EAST TAWAS – The final step in the process of opting out of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act was completed on May 6, as the East Tawas City Council passed Ordinance No. 352. 

The measure, which passed by a 7–0 vote, was recommended for approval by the East Tawas Planning Commission.

At the same meeting, City Manager Brent Barringer informed the council that construction on the downtown restroom project will begin this month, now that the purchase of the property has taken place. He added that the scheduled improvements to Evans Street are also scheduled to begin in May.

According to Barringer, a company called Space, Inc. is assisting in developing plans to improve the City Hall’s vestibule and office space. He said that the design process takes time, and that work can be done in phases, but the city will only “do what we can afford.”

The annual downtown parking letter is being mailed to local businesses, Barringer announced. The letter asks for the cooperation of business owners and their employees, who are requested to park in city lots, especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day, to reserve primary parking spaces for visiting retail shoppers.

Barringer reported to the council on some of the expenses incurred due to snow removal during the past season. Presenting some “quick math,” he noted that wages increased by around $4,000 and contract costs decreased by $12,000. Considering the initial cost of $5,000, the city’s net gain for the season was around $3,000. However, the cost of salt per ton increased from $50 last year to $71 this year, resulting in cost increases of $19,000.

Tawas Police Authority (TPA) Chief Mark Ferguson told the Council that he had recently received training in Traverse City regarding the influences of conscious and sub-conscious biases on policing. Ferguson added that TPA officers will undergo similar training at the end of the month.

Ferguson commented on the “great rapport” his department has with the new County Medical Examiner Dr. Jaya Sankaran. He said that her office has a “new atmosphere” and that she is a “great source and teacher.”

A wage increase proposal which Ferguson hopes will be amenable to both cities served by the TPA and the officers’ union was presented at the TPA meeting on the morning of May 6. Ferguson said the existing pay structure is not comparable to other departments in the area, and does not want to risk losing more officers to higher-paying opportunities.

In other matters:

• Council approved by a vote of 7-0 a contract to extend the agreement for audit services provided by Stephenson & Company.

• Approved the annual agreement to collect school taxes at the rate of 25 cents a parcel.

• Approved a request from the American Legion Audie Johnson Post and Auxiliary Unit No. 211 to hold its annual poppy sale throughout East Tawas from May 16 through May 18. Proceeds from the sale will provide aid to veterans and their families;

• Approved a resolution appealing to the State of Michigan in support of funding for spaceport operations at Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport.

• Approved an extension of the existing METRO Act right of way permit with Michigan Bell Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T Michigan for an additional five year term, expiring Nov. 30, 2024;

• Approved was given to the extension of the current TPA lease, which is currently $600 per month, plus utilities. The city will ask the TPA to consider improvements to their facility to better accommodate the department;

• Approved a bid from Klinger Plumbing and Heating to replace the ceiling-mounted heating system in the East Tawas Fire Department apparatus bay was accepted by a 7-0 vote. The cost of the replacement is $16,500.