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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI

SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 2001 AT 9:00 A.M.

COUNCIL CHAMBERS NOVI CIVIC CENTER 45175 W. TEN MILE RD.

 

Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 9:07 a.m.

Mayor Clark led pledge of allegiance.

ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo, Council Members Bononi, Cassis, Csordas, DeRoche, Kramer,

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: none

PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING Ė 2001-2002 CITY OF NOVI BUDGET:

Andrew Mutch, asked questions regarding judgment trust fund dealing with potential lawsuits. City Manager Helwig responded this current year has $325,00 and recommendation is for $475,000 for upcoming year. Mr. Mutch asked if it would be ongoing? Response was it will be Councilís decision but if there was the need for judgment bonds, we would have to set aside $325,000 for 17 years that would allow for $2 million in judgment bonds. Mr. Mutch questioned if the money is not needed, what will happen?

Member DeRoche arrived at 9:11 a.m.

Mr. Mutch felt it was a significant amount of money not to be spent on city services. Noted itís the current taxpayers who were paying into it and future taxpayers might not have to pay anything. Itís an equity issue. Also he mentioned the funds set aside for the Grand River overpass. Whatís the projection for fixing gravel roads? City Manager Helwig responded there were funds designated for Beck and Taft road but not for Meadowbrook. The mid 90ís bond sale funds would be used for the bridge as the Crescent Drive project was not completed and did not take away any funds from other road projects. Mr. Mutch felt Meadowbrook south of 12 Mile was in terrible shape. Also asked about sidewalk or bike path. DPS Nowicki responded 10 mile from Orchard Ridge to Novi Road was in the works for a bike path as the City was obtaining easements. We want to combine this with bike path on south side of 9 mile from Novi to Meadowbrook Road with Old Novi Road bike path. We are awaiting notice of grant funds, Mr. Mutch was concerned about funds not being set aside for these projects. City Manager Helwig responded that we do have funds for Old Novi Road. Mr. Mutch felt it the city can find money for other projects, we should find money for these bike paths. He stated it was clear that Council was reducing the role of the consultants as it related to Planning. Mr. Mutch predicted that this would cost the city more than estimated and felt it would require more staff, more space than requested/projected and was doubtful that quality of service would come with it.

Mayor Clark noted the Quail Ridge project was a joint project with Novi and Northville. Had we done nothing, Oakland and Wayne County would have imposed a drain district on us and they would have done the work and sent us the bill. Tower Automotive had a high-speed line installed for them that cost about $60,000 and Tower Automotive has agreed to make a $50,000 donation to the City. Grand River bridge was a matter of eminent public safety and the threat was to the residents of the City and even though the Road Commission inspected it and it was safe at that time, they stated they would close it immediately if the status changed. The impact to the community would be immense if this happened both for businesses and public safety vehicles. We were to pursue every means for reimbursement. With regard to the consultants, we would still have to provide these services if they left us tomorrow. The principles do not change, and we are trying to achieve economies of scale that would effectuate cost savings to residents. This makes economic sense to follow the proposal and if it changed, Council would take appropriate action.

 

PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING Ė 2001-2002 CITY OF NOVI BUDGET:

1. Continuation of 2001-2002 budget discussion

City Manager Helwig noted that staff responded to the requests from the budget meeting of April 18th. This included the following: consultant fees, comparison of engineering rates, engineering soft costs, credit card fees, Spring Clean-up Day, summary of planning studies from 1990-2001 and information from EMS and Fire Services task force and incident information regarding response times for stroke and cardiac arrest.

Member Cassis asked about the procedure for today. Mayor Clark responded that Chief Lenaghan would respond to some concerns voiced at the last budget meeting. Also Chief Shaeffer may want to report on any concerns. Member Cassis asked if Council would be voting on different entries in the budget? Mayor Clark noted he thought there might be one more meeting where specific proposals would be addressed. Member Cassis asked about expressing different views regarding separate categories. City Manager Helwig reported that the 6 program categories form the core of policy discussion would be public safety, roads, city services, parks and forestry, environment and economic development. The goal would be to try to reach consensus as the process flows. Member Cassis thought Council should actually express their opinions on each of these categories.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo noted she didnít want to get into each line item of each budget and if there were particular concerns, they should be noted. Member Cassis expressed that Council should express their concerns on each of the 6 items so we know where each member stands regarding these 6 items.

Chief Lenaghan stated his message was to look at the infrastructure based on funds in the budget. Some specific areas in Fire were personnel, 24 hour supervisors and staffing for station 4 when open, assignment of 2 person crews and 5 full time staffing, paid on-call staffing, paid on-call and auxiliary had wages combined, top end pay had wages adjusted, recruiting transferred to Human Resources, operations include outfitting fire fighters with a replacement program, and changing operations room to include upgrades.

Mayor Clark asked Chief Lenaghan to clarify motions regarding the number of people certified in ALS (Advanced Life Support). Chief Lenaghan responded13. Mayor Clark noted we are not certified by the State because we do not have a full time program. Discussion was held regarding staff arriving on site and not being able to provide ALS. City Manager Helwig noted the first motion included adding 1-2 full time firefighters and maintaining the paid on-call system. We could end up at the end of 5 years with the city providing ALS. We could look at long term plans as the community went through a very divisive campaign last year and we donít want that ever again. This was in the best interest of the community. The other option would be to put those people on board now rather than wait 5 years and make the financial commitment with the community. The pledge option would be for 5 years at 2 per year with no additional personnel for 5 years. Our own bias as staff would be to put that into service now. We would still have to pay for ambulance service if they were on a run.

Mayor Clark noted the amount of growth was explosive over the last 10 years. For the Chief to be able to do this, he must have the tools. If we did this over 5 years, we would end up with 10 people but we still donít have the capability in-house. Referred to two separate motions made by the EMS and Fire Services Task force.

Member DeRoche stated the first motion would add 1-2 full time fire fighters and maintain the paid on call system with a day time staff. The second motion includes hiring 9 new full time dual-purpose firefighters to begin this year and use the $650,000 for this purpose. Member DeRoche asked about cross training current employees.

City Manager Helwig responded it is envisioned to provide ALS response first, and then private ambulance provides transportation to the hospital.

Member DeRoche clarified that a fire fighter might show up in a truck and could do either, fight a fire or provide ALS as two people must always appear at the scene.

City Manager Helwig stated that part of the funds would come back to the City as we had provided the ALS support. He noted fiscal discipline was very important in this budget document. He stated he was trying to make up for the growth of the City with personnel.

Member DeRoche stated they would receive comparable response times and the other alternative would have comparable response times, as somebody would already be on the truck. Felt the second alternative was more expensive. Chief Lenghan stated 9 people would be about $490,000 with $25,000 in equipment and additional radio equipment. This must operate 24 hours per day according to State law.

Mayor Clark noted that we were ensuring that our seniors do not have to leave the community and cited senior projects including Meadowbrook Commons, Waltonwoods, and the Ercisson community that was coming. Proposal to have 1 unit for $249,000 per year is a little more than one third for what was set aside for potential department needs. The actual cost projected for one operating unit was in excess of $250,000 and we would still be dependent on an outside source. Cited the two proposals, with one less costly up front, and even with 1-2 per year over 5 years, we will be 5 years before we are at the staffing level needed for certification by the State. This makes us dependent on ALS services in our community.

Chief Lenaghan noted that training alone was at least $2,000 per student and increases every year. There wasnít a lot of cash return on this. $57 wasnít very much. Response times were about 6 minutes within the community. There would be a cost increase just due to an employee-run system. His recommendation was for startup costs that would increase.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo thanked Chief Lenaghan for responding with the information. In reviewing numbers, biggest issue we have is consistency with response time for both medical and fire. We should be striving for consistency. Supports hiring 9 full time fire fighters this year with a pledge of a hiring freeze for 5 years. This isnít just a response time for medical emergencies but for structure fires. Quoted monetary losses from structure fires. Noted we only have paid on call from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. from 6-8 pm, there was no staff present. Proposal would address the improvement of response times. Also asking for increase in paid on-call wages. We must be competitive with other communities in paying the on-call employees. With hiring 9 full time and equipment we would still be within the $650,000 range allocated for this purpose. Chief Lenaghan noted the service we get from EMS was not paid for. Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked about alternative to #2 of first motion. Member Csordas noted this alternative has not been confirmed either way right now. Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo thought this would be a good alternative if it worked. If we hire 9 paramedics, who would transport? Chief Lenaghan responded it would be a private ambulance. The set of guidelines for this is with the City and Community EMS. They would be afforded the first call and have been since 1996. City Manager Helwig noted it would become a contract. Stated that for future planning, we would go out for proposals. We would still not pay anything and we would still go out for RFPís. They have represented there wouldnít be a cost.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if we go with motion #2, hiring 9 full time, we would still have a private ambulance with possibly no charge and they would respond to the scene for transport. City Manager Helwig noted ALS would take care of you at your house. She supported the second motion as it addressed more of the issue Preferred to do this and make the pledge for no more hiring for 5 years. Public safety and response to medical or fire emergencies were very important and funds have already been allocated.

Mayor Clark reported that property loss was $1.7 million and that was about 10 percent.

Member Cassis asked about fire loss. Chief Lenaghan noted fire safety was geared to fire prevention. Most are heat and smoke damage. Noted that smoke damage was costly as far as total fire. Also reported that response time does make a difference. Member Cassis noted that the damages might not be geared to actual fire damage itself. He asked if Troy was licensed by the State as being certified? Chief Lenaghan responded they were volunteer. Member Cassis asked if we were comparing Farmington Hills with Novi? Chief Lenaghan responded that they made the transition to partially staffed and paid on call with 30 or more full time. They did a survey of all fire departments asking if they were full time, do they transport or have ALS? We discovered that Novi is in the small 15% that doesnít provide this. Discussion centered on how Novi compares to other communities. Many people still leave the community during the day for work and school. Most responses were to businesses in main areas. Member Cassis asked about a fire fighter responding and if another call comes in, what would happen? Chief Lenghan noted that with backup, our 3 medic units and first responder go but we cannot furnish life support with anything other than the first unit. Further discussion centered on why a hospital would want to offer a vehicle for free. American Medical Response leaves their vehicle at Providence. Chief noted that private ambulances are individually owned.

Mayor Clark noted that in most cases, ambulance companies check with patients for insurance or where their doctor is at and that dictates where they go. Member Csordas clarified that when referring to the City, itís only no cost to the City, not free to those using the service. Member Cassis noted that these people are performing the service because they get benefit. Also stated that a great job has been done with the paid on-call and full time and he noted that the vote on the EMS and fire task force was 8-2 for the first proposal. He wouldnít want to second-guess those who were there at the meeting. Felt we could still add more full time personnel in the future if needed. Also thought City Manager Helwig would return to Council if more employees were needed to make this work. Asked what the financial capability of the City was at this time? Noted we need a rainy day fund for emergencies and noted it was used last year. Our credit rating was dependent on the strength we have had to back up our emergencies. Those things were why we have good financial ratings to obtain better rates with our bonds. Inflation was 3% and wondered why we should go above that.

Mayor Clark clarified that the task force recommended these things to give the costs and choices but the final decision would be made at this table. Basically the recommendation was just for us to provide ALS and to do it right.

Council recessed at 10:47 a.m.

Council reconvened at 11:03 a.m.

Member Kramer asked if it was a goal to have all fire stations manned with 2 full time people 24 hours per day? Also asked what hiring 9 paramedics would provide in terms of coverage per station per day? Chief Lenaghan responded it would cover one station and one vehicle. Member Kramer asked how many full time employees there were now? Chief Lenaghan responded there were currently 25 including a secretary. To do the ALS program employees would have to go to 24 hours. So they would have their 48 hour, or daytime people, in a separate unit made up of 9 people that would man this one truck at Station 1. Member Kramer said we are doing this with full time people and we already have 24 full time people, which could be qualified ALS people. Chief Lenaghan said there are four that are qualified. Member Kramer said this would give us 33 people total. Chief Lenaghan agreed. Member Kramer said we could chose to allocate those 33 any way that made sense for operations. Chief Lenaghan said four of them are staff people. The shift people are 20 this would take the shift people to 29. Member Kramer wanted to see how that was allocated and what that provided. Chief Lenaghan said the 20 that currently work for us cover the daytime Monday through Friday. There are two supervisors and 18 firefighters for the four stations. Member Kramer asked if that provided two people on day shift for four stations for how many days a week? Chief Lenaghan said it provided 16 per day and they try to put 2 people on each truck. We have eight first line vehicles, four engines, and four rescue trucks. Member Kramer didnít want to get into numbers he just wanted to know how this would support the goal and he didnít see the goal and was not understanding it. He asked what the goal was for ALS? Chief Lenaghan said it would provide a second vehicle in the city operated by the Fire Department to get ALS service to the community. One vehicle would be manned by firefighters 24-7; we currently have this with a private company. Our goal is to have response time target goals. Member Kramer felt it didnít matter who provided that service at this point. Member Kramer asked if part of the goal was to provide for more than one incident at a time? Chief Lenaghan said one ALS could handle one incident at a time. The goal is for Council to establish. Member Kramer said the goal that he saw was that one immediate ALS would be provided and if a second incident occurred, they would get the service we are using now which would not be ALS but an ambulance. He asked what Alternative 2 provided and thought that it didnít provide anything different? Both proposals provide one on site first response team not for multiple. Chief Lenaghan said it was currently provided by a private company that is under a guideline to meet a certain criteria. Chief Lenaghan was saying they would put one in the Fire Department which would put two in the City and we would put this company under contract and set up a performance standard for them as well to increase the level of service. Member Kramer said the Alternative 2 did not include bringing the ambulance company into the city? Chief Lengahan said it would be backed up by the private ambulance company. Member Kramer said it is not located in the City today? Chief Lenaghan said they had no building here, they were out of Southfield but they have quarters off of Ten Mile and keep units in the City and they rotate them as service requires. Member Kramer said Alternative 1 provides an on site dedicated unit and Alternative 2 does not. Chief Lenaghan said correct and also required the services of a private company. Member Kramer said the philosophy under Alternative 2 was the private unit would become primarily the transportation unit. The City ALS would show up first and the ambulance showed up second primarily with a goal of being the transportation unit. Chief Lenaghan said they would provide backup for ALS. Member Kramer said their backup is the type of service we have now where they are in the area but did not have a dedicated site.

Member Kramer felt Alternative #1 was a created solution and was reasonable, responsible and affordable. He was disappointed in Alternative 2. The budget we are looking at had set aside $650,000 to apply to the resolution of this program and he felt it had gutted the budget this year and there was very little left to do anything else with. Alternative 1 would provide 2 full time fire fighters this year with the presumption consideration of adding two more in subsequent years and would allow the costs of the program to grow with our ability to pay. Alternative 2 was something that we can barely afford this year. Felt alternative 1 provided the goals and services that Alternative 2 did but in a different and more efficient manner. It also allowed growth and he encouraged Firefighters be trained and brought on as ALS. He did not interpret in the goals that it was a goal to become State certified. Both Alternatives provide the service, they both do it right and they both do it now. The cost is different. We should own and attain that expertise but it did not have to be done now and to do it would be irresponsible, unrealistic, and not feasible without a milege increase. Alternative 1 is a creative solution, it served the goals, is affordable and left funds to do other things the City needs and doesnít short change our fire and emergency service deliverance. Member Kramer felt that Council set aside $650,000 as an umbrella to cover this program and not to give to the Fire Department to do with as they wish. Money left over would go back into the General Fund and as ideas came they would decide amongst the total where the funds went. He would not support the remainder of the $650,000 staying with the Fire Department. We want to provide a significant foundation for a decent alternative.

Member Kramer felt Alternative 2 was an appropriate end point with a five year horizon. It would be looked at often to ascertain mid course corrections. It may be a very appropriate position five years from now in which case we have earned our certification and could reallocate or do what is appropriate with the ambulance service at that time. He felt it was a very important decision and very important to total the costs for everything from Alternative One. If we are focused on our goals and consider the alternative means to get there with creative solutions and thoughtful recommendations made he would support the most cost effective solution.

Mayor Clark noted that even with proposal #1, we would still have to tell residents that while we have the skills, we canít use them. Also needed were the costs of a dedicated unit discussed in alternative 1. Member Kramer noted that we would use their fire skills and bank their ALS skills. One goal was to man the station and as we add people, we would be chipping away at that goal too.

Member Csordas began by stating the City was very fortunate to have such a dedicated, straightforward Fire Chief of the City. He always kept in mind the best interests of the City. That was irreplaceable. The Chiefís work including statistics supports the idea of the growth of the fire department commensurate with the city. We need to remember that in November the voters said no to a 24-hour full time fire department. Felt it was clear that there was no crisis and that the department performed extremely well. After 24 years, the department was working just fine. He addressed the facts that there was very low participation at the EMS and Fire Task force public forums. Many who spoke at these meetings were fire fighters from other communities. It speaks volumes that the City perceived there was no problem. Specifically, what was happening in Novi was that every 7 days, once a week, there was a fire in Novi. The stations were spotless, businesses were inspected and the Chief runs a very tight organization. Noted we are a young city and the method of building was that all businesses over 10,000 square feet were now required to have sprinklers. Response times are well within that of other communities. Itís always good to achieve perfection. The voters in November said we donít need full time. Noted we have 5 runs per day and only 1 fire per week. These range from no need, to false alarm to cardiac arrest. Cited a Wall Street Journal article that stated as blazes become fewer, fire fighters take on new duties. Very interesting trend that fires go down but wages and employment goes up. Thanks to modern day safety precautions, fires are down. Spoke about a possible requirement that 4 fire fighters might be on a truck each time they leave the station. All fire fighters have a beloved image in the communities but depend on fear to promote their image. For ALS certification, he supports Member Kramer that we train everyone for this skill. The task force didnít come with a recommendation. He wanted it on the record that he would have been opposed to the second motion made at the task force for hiring 9 full time paramedic/fire fighters to being Fire Department ALS service. He supports public safety and we can immediately hire 2 fire fighters with this $650,000 and thought overall it might cost around $140,000. Cited pages in budget books, one of his goals was for promotions for 2 captains and 2 lieutenants. vehicle extricater (jaws of life), infrared heating system, repair driveway at one of the stations and noted we could give these things to him. With non-hydrant fed areas, it was less than 10% of the total area of the city. Noted we could also give defibrillators to the Police Chief, communications UPS for Police, and consider reinstating car allowance for Chief and Deputy. Noted that makes sense. By beginning with $650,000 and obtaining 2 fire men and then all the above items, the police department would get $141, 085 and would result in a balance of $27,835 that could be used for turnout gear. This all works toward ALS certification. Agrees there was a good system in place that can be grown with the City. Makes sense to have the police and fire departments grow with the city.

Mayor Clark noted this might be affected by a dedicated unit, which would have to include the numbers for this service prior to a decision by Council regarding the motion made at the EMS and Fire Services Task Force. It can be decided once the figures were obtained.

Member DeRoche felt this was a good debate, one of the best in 4 years.

Member Bononi was interested in response time. That is the one thing that needs improvement. She was mindful of the comments at the task force. Asked how did we get here? It was as a result of last yearís election. She received very many calls about this to find out where she stood on it and how should people vote on it. With regard to motion #1, it was the best they came up with. Response time Ė they were looking for better response time from EMS and Fire response as well and we were all committed to it. They listened to providers and doctors and groups who told them of many ways to accomplish this. There was even disagreement about what constitutes an adequate response time. She didnít hear anything that said a better response time or service could be provided by a private service or a fire department. Arizona had service unparalleled. Each community found a way to do it best and from the standpoint of union vs. non-union, there was great concern about paid on call people who were feeling disenfranchised. We will get there but how and what service we provide was the question. Member Kramer asked about multiple incidents and how the City would respond. Chief Lenaghan stated the worst-case scenario would be a nursing home fire. Simultaneous response was usually 3 or 4 units and after that we call in our neighbors to assist. The arrangement we have with CEMS causes some concern. We can add a required performance standard If it required payment for a dedicated vehicle. Chief Lenaghan said we should improve response time implementing proposal #2. Member Bononi felt the first proposal was quantitative and second has no quantitative results. Citizens want better response time and we can do this by way of a formal business agreement. Team efforts produce the best results and as a group, we are smarter than anyone is individually. She would support motion #1.

Mayor Clark commented that the fire task force addressed a very serious issue Ė public safety. No one was left out as there was representation from every area of the community. Tried to make the process as open as possible.

Next meeting was scheduled for April 23, 2001 from 7-10 p.m.

Thanked EMS and Fire Services Task force for their dedication of hours put in as Council couldnít have had this discussion today with their proposals.

 

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION:

ADJOURNMENT: 12 :09 p.m.

______________________________ ______________________________

Richard J. Clark, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk

 

Date approved: May 7, 2001