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Schoolcraft airs concern over fire authority budget

By Rob Peterson

It’s budget time for the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority (SKCFA). After the villages of Schoolcraft and Vicksburg were able to get the authority to implement financial and purchasing policies in 2022, concerns about the authority’s budget surfaced at a January Schoolcraft village council meeting.

“I have serious concerns with the (SKCFA) board president drafting the budget,” said Schoolcraft village Manager Cheri Lutz. “The bylaws indicate that the board should not be creating the budget.”

Councilmember Todd Carlin, elected as the authority’s treasurer this year, disagreed with Lutz, stating that the authority’s staff was creating the budget.

“If staff is creating the budget,” answered Lutz, “why is (board president) Tracy Locey answering our questions” rather than staff?

In other business, the village this year will again offer a household hazardous waste collection program with a $1,400 allocation from the budget. The program cost is based on usage, and just $910 was spent in 2022. The plan is to promote it more widely so that residents are able to dispose of hazardous products safely.

The council publicly acknowledged public works Director Rob Kaufman for his long hours of performing snow removal during the holiday storms. The department is short-staffed, and Kaufman stepped up with extra hours to ensure that the roads are safe.

In addition to the public works department vacancy, the village needs an additional person in the water department. And the treasurer position will be open after the retirement of Theresa O’Leary at the end of February.

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