Mich. city to start own fire department
The move comes after Grand Blanc township officials decided to end its joint relationship with the city for fire services
The Flint Journal, Mich.
GRAND BLANC, Mich. — The city of Grand Blanc will start its own fire department later this year.
Beginning July 25, the city will provide services to its residents, a departure from a decades-long partnership with Grand Blanc Township.
“Our primary concern when making this decision is the City’s safety and protection with care and respect,” reads a statement issued Wednesday, April 10 after the council’s vote to approve the move.
The move comes after township officials decided to end its joint relationship with the city for fire services after eight decades over a disagreement on the amount contributed by each side.
Township Supervisor Scott Bennett previously said residents in the municipality have paid approximately 84 percent of the costs for the department that spans both communities, while the city residents pay the remaining 16 percent.
The two sides have operated on an agreement since 2010 through an ordinance which states fire operations would be funded on both sides by .5 mill in voter-approved funding with an additional .5 mill coming from the general funds.
After the approval of an extra .5 mill for the fire services by township voters in August 2018, Grand Blanc voters approved an additional .5 mill in November 2018.
The city paid approximately $330,000 in fire service costs during the previous budget year. The amount is estimated to hit $354,000 beginning in the new budget year.
“The City of Grand Blanc’s current operating budget will be used to fund the new Fire Department,” according to the statement. “There will be no interruption of service.”
Township board members agreed in March -- with council members finalizing it Wednesday night -- on a three-month extension to the tune of $85,470 that will provide fire service to the city until July 24, rather than the six-month extension offered for by the city. An existing agreement is due to expire on April 25.
Some questions do linger as township officials have said the current firefighters are employed by their governing entity.
A move was also recently made by township board members to use Brighton-based Metropolitan Appraisal to appraise fire equipment based on fair market value as part of the split.
The city will utilize Fire Station #1 -- situated on High Street behind the government offices -- to “ensure response times are kept at the same level of excellence,” reads the statement.
Wendy Jean-Buhrer, Grand Blanc City Manager, said Dennis Smith has been hired to lead the new department as chief.
Smith previously served as fire chief for the city of Fenton in southern Genesee County.
Jean-Buhrer noted the move is “not a decision we took lightly” and the topics of personnel and equipment will have to be discussed at the board’s April 24 meeting, as well as a motion on whether or not to accept the same appraiser, but she also expressed optimism.
“We are excited to start a new Fire Department,” she said. “The city council has entrusted much care with me and our new department.”
©2019 The Flint Journal, Mich.