EAST TAWAS – The East Tawas City Council met twice last week, continuing the process of hiring a chief for its new police department, amending the city’s sign ordinance, electing their mayor pro-tem, and agreeing to collect 2021 school taxes.

At the regular meeting on Jan. 4, City Manager Brent Barringer reported that 10 applications had been received to date for the position of East Tawas police chief, and that five candidates have been interviewed by the council’s police services committee. Barringer added that, upon completion of background checks, the two finalists for the post will be interviewed by the full council at a special meeting to be scheduled for that purpose.

Later in the week at a special meeting held Jan. 8, two panels were established to review and evaluate background information on the candidates for the police chief position. One panel will consist of Councilmen Mike Mooney, Steve Klenow and Dave Leslie, with the second group staffed by Councilwomen Blinda Baker and Lisa Bolen, along with Councilman Craig McMurray. 

Barringer will also serve on both panels, which will submit their recommendations to the full council in the near future. At that meeting, the council voted 7-0 to authorize Barringer to define and discuss terms of employment with candidates for the police chief post.

Barringer also reported that the Tawas Police Authority (TPA) is presently operating with only one officer and an office manager, and that the Michigan State Police are providing additional coverage, responding to emergency and non-emergency calls.

A second reading of a zoning ordinance amending the city’s sign regulations was held at the Jan. 4 meeting. The measure, which was approved on a 7-0 vote, addresses the use of off-premise signs, and seeks to modify the definition of a structure “to reduce confusion regarding accessory buildings.”

Councilwoman Lisa Bolen was elected mayor pro-tem at the same meeting by a 7-0 vote.

The annual request from Tawas Area Schools to collect 2021 school taxes was unanimously approved by the council on Jan. 4. Per the recommendation of City Clerk/Treasurer Julie Potts, the city agreed to collect the taxes at a cost of $0.30 per parcel, which reflects an increase of five cents per parcel to cover increased costs of postage and envelopes.

Barringer confirmed that Perchville 2021 has been postponed until March 12 and 13, and said that further updates would be provided when received.

City Hall, the Community Center, and the East Tawas Public Library are still closed to the public until Jan. 15 at the earliest due to the COVID-19 situation, Barringer said. He added that he awaits an update from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for further developments.

East Tawas Fire Chief Bill Deckett informed the council that a county-wide grant is needed in order to purchase updated 800 MHz radios for his department, which he said will improve communications and response times. Deckett also noted that his department’s annual report is being prepared and will be presented to the council at a meeting in the near future.

After meeting with Housing Commission Interim Executive Director Douglas Fleming and Consultant Sam Spadafore, Barringer presented an update to the council at the special meeting on Jan. 8 regarding the conversion of the South Bay Park Tower to Section 8 Housing, thereby streamlining operations and providing for capital improvements to the facilities. Council will be asked to decide on the final details of the projects at their next meeting on Jan. 18.

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