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Macomb County

December 25, 2013

Fire unions seek consolidation in 2014

By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer

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The Harrison Township Fire Department would be one of four Macomb County fire unions consolidating services and equipment, should a grant be secured to fund a study for a Mid Macomb Fire Services merger early next year, possibly joining Mount Clemens, Clinton Township and Sterling Heights.

MACOMB COUNTY — Harrison Township and Mount Clemens are just two of the four Macomb County communities looking at the idea of creating a consolidated fire department in an effort to reduce costs and improve services through sharing services and equipment.

Harrison Township’s Board of Trustees took the first step during their Dec. 9 meeting when they unanimously approved a resolution securing a $12,900 contribution to a $200,000 study to determine the feasibility of forming a Mid-Macomb Fire Service and how it would impact the communities and those surrounding.

Township Supervisor Kenneth Verkest said all four communities whose unions are considering such a merger — Harrison, Mount Clemens, Clinton Township and Sterling Heights — must approve similar resolutions before the state grant expires on Feb. 24, 2014.

“I definitely think there’s value in it (the merger), and I’m pretty excited about it, frankly,” he said.

Trustee Jack Swiatkowski agreed.

“What comes along with it is an improvement in service,” he said.

The boundaries of the merger would run from Hall Road to 14 Mile, Dequindre to Lake St. Clair.

Andy Houde, president of the Harrison Township Firefighters Union Local 1737 said union leaders from the communities approached Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel approximately six months ago to introduce the idea.

Houde said a $50,000 Competitive Grant Assistance Program grant from the Michigan Department of Treasury was later secured, and those funds will be used to help fund the study for a Mid-Macomb Fire Services merger. He said the study would examine different aspects of such a merger, such as effects on legacy costs, operations and future fire millages.

Verkest said state grant funds will pay for 25 percent of the study. The remaining $150,000 would be shared: Macomb County has agreed to contribute 10 percent, while the firefighters’ unions would each contribute 10 percent, and the four municipalities would provide the remaining 80 percent based on population and state equalized property values.

Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey said the City Commission will discuss and vote on the issue during their Jan. 6, 2014, meeting.

“I don’t anticipate any problems with it,” Dempsey said. “I anticipate it going forth; I can’t imagine it wouldn’t.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Julie Snyder at jsnyder@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1039.