It’s no secret that the City of Charlotte has been struggling with its budget.
A severe decrease in property taxes and under-funded pensions has put the City of Charlotte in a budget situation so severe that there is a possibility that an emergency manager appointed by the governor could come in and take away local control of the city.
So it was a happy day when State Representative Angela Witwer, of the 71st House District, made a phone call on July 1 to Charlotte City Manager Erin LaPere to tell her that the city was receiving a million dollars from the State of Michigan to purchase a new fire truck and other safety equipment.
“We were asked to put in special projects for the communities and one of my top priorities was the Charlotte Fire Department,” Witwer said.
“We started at 10 a.m. and finally voted on the budget at 4 a.m.,” Witwer explained. “The Michigan Legislature passed a bipartisan $76 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year, investing in education, the state’s economy, workforce, public health, public safety, and Michigan families and communities.”
“I have a great appreciation for our first responders and was thrilled to do this for our district,” Witwer said. “This is what can happen when legislators work together across the aisle. I’m grateful that we were able to agree on a budget that prioritizes economic development, especially in rural communities. I’m also pleased that our efforts to secure funding for Charlotte firefighters have paid off. This budget will ensure the safety of our community and the prosperity of our state.”
“We are behind on our replacement schedule,” Charlotte Fire Chief Mark Jordan said. Jordan has been with the department since April 2022. “This will help the morale of the department.” Jordan hopes to purchase two trucks and will spend the remainder on needed safety equipment, replacing rescue tools, some dating from the 1970s, and a 25-year-old truck.
“It will all be well used,” Jordan added. “The new equipment will ensure our firefighters, volunteers, and the citizens we serve, are protected.”
Witwer said that she worked with Mayor Michael Armitage, City Manager Erin LaPere, and the City Council to determine what a top priority would be for Charlotte. Her goal was to focus on the people, and to take care of the fire department. “I could see that the fire department is like a family here in Charlotte, and has a lot of community support,” Witwer said.
The City of Charlotte Fire Department is a combination department, operated by a staff of full-time, part-time, and volunteer firefighters, all under the direction of the fire chief. The city also provides fire services by contract to five neighboring townships that have collectively formed the Rural Fire Association (RFA).
The 2023 Michigan budget also includes a $22.1 billion education budget which will allow a $450 per-pupil funding increase for traditional public and charter schools, along with $210 million for school safety initiatives and $300 million for school mental health programs.