By Rosemary K. Otzman
On March 4, the Belleville City Council approved a new dispatch and lockup contract with Van Buren Township — at the old price.
Mayor Kerreen Conley said after city and township people met together, “the price is held to the same amount as last year.”
That is $122,900 for dispatch of police and fire plus $22,700 for use of the lockup for a total of $145,600 for 2013.
The 10-page contract has pretty much the same wording as last year, Mayor Conley said.
Councilwoman Kim Tindall said she still doesn’t like the part of the contract on page 7 that says if the actual costs to the township to provide the service is more than estimated, the city will also pay the extra cost, which will be documented.
“They can bill us for any additional cost as they see fit,” she said, noting she had said this same thing last year regarding the contract wording, which didn’t get changed.
“I know they never have [billed extra] and I hope they never do … but it is open-ended,” Tindall said.
Mayor Conley asked Fire Chief Brian Loranger if he had any issues with the fire dispatch.
He said there are issues, but some have to do with the new 800 MHz system. He said, also, he would like more information given on his department’s way to a run. He said, for instance, they had a run to the middle school for a female with difficulty breathing. He said it would have helped if the responders knew going in whether it was a student or adult, if there were other medical problems, and other information.
There also is an ongoing problem with the dispatchers not looking at Belleville’s “I Am Responding” information that tells the fire chief who is coming to the fire so he knows whether to call for mutual aid.
“Some dispatchers look at it, some don’t,” he said.
Tindall said last year the council members who visited the dispatch center were assured by Public Safety Director Carl McClanahan that every dispatcher in that room would look at the “I Am Responding” every time.
Mayor Conley said there are provisions in the contract for communications and she didn’t know if the city was following through as it should to tell the township of its issues.
She said this was not a contractual issue.
Loranger said sometimes issues are not a big deal and he blows them off.
As to additional charges, Mayor Conley said, “They are required to send documentation. They can’t just send us a bill.”
Former Mayor Tom Fielder said that the first year the city had VBT dispatching, the city and township had a standing committee that met monthly, when needed. He said they could discuss issues in a less invasive way, in a less formal session.
In other business at the March 4 meeting, the council:
• Set a public hearing for 7:30 p.m., March 18, on an amendment to the utilities part of the Code of Ordinances that would allow charging for water or sewer by the gallon or thousands of gallons. Also, an amendment is proposed to allow the city to turn off the water if the property owner doesn’t allow the city in to change the meters;
• Set a public hearing for 7:30 p.m., March 18, to discuss repealing part of the the Buildings and Building Regulations of the Code of Ordinances that will make certificates of occupancy required any time a building is occupied or reoccupied. Multiple dwellings are the only category not affected by this change;
• Approved a schedule for preparing the 2013-14 city budget so that it can be accepted at the June 3 meeting. The schedule calls for the city manager to present a proposed budget to the council on May 6 and then it will be publicly discussed at 6 p.m., May 13; 6 p.m., May 15; 7:30 p.m., May 20; and 7:30 p.m., June 3 at the required public hearing. Council members will be assigned departments to study during this period;
• Approved a grant application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Belleville Downtown Development Authority, which has committed to paying 30% ($51,720) of the project cost of $172,400 for Horizon Park improvements;
• Approved $202,645.46 in accounts payable and the following departmental purchases in excess of $500: to Barrett Paving, $506.01 for cold patch from the water dept.; to Goodyear Tire, $523.96 for tires from the police dept.; to Hennessey Engineers, $569.50 for sewer lining work, from the water dept.; and to R.L. Evans, $1,895 for Main Street Lights, from the general fund/DDA;
• Learned a contract with a company that will allow credit card payments for city services will be considered at the next council meeting on March 18. Budget amendments for the 2012-13 year will also be considered at that meeting; and
• Heard Fire Chief Loranger report that with the Sequestering by the federal government chances of getting any fire department grants are “pretty slim.”
By Rosemary K. Otzman