By Candice Williams
The Detroit News
MELVINDALE, Mich. — The city of Melvindale might soon have one public safety director for its fire and police departments, as it did more than 30 years ago.
The move has yet to go to a vote, but it would save the city about $120,000 annually as it tries to close a $1.1 million deficit, officials said. The city would keep separate fire and police departments.
"I think it will stabilize things between the two departments," said Melvindale Mayor Stacy Striz. "I don't see a need to lay anybody off or ask for (wage) concessions or anything like that."
Striz said the idea to merge the positions came after Police Chief Rick Cadez and Fire Chief Dan Wilhelm announced their retirements, effective at the end of the month.
Cadez has been with the Police Department for 27 years, while Wilhelm has served the city with the Fire Department for 25 years.
The cost savings is part of the city's five-year plan to trim its budget at a time when Metro Detroit communities are looking for ways to consolidate services. The city also expects to save money by implementing intermittent street lighting on Allen Road and changing to a bimonthly recycling schedule.
"We're thinking about every cut that we can make," Striz said.
The city hopes to address any charter and ordinance issues in time to have a leader in place by April 1, Striz said. The public safety commission expects to name two interim chiefs during a Dec. 27 meeting to fill in until a director is named.
Cadez, who has been with the city for 37 years, said the police and fire departments were led by one person until the mid-1970s. A change to the charter created a fire chief position.
"Times have changed," Cadez said. "Money is a lot more scarce. People are trying to come up with ways of saving money. I can't say I know all the intricacies of the Fire Department. If there's a person overseeing the department and all those things are done, it's a great idea."
Detective Mike Welch of the police officers union said having one director can work with the right person.
"I think if this person is capable of doing the job, I think it will be a cost safety measure for the city," he said. "I haven't heard any objection to it."
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