Niles Charter Township to purchase water meter equipment

Published 3:43 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2022

NILES TOWNSHIP — Niles Charter Township is doing its part to ensure the efficiency of its water system.

The board of trustees unanimously approved the purchase of 56 water meters for a total of $8,120 and 200 water auto-read meters for $32,000.

The meters will be installed in the Fulkerson Park subdivision, according to Treasurer Jim Ringler.

Instead of Department of Public Works crews manually reading each water meter, the new equipment purchased by the township will give water meters the ability to transmit readings almost immediately, allowing DPW crews to closely track usage and identify leaks and water outages more quickly.

“Now they can turn a two-day job into a 15, 20-minute drive, at most,” he said. “You only have to drive three streets in the car and the car’s transceiver reads all the meters.”

In other business, the board voted to opt out of 2011 Public Act 152 — Known as the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act — for a calendar year.

The decision to opt-out of the plan must be made annually by the public employer’s governing body.

The act places a cap on the amount that public employers pay toward medical benefit plans and provides employers with two options for cost-sharing.

The default option is a monetary “hard cap” based on an employee’s marital and family status. Employees would be required to pick up the difference if insurance surpassed the hard cap. The second option allows the public employer to opt-out of the hard cap and implement an 80/20 split in the cost for health care benefits and a third option — to opt-out of the plan — exempts the city from severe penalties for failing to comply with its requirements while staying with its current system.

“We’ve done this every year since it has been implemented,” said township clerk Terry Eull. “This is just a yearly thing we have to do.”

In further business, the township board:

  • Authorized treasurer Ringler to negotiate the 2022 school tax agreements with Brandywine Community Schools.
  • Approved the hiring of Tanya Cain for a part-time secretary position at the Niles Charter Township Fire Department. The contract is for no more than 25 hours per week at $15 per hour.


Township passes Memorandum of Understanding with Van Buren Conservation District

The township also approved a memo of understanding with the Van Buren Conservation District to cover certain financial responsibilities in relation to the State of Michigan, Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Scrap Tire Cleanup Grant for 2022.

According to the MOU, the VBCD applied for a grant from the EGLE to provide for the proper collection and disposal of unwanted passenger car and semi tires from the public. The VBCD sought partnerships with neighboring jurisdictions, including Niles Charter Township, to provide this service to a wide area of the public in Southwest Michigan. Niles Charter Township has agreed to provide this service within Niles Charter Township as part of this Grant, with the Van Buren Conservation District remaining as the primary grantee.

The MOU applies to the part of the grant used to fund one or more tire collection events hosted within the boundaries of Niles Charter Township. In the event that the scrap tire collector/processor charges more than the permitted cost recovery permitted by the grant for any Niles Charter Township collection event, Niles Charter Township will be responsible for disposal costs in excess of the permitted grant amounts.

Deerpath Recyclers Inc., 56625 Woodhouse Dr, Dowagiac, the licensed hauler and processor for scrap tires named in the Van Buren Conservation District’s application for the Scrap Tire Cleanup Grant, Fiscal Year 2022, charges $2,000 per 53-foot semi-trailer requested per event. The Van Buren Conservation District will request direct payment to Deerpath Recyclers Inc. from EGLE for bills, which are subject to reimbursement under the Grant. Any costs beyond the direct payment total amount will be billed to Niles Charter Township.

If at least 1,000 passenger tire equivalents, 11.25 tons, or 113 cubic yards of tires are collected per trailer, each trailer should be fully reimbursed under the grant, which would eliminate hauling and processing costs for Niles Charter Township. If fewer PTEs, tons or cubic yards are collected, the costs not covered by the grant would be Niles Charter Township’s responsibility. The Van Buren Conservation District will pay the bill in full but will send a bill to Niles Charter Township to recoup the portion of the bill not covered by Grant funds. Any costs incurred at Niles Charter Township’s event not covered by the grant are the responsibility of Niles Charter Township.


SMCAS Update

Trustee Chris Vela provided the board with an update on Southwest Michigan Community Ambulance Service’s ongoing quest to combat the COVID-19 virus. SMCAS is a nonprofit, municipally owned and operated advanced life support ambulance service serving the residents and visitors of the greater Niles and Buchanan area in southwest Michigan.

Vela said SMCAS is currently limiting its monoclonal antibody therapy to people 65 or older and/or people with comorbidities, which is the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are made in a laboratory to fight a particular infection and are given to you directly in an infusion. The treatment may help if you are at high risk for serious symptoms or a hospital stay.

Different from a COVID-19 vaccine, which triggers the body’s natural immune response but can take weeks to develop enough antibodies against a virus, the mAb treatment gives the body the antibodies it needs to protect itself.

The mAb treatment does not replace the need for immunity from the vaccine, but it can help if a patient is at risk for developing serious COVID-19.

SMCAS paramedics offer at-home mAb Therapy. Readers interested in using the service are asked to have their physicians visit to find referral and ordering information. SMCAS will bill the insurance companies or third-party payers in full for the treatment.