Arthur Township cancels fire contract

March 7, 2019

By Pat Maurer

“We had to cancel our fire protection contract” [with the Harrison Fire Department for March], Arthur Township Supervisor Lee Schunk said Wednesday evening. “We didn’t get enough donations to pay for fire protection and there just isn’t enough money for it in the budget.”

At the Township board meeting in January, the board approved a month-to-month contract with the Harrison Department. Enough money was raised through donations to cover some of the costs for January and February with the rest paid from the general fund, but there isn’t enough for the March payment, approximately $1,400.

The small township ran out of funds needed to pay for this year’s fire protection last spring.

Harrison Fire Chief Chris Damvelt said Thursday morning, “We are waiting to see what our legal responsibilities are now. I’m unsure if Harrison Fire Department will respond to fires or emergencies in Arthur Township.”

In November the board placed a proposal on the ballot to set a special fire protection service district. The proposal was rejected in a 157 to 130 vote in the November 8th General Election. The contract for township fire protection with the Harrison FD expired at the end of the year.

In November, Harrison Fire Chief Chris Damvelt said, “.75 mills [3/4th of one mill] would raise enough money to cover the costs of the contract. One mill would give the township more than enough funds.”

In the November article, Harrison Fire Chief Chris Damvelt said, “After January 1st, Arthur Township will no longer have fire protection. The Harrison Fire Department will no longer respond to emergencies in the township.” Damvelt said he has never heard of a situation like this, and no one, or other department he has talked to has ever heard of it happening.

Following the election, township residents began raising funds and enough was donated to pay for one month of protection, around $1,400. The Township also received tax monies and Revenue Sharing, which could cover some the costs for future payments in a month-to-month contract with Harrison Fire Department, but there weren’t enough donations for a payment this month.

This year’s contract with the Harrison Department would have cost just under $16,800 for the year.

Now the township no longer has a contract for fire protection. “I’m not sure how this is going to affect the [Arthur] township home owners’ insurance policies,” Schunk said.

Schunk said, “If the township board approves it, one option to resolve the issue and raise enough money to pay for a contract would be putting a millage proposal on a ballot in a special August election. If we can raise the funds to pay for a special election (about $2,000) and that happens, and if the township voters approve it, we would be able to reinstate a fire protection contract with the Harrison Fire Department next January.”

Meanwhile donations to pay the month to month costs for the rest of 2019 could be mailed to 3031 S. Athey Road, Clare, MI 48617.

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