ZBA.

• Approved a Maintenance Department request of $10,500 to purchase 72-inch cut mower that can mow 7.2 acres an hour. The department currently spends 30 hours a week mowing and had been having mower problems. 

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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