12-19-2019 Delinquent Hagar Twp. audit nearing resolution; Watervliet Planning Comm. will not recomm

EARLY CHRISTMAS FOR HAGAR TOWNSHIP… Monte Packaging patriarch Sam Monte (left) surprised the Hagar Township Board at their December regular meeting with a professionally framed and matted collection of his own photos of the new Riverside Kayak Park. Monte went on to explain that 79th District State Representative Pauline Wendzel was conducting a contest for submissions of locally significant items to decorate her office wall in Lansing. Monte decided to enter with photos of the kayak project; a joint venture of the township, DDA and DNR grant. “It turned out so nice, my wife and I thought the township should have a copy for the hall,” said Monte. There’s no word yet on who the winners are in Representative Wendzel’s contest, but Monte has high hopes. Hagar Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio gratefully accepted the donation, noting the Monte family’s decades of philanthropy in Hagar, specifically their role in the development of the township’s Public Safety Building and Children’s Park; recognizing Monte Packaging as remaining loyal to the Hagar community in terms of maintaining their company headquarters at the Riverside location, especially in light of expansion and holdings in other parts of the country. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)

Delinquent Hagar Twp. audit nearing resolution

By Jon Bisnett Addressing the matter of the delinquent township audit, Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio reported at the Hagar Township meeting on December 9, 2019 that a draft copy of the audit was received from the township’s accounting firm Gabridge & Company during the first week of December. An additional communication from Gabridge recommended the implementation of several internal document control processes going forward along with a recommendation to consider an upgrade from QuickBooks to financial software more acclimated to the nuances of a governmental office to help alleviate the issue that delayed the process. Treasurer Marlene Davis reported no interruption of revenue sharing funds had occurred at this time. DiMaggio added the township is now obligated to respond to the audit findings as to first agreeing with the recommendations and when and how such would be specifically implemented before the audit can be completed. G.I.S. Mapping of cemeteries discussion continues The Hagar Township Board has no answers to Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio’s inquiry, under old business, as to what appears to be an absence of a proper approval for G.I.S. Mapping work on the township cemeteries in process by Wightman and Associates. While there is no contention as to the benefit to the township or the quality of work by Wightman, DiMaggio’s concern comes from several attempts to verify who approved Wightman to proceed following a presentation to the entire board in March of 2019. The work in excess of $25,000 is well under way. Regardless of his conviction, Ulleg failed to answer the direct question as to who authorized the work. Treasurer Marlene Davis was not in attendance at that meeting, thus unable to shed any light on the issue. Davis earlier in 2018 championed an ad-hoc cemetery committee for resident input. Davis is also a full-time employee for the Wightman firm and in the past typically recuses herself from matters involving her employer. DiMaggio stated he and Clerk Sarah Rodriguez scheduled a meeting with officials at Wightman and Associates in hopes of resolving the question at hand. Guests County Commissioner Dave Vollrath reports Berrien County has passed a resolution in regard to Erosion Disaster and will move to seek assistance once the full realm of damage is evaluated. Berrien Co. Sheriff’s Department Deputy Everly from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office visited, presenting a report of the prior month activity in the township totaling 59 complaints, with one citation issued and just a single arrest. Supervisors Report Updating the new Kayak Park, Supervisor DiMaggio announced the pavilion is now complete, leaving only fencing and landscaping to finish the project. DiMaggio thanked all involved in the holiday lights decorating the downtown area. The supervisor reports the 2020-2021 Budget is in process and asks all department heads to submit their wish lists for the coming year within the next 30 days. DiMaggio recapped the annual meeting with the Berrien County Road Department with a $64,000 match from BCRD for local roads. Proposed work totaling $182,000 would include Pier Road, Fikes Road, Coloma Road, Central Avenue and Maple Lane, leaving a contribution of $117,000 from the township general fund. Primary roads on the list for 2020, funded 100% by the county, included Hagar Shore Road, Blue Star Highway, Coloma and Riverside roads. Clerk’s Report Clerk Sarah Rodriguez reported Pride Care Ambulance activity for the prior month. There were six priority one calls in November with the average response time of 11:38 minutes. There were eleven priority two calls with the average response time of 13:47 minutes. A total of seventeen calls were run in November with an average response of 13:01. The clerk also reminded residents of the new availability of online voter registration in preparation for the election slated for March of 2020. Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Marlene Davis presented expenses for October in the amount of $48,238.55 and November for $46,093.66, both subsequently approved. Davis read into the record a formal apology to the Clerk for overstepping her authority in the areas of the cemeteries and the township website, quoting from the State of Michigan statutes pertaining to scope of duties for elected officials. Fire Report Township Representative and Fire Board Treasurer Bill Ott reported the North Berrien Fire Rescue Department responded to just 16 calls during the month of November with seven runs in Hagar Township, four in Coloma Charter Township, and three in the City of Coloma. A hardcopy of the annual audit is now out to the three municipalities along with the new annual budget. Chief Mike Mattix was also on hand to report on the process of replacing the 1993 model fire engine with a 2021 Rescue Engine for Station 2. With an estimated cost in the neighborhood of $670,000, the department will seek bids in January 2020 with a 30-day window. The new fire engine will have a projected service life of 20 years. A forecast of equipment needs for the next 10 years is also in process, along with planned replacement of 35-year-old extraction tools for approximately $55,000. Many of the old tools have become all but obsolete due to new manufacturing techniques of modern vehicles. A changeover to 800Mhz radio and pagers is also in process to better align with countywide emergency service agencies. Building Inspector Butch Kelley noted nine building permits issued in October for a total of $215,000 and just two permits in November for $9,000. Parks Parks Director Beth Raiser reports any potential erosion measures for Roadside and Hagar parks will be delayed until spring to determine the best course of action after what additional issues winter weather may cause.

Planning Commission Trustee Andy Ulleg reported work underway to create a bid sheet for the 5-year Master Plan. Williams and Works is currently in process of fact-finding to recommend a Marijuana Business Ordinance as well as an ordinance for short and long-term rental properties. Old business Citing conflict of interest, T