(Crystal A. Proxmire, 5/16/2011)
Tonight the City Council of Berkley is scheduled to vote on a contract with The City of Pleasant Ridge for Fire Protection services if needed to fill a gap in coverage as the cities consider a Public Safety merger along with Huntington Woods. (http://www.berkleymich.org/documents/5-16-11.pdf)
Currently Pleasant Ridge contracts with the Ferndale Fire Department to provide fire and rescue service. In order to terminate the contract Pleasant Ridge is required to give Ferndale two years’ notice, which is expected to happen if tonight’s contract is approved.
The proposed agreement before Berkley’s Commission states “Berkley and Pleasant Ridge have been discussing combining, in some manner, Berkley’s Public Safety Department and Pleasant Ridge’s Police Department into one Public Safety Department, and are concerned that the discussions will not be concluded by the upcoming deadline for Pleasant Ridge to exercise its right to terminate its existing contract for fire protection services with the City of Ferndale (the “Ferndale Contract”). Pleasant Ridge has requested that Berkley agree to provide fire protection services to Pleasant Ridge if it terminates the Ferndale Contract and the partied have not arrived at an agreement to combine Pleasant Ridge’s Police Department with Berkley’s Public Safety Department by the effective date that Ferndale discontinues providing fire protection services to Pleasant Ridge, and Berkley agrees to do so.”
“We have not yet given Ferndale notice, because we are not sure how everything is going to fit together” said Pleasant Ridge City Manager Sherry Ball. “The contract being considered by Berkley is like a safeguard. IF we decide to move to Public Safety and give Ferndale two years notice, the contract will guarantee that we have protection if the new plans are not finalized yet.”
Notification to end the contract must be given by June 30th of any given fiscal year. If notice is given, The Ferndale Fire Department will continue to serve Pleasant Ridge through 2013. Ferndale currently gets $346,500.00 until June 30th 2011, then $280,000.00 until June 30th 2012, then $265,000.00 until June 30th 2013 for providing fire service. The contract expires June 30, 2013 and the cities are still officially “in talks” until official notices is provided.
If Berkley takes over service, it will be at a cost of $104,000 in the first year, $109,000 in the second year, with the third year to be negotiated.
Ball said that for the past three years Pleasant Ridge officials have informed Ferndale officials about their plans to eventually merge with the other cities, and should not be a surprise to anyone.
“This is not, in any way, a negative reflection on their service,” Ball said. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about any of Ferndale’s services. I trust our community – and our lives – to them any day of the week. …Overall it’s about a million dollars for police and fire, and if we can reduce that by half we would be irresponsible not to consider it.”
A Public Safety model would combine the Pleasant Ridge Police Department and the Fire and Police services of Huntington Woods and Berkley into one unit. The three cities already have combined dispatch through Berkley. “We have been in talks with many neighboring cities over how to best cooperate. This seems to be the best fit for us at least for right now,” Ball said.
The City of Ferndale is currently involved in researching a potential merger with the Hazel Park Fire Department. For more information about the potential merger, see our previous article http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/04/04/fire-dept-merger-study-in-progress-ray-riggs-explains/.
For other Police and Fire news, go to – http://oaklandcounty115.com/category/policeandfire.