CHARLOTTE, Mich. — The Charlotte Fire Department now has a permanent chief. Interim Chief Mark Jordan was appointed as the permanent chief at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
“I will be making a motion to support the appointment of Mark Jordan as our official fire chief,” said Council Member Adrianne Van Langevelde during the meeting. However, the department spending has become an issue.
While Charlotte’s residents have shown support for their fire department, a proposed increase in the fire protection fund has raised concerns for some residents. The fire protection fund is a millage approved by the Council last year that covers 85 percent of the department’s expenses.
“Me and my wife both are retired senior citizens,” said Charlotte resident Lawrence Arnett at Monday’s meeting. “I don't get any raises. I don't have no retirement income whatsoever, but yet, I'm expected to pay more and more taxes, more and more good prices, more and more car insurance, more and more house insurance.”
The city proposed levying 3.8 mills to pay for the fund, up from 3.75 mills last year. City Manager Erin Lapere said it would cost about $15 a month total for the average homeowner.
“You really need to solve this yourself and stop talking to us to solve this,” said Charlotte resident Steven Whitinger at the meeting. “All levels of government seem to think that's the easiest way to do it - just pass the buck on to the taxpayer. Somehow at some point, it's got to stop… If I go on and spend too much money, I have to cut back, hunker down and bring my expenses back in line with my income. I can’t ask my neighbors to pay it - It's my responsibility. Well, that's where you are right now. Accept the responsibility!”
According to Lapere, cutting the fire protection fund would be detrimental to the city and could result in cuts elsewhere.
“Don't sit here and call it a fire assessment,” said resident Zach Story. “It's a pension assessment that you are using as fire assessment to cover the bunch of liabilities.”
Mayor Michael Armitage said the fire protection fund, along with the city’s budget, will be addressed again during the Council meeting on June 20 because the public hearing notice was not mailed out in time because of an issue with the vendor.
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