2017-03-23 / Life in Leelanau

New fire chief introduced at meeting

Only 3 board members attend
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


LELAND TOWNSHIP Supervisor Susan Och and new fire Chief Dan Besson present paramedic firefighter Mike Ball with a certifi- cate of appreciation for his service on the now disbanded Leland Township Fire Board. LELAND TOWNSHIP Supervisor Susan Och and new fire Chief Dan Besson present paramedic firefighter Mike Ball with a certifi- cate of appreciation for his service on the now disbanded Leland Township Fire Board. Leland Township residents met their new fire chief at the annual meeting held Saturday.

About 20 people attended the meeting, where they heard reports on the sewer system, the Leland Harbor, the parks and recreation department, the library and more.

Dan Besson has been on the job for less than a month after replacing Rick Royston, who retired.

Besson, 44, comes from the Van Buren Township Department of Public Safety, where he was deputy director of public safety and fire services.

Lake Leelanau resident Steve Mikowski wanted to know how he will adjust from a busier department near Ann Arbor to the slower pace of Leland.

“The reality is that fire spreads the same, EMS calls are the same,” Besson said.

He plans to rely on employees under his supervision.

“They’re the workers, they’re the ones that are going to be in touch with the community,” he said. “Those philosophies are the same.”

One of his first tasks will be to negotiate a contract for the department’s duty crew, which joined the International Association of Firefighters in January.

Besson said emergency service personnel provide outstanding service, so he is not as worried about negotiations as are some in the community.

“It’s here, we’ll deal with it and adapt,” he said.

Leland Township was the second-tolast fire department in Leelanau County to unionize. Only Elmwood firefighters are not represented by a union.

Township Supervisor Susan Och said when she took office a few months ago she was struck by how many changes had taken place since she was elected a township trustee four years ago.

Two of the big ones are the two new fire stations and the independence of the library, both of which were possible due to tax proposals passed by voters.

Some of the money the township won’t be paying the library will be spent on repairing several sidewalks in Leland and Lake Leelanau.

Leland resident Jessica Lukomski asked whether some areas that do not have sidewalks would be getting them.

Och said the township had two bad trip and fall accidents last year and needs to work on its list of repairs before thinking about expanding the sidewalk network.

“We are going to get as much of that work done this summer as we can,” Och said.

Julie Krombeen, township assessor, reported that assessed values in Leland have increased by 3 percent from last year to $642 million, and taxable value likewise has increased by 3 percent to $498.4 million.

Several township residents who had worked on various boards and commissions were honored with certificates of appreciation, though many of them were not at the meeting to receive them.

Included are Keith Ashley, who served on the Planning Commission for several years; Tim Cypher, for his service on the Sewer Commission; Mike Ball, David Barth, David Hunter, Logan Hardie and Kathy Spinniken for their service on the now-disbanded Fire Board; and Ken Nash, Mary Foster and Steve Plamondon, who served on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Plamondon also served on the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The township also held a special meeting that included a public hearing on proposed budgets, after which the Leland Township General Appropriations Act for 2017-2018 was adopted.

A general fund budget was adopted showing expected income of $601,148, expenses of $600,011, and a projected fund balance of $512,436 at the end of the 2017-’18 fiscal year. A fire and rescue operating budget shows income of $703,293 and expenses of $702,810, with a projected fund balance of $403,240.

Steve Mikowski said he was disappointed that only three of five board members were at the meeting. Trustee Tony Borden and Treasurer Shirley Garthe were both absent.

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