Three Ferndale Firemen Jobs Temporarily Safe…

Three Ferndale Firemen Jobs Temporarily Safe as Merger Talks ContinueJudyPalmer01

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 29, 2014)

Talks of a fire department merger between Ferndale and Hazel Park have been going on for years, but the hopefulness continues this week as Ferndale City Council voted to delay three firefighter layoffs in anticipation of the merger moving forward.

Four firefighters had been funded under a SAFER Grant from April 2011- April 2013.  In April 2013 Ferndale City Council voted to keep the four firemen on staff by funding their salaries out of the general fund until the end of the year, at a cost of $186,143.

One of the four firefighters left the department, leaving three with their jobs up in the air.  Council voted gallowaycollens1unanimously Monday (though Councilperson Mike Lennon was absent) to pay for their salaries until the end of June 2014.  This will take about $136,000 out of the general fund.

Currently both Ferndale and Hazel Park have millages in place funding police and fire operations, and those  are due to expire in the next couple of years.  Talks between the cities are moving toward the creation of a regional fire authority, which would need to be placed on the ballot for public approval.  The Authority would be its own governmental entity, managed by a publicly elected board with a stabilized funding source.  Taxes would be collected specifically to pay for fire service, much the same way the library is funded.

“I think this is something that is smart for us to do and that we need to do,” said Councilperson Dan Martin.

The barrier is mostly financial.  Ferndale City Manager April Lynch explained “They have a unique situation in Hazel Park that they’re at a new level of bare bones, so they’re really struggling with what DENGATE _Fern115_Admillage they can support.”

Councilperson Melanie Piana has come up with her own explanation for why the process is taking so long.  “My general comment is ‘you can’t make someone marry you.’  And so we are working really hard to make this marriage work, and it just takes longer than you think it will take… I know we have to stop at some point courting a city that’s not willing to marry us, but I don’t think that has come to pass yet.”

Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan assured Council that he was comfortable with having the three firefighters on, rather than four.  Lynch also assured Council that more would be known on the progress of the merger by sidebar01reader_supportthe time Council would meet in March to discuss the budget.

For previous stories on the fire merger and SAFER grants see:

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