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Alpena Township residents react to budget at Monday night board meeting

Residents brought their concerns over the Township’s finances to the board meeting, addressing everything from ambulatory services, to insurance costs.
Alpena resident Russ Rhynard says, for starters, the budget allocations are confusing.

“Well when you try to figure out what individuals are receiving salary and benefits, it’s impossible because the line items lump together everyone in a department. So if you’re in the clerk’s office, there’s several employees, and you’re the supervisor and you have an assistant, part of the assistant’s budget is lumped in with any benefits the supervisor receives.”

Beyond the salary payments, there are some mixed feelings about the distribution of tax dollars as whole.

Rhynard says, “…Add a litle less [money] to Thunder Bay Island, who, only a select group of folks are ever going to go out there and see the improvements of that island. It’s a good historical preservation, but I don’t know that the Township should fund that much of it.”

Township Supervisor Nathan Skibbe, says the board has faced some limitations in the way they present the budget due to state requirements.

“We need to do a better job with working within the parameters with the unfortunately reality of the uniform chart of accounts in the state of Michigan…[that means] creating footnotes to explain department salary expenditures. That is a huge thing. I think that would probably be one of the biggest things that has been misconstrued.”

The board is doing everything it can to accommodate community members amid the frustrations.

Supervisor Skibbe says, “We listened to the people at the budget hearing last night and the subsequent meeting following, and we’ve listened to the those recommendations and we’ll continue to move forward with adding as much transparency and information as possible.