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Groveland Could Join North Oakland County Fire Authority, Study Review Feb. 7

Groveland Could Join North Oakland County Fire Authority, Study Review Feb. 7

Groveland Township, MI – Officials in Groveland Township are considering the potential savings and other benefits of merging their fire department into the North Oakland County Fire Authority.  On Feb. 7 there’s a public meeting where the Township Board will receive its first feasibility study from NOCFA, the agency which currently serves Rose Township and Holly Township.

Groveland Township is currently collecting 3.8 mils in taxes to fund its two fire houses, and the millage is up for renewal soon. Groveland Township Supervisor Robert DePalma said the officials are living up to their commitment to reduce costs, with the new plan allowing them to reduce tax collection to 3.5 mils.

Savings comes from reduced administration costs, as well as the ability to pool money for supplies, equipment, training costs, staffing etc.

“It’s to try to get our costs in line with what a community our size should be spending, and getting a plan that we think will meet that going forward,” DePalma told the Oakland County Times after the Board’s Jan. 13 meeting.

The meeting will be at 4 p.m. February 7 and will be open to the public. The formal feasibility study and tax analysis are being conducted by NOCFA Chief Jeremy Lintz.

He told Oakland County Times that economies of scale have been a proven method in increasing efficiency throughout the state. When asked, he said that it was too early to tell if taxes would go up or down in Groveland Township; or Rose and Holly townships.  Currently Rose and Holly each pay about $680,000 a year to be part of NOCFA.

“It’s hopefully going to pan out that it is feasible, and that the Groveland employees can actually make more money than they are now,” Lintz said. “We want there to be a benefit to both sides if this happens. Obviously, we can’t have one party getting the short end of the stick. We have to make sure that it’s cost-saving across the board.”

The idea of giving up their own department to be part of a regional collaborative is hard for some of the residents, with several speaking against it.

“With the merger that’s being proposed, we feel that our hands are tied because our elected representatives are not listening to what the residents want,” Groveland Township resident Sue Taylor said.

“I am not in favor of the merger,” Groveland Fire Chief Kevin Mason said, adding that the merger would save less than a mill and that “We’ve built it up, and to turn it over is not desirable.”  Under a merger, firefighters would keep their jobs, but their leader would be NOCFA’s Chief Lintz.

NOCFA has a board made up of two representatives appointed by each participating township.  The authority was formed in 1984, covering 69 square miles with a population of 10,112. According to their website there are 49 active paid on call members that include firefighters, medical personnel, and scene support members.

One question raised by a resident was whether there would still be two fire stations in Groveland if a merger is approved. Both Trustee Jim Christopher and Supervisor DePalma stated that the Township’s two current stations would remain in use. NOCFA Chief Lintz said that there would be no staff changes or equipment changes, at least at first.

Supervisor DePalma responded to the public’s concerns by stating that the board was elected to reduce costs, “which is what we’re doing.”

The meeting on Feb. 7 is to accept the report.  It takes place at 4pm at Groveland Township Hall, 4695 Grange Hall Rd. Meeting information can be found on the Groveland Township website. For more on NOCFA visit www.NOCFA.org.

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