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'We should have caught this beforehand'

Faulty systems, billing errors leave township holding bill

March 02, 2011 - Officials in Orion Township recently discovered they were paying for something, but getting nothing.

During the Orion Township Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23, Supervisor Matthew Gibb brought this discrepancy to the public's attention.

"Sometimes I guess it takes two years and new operations director to notice this stuff, but (Operations Director Allan Feys) brought to my attention that our invoicing from Guardian Alarm regarding Friendship Park is substantially higher than other invoices," said Gibb. "This has been caused by a fire suppression system that is in need of repair, because it frequently causes the alarm to go off.

"Another reason that was much to our surprise, and I apologize to the public as we should have caught this beforehand, is that we're paying for a surveillance system on a facility that's not there."

After contacting Guardian, Gibb said the maintenance cost for the missing surveillance system was removed from their invoices, but that the township is considering having the system reinstalled.

Concerning the faulty fire suppression system, which consists mostly of overhead sprinklers, Gibb said leaks in the system's air pressure system have caused undue wear and tear.

The system operates by detecting heat using air pressure, keeping the pressure constant so that a fire can be detected when the time comes. Because of air pressure leaks, the sprinklers need to be constantly refilled, and the frequent use of the air compressor has burned out its motor.

The current estimate to fix the system, as quoted from Healey Fire Protection of Lake Orion, is between $4,500 and $6,000, with the annual maintenance cost remaining at around $1,000.

After learning of these discrepancies, the township's immediate reaction was to have the system removed to prevent future problems.

Feys said unless the system was completely "gutted and replaced" it was likely the same problems would persist.

After confirming with Orion Fire Chief Jeff Key that the system was not needed, Trustee Neal Porter motioned to have the system removed from the park.

Trustee Mark Crane opposed the motion, citing the building's cost, and the time it took to build.

"I understand the system is not required for human safety because of the number of exits and the small size of the building" said Crane. "That said, this building sits out in the middle of empty acreage, it was a building that was not cheap to construct, and it required a lot of input from the community.

"I hate to spend $4,000 or $5,000 on a troubled system, but if that's what it takes to protect an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of structure then I'm for it."

Gibb was unable to name the amount lost paying for the faulty or missing systems because the problem had only recently been discovered and because the park was constructed under a different administration.

A final decision was postponed until the next meeting on Monday, March 7.

Matthew Gibb was elected Township Supervisor in November 2008.

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