I like seeing these stories. Hopefully, this leads to more sub-regional partnerships. I'd like to see something similar done with the Woodward Corridor suburbs. It looks like there are some smart communities in this area. The more we get rid of duplicities in this state where municipal duplicity is not only allowed, but preferred, is a great thing:
Cities tread lightly with fire services plan
Union of 5 Downriver departments is designed to save money; response time worries residents.
January 22, 2007
Iveory Perkins / The Detroit News
-- Billed as a cost-saver but raising alarms among some residents, a plan to consolidate five Downriver fire departments is gaining momentum.
Wyandotte city officials tonight are expected to follow the lead of Melvindale by passing a resolution to take part in a feasibility study for a joint department with Allen Park, Southgate and Lincoln Park.
Combining services would save taxpayers $11 million, according to a preliminary $25,000 study by Plante and Moran.
Similar discussions are under way among the cities and townships of Northville and Plymouth as state revenue continues to decline. Still, city officials acknowledge they may have to overcome reluctance from residents.
"The level of service should increase because there would be more manpower," Wyandotte Mayor James DeSana said.
Cities so far are treading cautiously. Even if they approve the resolution, they can still back out of the plan that would establish a fire authority to oversee a consortium, bargain with labor unions and draft plans for deployment of equipment, financing and administration.
There are also political hurdles from residents such as Bob Kupovits, who said he worries response times could suffer.
"I don't like the idea because if they change it, the fire stations are going to be spread out too far," said Kupovits, 64, of Allen Park. "I am concerned about response time and safety."
Southgate is expected to take up the issue Wednesday, while Allen Park considers it Feb. 13. Lincoln Park Councilman Thomas Murphy said a date hasn't yet been set for the resolution in that community.
Levon King, Southgate's city administrator, said the proposal makes fiscal sense for the tightly clustered communities. The five cities are about six miles apart at their farthest point, according to maps, about the same as standard Michigan townships.
"The main thing to emphasize is that if this thing occurs, it would not increase cost, and we do think it would provide better service," King said.
Melvindale Mayor Andrew Luzod is blunter. "Cities can no longer be independent in providing fire services," he said.
You can reach Iveory Perkins at (734) 462-2672 or email@example.com.