By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Township Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting on Wednesday Aug. 11. Many of the topics discussed centered around upgrading and maintaining township infrastructure.
Trustee Jonathan Nold was the only board member not present, causing the board to remove an item regarding the salaries of elected officials from this month’s agenda.
Discussion began with Library Director Bryan Cloutier using the first public comment period to give an update on the library’s expansion plans. Last month the Township Board approved the library’s request to put a millage on the ballot this November, and Cloutier shared some of the updates that have since been made to the expansion plans.
“Our architect is redrafting the youth addition,” Cloutier said. “We are not making significant changes to it, but we are pulling it away from the property setback enough that in the future, if we needed to, we could put in a service drive to our back parking lot. We are not provisioning to put in the service drive right now because (Oxford Elementary School) is going to allow us to continue to use their driveway.”
500 square feet of space has been reduced from the final plans as a result of this change.
The next infrastructure related points following Cloutier’s comments were the second readings of Sewer Ordinance 107A.007 and Water Ordinance 105B.009. 107A was revised to allow delinquent grinder pump repairs to be included on tax bills and 105B was revised to expand financing for homes with wells to connect to the township water system. All board members present voted to approve the ordinances.
Following comments from the Oxford Fire Department and Jim Sharpe of Sharpe Engineering’s monthly report, the board discussed recommendations on how to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. A committee came up with several ideas on how funds could be used, though not all of them would work.
“I would keep this list of recommendations open,” Township Supervisor Jack Curtis said. “What I have learned over the past few days [is that] MTA, SEMCOG, they’re all working on expanding the four categories that the funds can be earmarked for. As an example, item number three bituminous overlay [on West Drahner Rd. from Newman Rd. to Sanders Rd.] does not qualify. They are trying to work on some road repair allocations, but today it is not there.”
Ultimately discussion was tabled and business regarding use of ARPA funds was sent back to the committee. The deadline for determining how the township will use its $2 million of ARPA funds is December 2024.
Once discussion over ARPA funds was over, much time was spent discussing the safety paths around the township. First was approval of the safety path master plan, then the approval of $120,000 to repair paths along Dunlap Rd. from West Bay Shore Dr. to Market Street.
The string of unanimous agreement ended when the board discussed how the price for the next set of safety path repairs would be determined. The original proposal stated the township would request Sharpe Engineering to create a bid document for the repairs and to negotiate a price with Birmingham Sealcoat if the latter wished to take on the project. Trustee Rod Charles had questions regarding how Sharpe Engineering came up with the proposed costs for the project, leading to discussion over why the job was not being sent out for bid.
“I have a concern that there’s people out there who may be able to bid the project,” Curtis Wright, township clerk, said. “Maybe higher, maybe lower, but it’s a check and balance against just hiring one contractor. That’s my concern; I’m not supporting this motion.”
The board voted 3-3 on the issue of repairing the safety paths, causing the motion to fail.
Another vote requesting Sharpe Engineering to submit a bid for the repairs passed 5-1. The issue of approving the repairs will likely be on the agenda for the Sept. 8 meeting agenda.
The final infrastructure-related subject was amending the 2021 budget to provide funding for a parking deck over the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department Oxford Township substation parking lot. The amendment passed unopposed, all agreeing to transfer up to $230,000 from the general fund into the building and site fund.
Several non-infrastructure points were discussed at the meeting. The board approved Oxford Fire Lt. Sarah Racer’s application to become an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the 2022 fiscal year budget calendar was updated to account for absences by consolidating several sessions into one on Wednesday, Sept. 22 and a new 501(c)3 funding application form was approved.
Several board members took time to recognize the township’s redesigned website, which was built by Oxford High School career technical education students and their teacher. Supervisor Curtis stated he would look into ways to officially recognize the work done by the students and teacher. Curtis also mentioned he will hire another building inspector.