By Sterling McGinn

Members of the Columbus Township Board met on Monday, February 6 for the purpose of holding a workshop to discuss the 2023/2024 budget proposal.

The meeting took place in the Columbus Township Hall at 1 p.m. Only two members of the public were in attendance.

A majority of the meeting revolved around discussions and the review of proposed budget figures.

One budget item is for civic funds, which is used for the annual clean-up day, Christmas activities, and Christmas decorations.

The board also said that they will review and possibly purchase a new piece of playground equipment for the township park.

One of the others items of discussion involved the budget for the Columbus Township Fire Department.

Fire Chief Paul Gaberdiel requested an additional $5,000 added to the fire department budget because of the need for necessary testing for pumps, hoses and SCBA.

Trustee Emerson Smith questioned whether the $20,000 from Lakefield Township and the $20,000 from Columbus was already earmarked.

“You can’t squeeze $5,000 out to maintain the equipment?” Smith asked.

Gaberdiel said those funds are earmarked and that the heating and snowplowing bills come out of the budget along with department wages.

After discussion, the board voted to add $5,000 to the department’s budget for the needed testing. The motion was approved with trustee Smith voting “no”. The department’s budget will total $47,500 including funds from a state DNR grant.

The department will be retiring one of their trucks once the recently purchased used firetruck arrives. According to minutes from the October 11, 2022, meeting, the board bid $70,000 on a Fire Truck being offered by Garfield Township in Clare County.

The truck will be paid for with $30,000 from the fire department capital improvement fund, $20,348.40 from the general fund, and $19,651.60 from the township’s federal ARPA funds.

The Columbus Fire Department fleet will be downsized to one pumper and two tanker trucks, Gaberdiel said. Money from the sale of the truck will go back into the general fund.

Gaberdiel reminded the board of previous discussions regarding purchasing a generator for the fire hall; no decision was made, though the board acknowledged the purchase of a small unit would keep engines from freezing in the event of an outage.

The proposed budget beginning fund balance is $259,737.27 with an ending balance of $239,737.27.

The proposed budget will be adopted at the next regular board meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, February 14 at 6 p.m.

A public budget hearing will take place at the March regular meeting.