Council to explore possibility of regional fire authority

MANISTEE — The City of Manistee is now considering the possibility of establishing a regional fire authority in collaboration with Manistee Township and the Charter Township of Filer.

At a regular meeting on Tuesday night, council members voted unanimously to hold a joint work session with the Manistee and Filer Township boards.

Thad Taylor, city manager, said the idea was brought up in an effort to alleviate some common issues the fire departments are facing. It also could be cost effective for all parties involved.

After talking with township supervisors and fire chiefs, Taylor said it was apparent that there was some interest in the concept.

“The (Manistee) public safety director, (Tim) Kozal, and I had a couple of meetings with the two township supervisors and fire chiefs just to engage with them on how we can work better together,” said Taylor. “I threw out the idea ‘has anyone ever considered a regional fire authority’ because we all are facing similar problems in terms of financing our departments, adequate response on the major incidents, things of that nature.”

At this time, the potential for a regional authority is merely a concept. If there is a strong interest, Taylor said details would be sorted out at the joint work session, at the discretion of all boards and councils.

A regional fire authority would include fire departments and local government working together to provide medical and fire related services; however, the authority could involve a variety of working parts.

“I do not speak for the council and the supervisors do not speak for their boards, so we thought it was worth getting the boards together,” Taylor said. “It would be tailored to the city’s needs, and would probably be unique to our community.”

Chief Kozal said he already spoke with those with the City of Manistee Fire Department. Kozal added that all three departments already having a working relationship.

“There has not been any nuts or bolts on how it is going to pan out,” he said. “There’s so much to talk about and so much to think about how this would actually work. I think that if this is something that could benefit us as a city, it’s something we should explore.”

Taylor said the authority would not impact job security of current firefighting personnel.

“I am not by any way suggesting that we lose employees or full-time people,” he said. “We need to enhance the way we deliver services to our community, and if we can work with two other communities to do the same thing in their communities — I think it is in everybody’s best interest.”

Council member James Grabowski was on board with exploring the option.

“I like the idea because I watch Traverse City and they are having (similar) problems,” he said. “I think it is a good idea and we should explore it.”

Mayor pro-tem Lynda Beaton said she would like more information on how the authority would work, and is open to talking about it.

“I do not have any problem with exploring it,” said Beaton. “It was very successful in the Village of Oxford.”

Mayor Roger Zielinski shared his support with the concept, as well.

“We are pretty much working together anyway,” Zielinski said. “Now we just want to put it as an organization and maybe everybody could save a dollar.”

More discussion will be held in the future on the fire authority.

Also at the meeting on Tuesday, council approved the following agenda items:

• A request for proposals for building plan review and inspection services was approved. The city currently uses the State of Michigan to perform these services, however some issues were identified with communications, inspector availability and more;

• The Audit Committee’s report, which outlines its duties and responsibilities, was approved unanimously;

• An agreement with Anderson Tackman and Company, PLC, to complete the city and Manistee Downtown Development Authority’s expiring audits was approved. The bid came to a total of $47,500, for five years of conducting the base audit; $7,500 for five years of conducting the DDA’s audit; and $2,500 per year for a single audit, if needed; and

• The mayor and city manager took action to make appointments to various committees.

On Tuesday, Ken Talsma also presented the fiscal year 2017-18, ending on June 30, City of Manistee audit results. The audit found that the city’s total long-term debt — including vested employee benefits and excluding leases — decreased by $452,804.

Heather Pefley, city clerk, made a presentation on the activity of the Clerk’s Office at the end of the meeting.

A work session is scheduled for Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. on a proposed Hollander Development and PILOT, and the annual RRC process to identify and prioritize redevelopment sites.

avatar

Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

Leave a Reply