REGULAR MEETING OF COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
MONDAY, APRIL 12, 1999 AT 7:30 PM
ACTIVITIES ROOM-NOVI CIVIC CENTER-45125 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor McLallen called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.
ROLL CALL: Mayor McLallen, Mayor ProTem Crawford, Council Members DeRoche (absent/excused), Kramer, Lorenzo, Mutch, Schmid
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Member Kramer requested that DDA discussion and resolution be added as item #2 under Purpose of Regular Meeting. Mr. Kriewall requested that Building and Ordinance Enforcement be added under Proposed Budge Review and Mayor McLallen added the heading of Developmental Services for Community Development, Planning Commission, Building and Ordinance Enforcement.
CM-99-04-090: Moved by Crawford, Seconded by Lorenzo, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as amended
Vote on CM-99-04-090: Yeas: McLallen, Crawford, Kramer, Lorenzo, Mutch,
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF REGULAR MEETING
1. 1999-2000 Budget Study Session
Mr. Kriewall mentioned there are no changes in personnel.
Mr. Lemmon mentioned the Assessing department has been busy the last couple of years. He mentioned that four out of eight staff members have moved into new positions within the past year. One new position has been added to the staff.
Mr. Lemmon indicated that they completed the reappraisal this past year. The project took two and one-half years to accumulate the information and sort the data. Traditionally, the Board of Review has had residential and commercial and industrial properties numbering around 550 appeals. This year there were 350 reviewed and even after the commercial and industrial appraisals were removed, he believes the information accumulated is representative. To his knowledge there has never been one comprehensive reappraisal for commercial or industrial.
Mr. Lemmon explained the residential reappraisal was put into a place the previous year. He believes the Assessing department has a good system. There now is a computer on the counter easier access to assessing information. He mentioned it would be nice to have another terminal for future use. The public has given positive feedback on the ability to access the information. All documents are together for easier access.
Mr. Lemmon said the year has been productive. He would like to improve the way condominiums are studied in 1999-2000. Condominiums are reviewed mostly through documents for square footage. Other criteria are found on the master deed. The Assessing department is looking to put this data on the computer for easier access.
Mr. Lemmon continued to explain the Assessing department wants to digitally photograph properties. The appraisal computer system is capable of holding digital photographs. The GIS system is also capable of holding digital photographs. Additionally, Oakland County has been aggressive with computer applications. Their goal is to have every property in Oakland County photographed. Mr. Lemmon is hopeful that the County will pay for the service, otherwise the cost will be around $15,000. He believes the pictures add credibility and professionalism to the Department.
Mr. Lemmon mentioned he hopes that the Board of Review Board pay increase will be approved. Board members are currently receiving $60 a day. The Assessing department conducted a survey of other communities and discovered they pay around $100 per diem.
He continued to explain the department is trying to reduce the number of tax tribunal cases. He commented there are no real changes from last year, other than adding money for tribunal appraisals.
Mayor McLallen asked for the names of the Assessing department staff. Mr. Lemmon stated Ken Cheyne is the Deputy Assessor, Jim Geiermann is the commercial and industrial appraiser, the three residential appraisers are Richelle Leskun, Debbie Blashfield and Stacey Hunter. Angie Moncrief and Ramona Benton are the two department clerks.
Member Schmid wanted clarification of the $30,000 for data processing. Mr. Lemmon explained $15,000 is for the digital photographs. Member Schmid wanted to know why the County wants a picture of every property? Mr. Lemmon said the County is taking an aggressive approach, the GIS system is set up so every parcel within the county will be established under certain guidelines. The County created a central location for these criteria to take place. The County has created a data warehouse where the information is collected. The County wants a photograph for equalization studies and also to sell information to appraisers. Mr. Lemmon said the County will charge $50 per request and the city will receive $15 of that fee.
Member Schmid commented if the County wants this information, the County should pay for it. Mr. Lemmon said he hopes that will be the case.
Member Schmid asked what the other $15,000 is for? Mr. Lemmon explained the City has roughly $11,300 for the Department of Information Technology. The appraisal system connects with the Oakland County Land Equal Tax Files. These files are also linked with the City Treasury files. This enables Assessing to transfer data to treasury and keep the accounts balanced. He to explained the tax bills are another issue. The County prints all the tax notices to link personal property. Mr. Lemmon explained it is a very good system.
Member Schmid asked if the County does the personal property auditing? Mr. Lemmon the County does audit for Novi. Member Schmid asked what revenue does this generate for the City? Mr. Lemmon believes it generates $166,509,000 of taxable value of personal property. This is about 10 mils or $166,000 for Novi. Mr. Gibson stated it used to be about 10%, of the budget, now it is a little less.
Member Schmid wanted clarification if Assessing does the entire commercial? Did it result with an increase in the assessed value? Mr. Lemmon answered yes.
Member Schmid questioned if properties on Grand River Avenue have come down in value. He questioned how property could come down on Grand River? Mr. Lemmon explained the values that were in place were not necessarily correct. That is why there was a reappraisal. Mr. Lemmon explained the best information available was used and applied uniformly. The same guidelines and multipliers were used. 250 properties increased and 30 experienced a reduction. He said various factors are involved in the evaluation.
Mr. Ken Cheyne explained land value adjustments were also done. There were wetlands on some of the properties. Adjustments were made where they have not been made in the past. That could adjust the land in a downward motion. He noted uniformity was stressed.
Member Schmid asked if some of the properties were over assessed in the past? Mr. Cheyne answered in some cases that was true. Member Schmid asked if there was pressure to reduce property value? Mr. Lemmon said absolutely not. Member Schmid commented that the Assessing department has done a remarkable job over the past years. Mr. Kriewall mentioned Proposition A has played a role in the issue.
Member Lorenzo asked if there are deteriorating properties in the proposed DDA district? She asked if some of the properties may have been over assessed or other factors not considered? She also asked if the properties are considered to be deteriorating in value? Mr. Lemmon explained for the purpose of the DDA the State would consider those to be deteriorating values. If there is a downward change from one year to the other regardless of why, the State would, under the DDA, consider that a deteriorating value.
Mr. Lemmon said if the process goes to the tribunal and the property value is lowered, cost effectiveness of fighting something in tribunal has to be considered. Is it worth spending $60,000 in litigation when the City would never recoup that amount even if the city won? Mr. Lemmon explained if there is not a lot of data gathered to support their case, it might be in the best interest for the City to litigate. Mr. Lemmon explained that does not mean the property has lost market value. It means that neither party has exceptional data and the parties have negotiated something palatable to all involved.
Member Lorenzo asked if the State considers market value for a DDA? Mr. Lemmon said no. Member Lorenzo commented that perhaps the properties that were adjusted does not mean they will be worth more money on the market? Mr. Cheyne said that is probably true. The City could win the tribunal case or the City could lose the case which could change the value. That does not mean the property is worth that. The owner could put it on the market and get that amount or more. Member Lorenzo commented once the property sells the value is readjusted. Mr. Cheyne commented as far as taxes, it is still at the taxable value until it sells.
Member Lorenzo asked how far back for sale purposes does the City go? Mr. Cheyne explained the Assessing department uses a 24-month sale study to adjust the assessment to the market.
Member Kramer asked if the $3,000 reflects the increase proposed for Board of Review members pay? Mr. Lemmon answered yes. Member Kramer asked if the increase in legal fees reflect the tribunal discussion? Mr. Lemmon said yes the city needs to have another party write the appraisal for the tribunal and be aggressive.
Member Kramer wanted clarification on the assessing consultant. There was nothing for several years, then $7,500 last year and $10,000 budgeted for next year. Mr. Lemmon said there was nothing for the 1998-1999 budget because there was some allocation. The Assessing department is entering into a three-tier appraisal process. He explained there is a company that is going to collect data, present the data to the department and then it will be determined if the department did or did not over asses a property. That data might also be used to go to the tribunal. Member Kramer asked if this is associated with tribunal cases? Mr. Lemmon said yes.
Mr. Cheyne mentioned Michael Shapiro is the best litigator in the state and no matter how prepared a city is, he can cut right through the case.
Member Mutch commented the $3,000 for Board of Review reflects increases in pay. Last year it was estimated it at $2,000. She asked what was anticipated? Mr. Cheyne answered they are using less days than in the past. This year they only used 3 days and last year was 5. The previous year more than that.
Member Mutch mentioned there is nothing under Tuition and Reimbursements for the year. Mr. Lemmon said he encourages the staff to take classes but would rather not ask for the money until the need arises. Nothing is anticipated at this time.
Mayor ProTem Crawford wanted clarification on the length of the session for the Board of Review? Mr. Lemmon explained the day usually runs from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The members might come in a little earlier, work through their breaks or have a shorter lunch. The Board also comes in for an organizational meeting about six days prior to the start of the Board. The Board meets in July and December.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked Assessing is requesting to increase the pay from $60 to $100 a day? Mr. Cheyne indicated the $100.00 would be for a full day.
Mayor ProTem Crawford wanted clarification on the digital equipment for photography. Is equipment is for a staff member or will the job be contracted out? Mr. Lemmon said he is asking for $15,000 for the digital camera and $15,000 for the photos and maintaining the photographs. Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if the original process would be contracted out. Mr. Lemmon said Oakland County would provide the equipment and personnel. He continued to explain the County is also working on other data processing.
Member Lorenzo asked if Assessing is comfortable with the Tax Tribunal? She mentioned she would like to see the data complied instead of settling on some cases. Mr. Lemmon mentioned again it comes back to being cost effective. Member Lorenzo asked what if Twelve Oaks Mall were involved? Mr. Lemmon said he would bring the situation before City Council.
Member Lorenzo said her concern is with growth coming into the city. Particularly with commercial and industrial and hopefully IRO; the benefits is it that they bring in higher assessed valves. Member Lorenzo said the reality is that because of the Tax Tribunal pressure, the City is not reaching their goal. Member Lorenzo commented the City needs to look at what it is going to cost versus the assessed value. Mr. Lemmon said the bottom line is what is the market value of the property? He explained if it is thought the City is right, the City may ask for an outside appraisal. Member Lorenzo asked if the proposed figure is enough? Mr. Lemmon said it is enough to start and get into a routine. Member Lorenzo commented she wants the Assessing department to be comfortable enough to come to the Council for support.
Mr. Cheyne commented it would be known this time next year what action needs to be taken. He said the monies asked for at this time, are for 1998 cases. He mentioned if something were to come up for 1999, it would be this next year that the City would know if they were going forward.
Member Mutch asked if the City wins a high profile case, part of the cost effectiveness is not just the successful return, but the example that would be set for others trying to challenge the City? Mr. Lemmon and Mr. Cheyne agreed. Mr. Lemmon commented the Assessing department wants to be known as being firm. The department is trying to develop a commercial and industrial database and develop relationships with other appraisers. Mr. Lemmon and Mr. Cheyne restated the firm position the Assessing department withholds.
Mayor McLallen thanked the Assessing department. She questioned the flat supervisor salary. Mr. Kriewall said salaries are not budgeted at this time. It is a contingency fund, which Council still has to approve.
Member Mutch asked what if there was not Proposal A? Mr. Lemmon indicated that Proposal A has been the greatest tool. Member Mutch asked if there is a way to find out what was gained or lost because of Proposal A? Mr. Lemmon and Mr. Cheyne said yes, there was a large sum for the first year then it leveled out.
CITY CLERK’S DEPARTMENT
Ms. Bartholomew explained the staffing has changed during the last year. Staffing changes were untimely for document imaging, but the office had a great year with the State Qualified Voter File. Ms. Bartholomew complimented the staff for being one of the first communities to go totally solo with the system in Michigan.
Mayor McLallen asked Ms. Bartholomew to explain the QVF to the Council. Ms. Bartholomew explained the system consists of two computers, printer, modem, Internet service and software, which was provided by the State. The State downloaded, through the drivers’ file, all the registered voters in the City of Novi and compared them to the old voter system. After this process, there were about 12,000 people which did not match. There has been a procedure the staff has been working on to accomplish the file matching.
Ms. Bartholomew explained the system provides, through the Michigan Information System, a digital mapping of all the streets in the State. Again, there was wrong information but corrections have been made.
Ms. Bartholomew said the system was used for the last election there were roughly 16,000 people who voted and only 104 problems. She mentioned the error ratio was low compared to the rest of the State. We will probably not encounter this type of situation again unless there is complete failure with the system.
Ms. Bartholomew explained information is downloaded every day from the State of Michigan. That information comes from the State of Michigan through the Internet. The Secretary of State office provides us witih MichNet.
She continued to explain there has been many law changes. She is involved with the Secretary of State Office and several committees to keep abreast of the current information and laws. She mentioned one of the biggest would impact a person’s operator’s license and voter registration. If the voter registration is changed it effects the operator’s license and vice versa. This is a law that will have a major impact on voters throughout the State of Michigan. This would eliminate fraud because a person with the same characteristics could not register in more than one city.
Business registrations are still in the process of data conversion. There has been major software complications that delayed certificate printing. The program has been retooled. The certificates have been printed and mailed.
Ms. Bartholomew explained the department is currently in the process of document imaging. She mentioned the technology is quite unique. The department has scanned four-years of Council minutes into the system. They are searchable, printable and can be put onto the website. They also can be put on a countertop computer, and the kiosk in the atrium. This will allow citizens to serve themselves. It will also allow the department to fill FOIA and Council requests in a more effective manner.
Ms. Bartholomew commented it has been a busy year. The department is receiving requests from all over the State for information. She commented the Clerk’s office is highly regarded at the State level. The staff has been working hard and been terrific throughout the process.
Budget changes for the department have mostly gone down with few increases. The major change is under the Tuition & Other Reimbursements. She said it appears to be going down by 50%, when in fact the money is being transferred into Conferences and Workshops. Ms. Bartholomew explained a number of staff have shown an interest in Community Education classes not college level courses. Mayor McLallen asked what kinds of classes are taken? Ms. Bartholomew explained many are computer-related.
Ms. Bartholomew commented the election workers pay line item has been decreased. The amounts were larger last year because of the Gubernatorial Election. Ms. Bartholomew explained that a primary might not be necessary, so only half of the money may be required.
Ms. Bartholomew said operating supplies, covers the cost of Plats from Oakland County. This also covers Engineering and Building department Plats. She said each Department receives the Mylar Plats as well as the permanent records maintained by the Clerk’s office.
There is money included for one Y2K computer for next year.
Ms. Bartholomew said Ordinance Codification line item amount is being carried forward.
Ms. Bartholomew said Transportation has been increased. Mayor ProTem Crawford wanted clarification. Ms. Bartholomew said it has increased to $800 from $500.
The Conferences & Workshop has increased to reflect the request from the Council for the Clerk to attend NLC.
Ms. Bartholomew mentioned this is the last year for payment on the election equipment in the amount of $25,000.
Member Mutch mentioned the estimated permanent salaries last year was $121,000 and the requested amount is $114,000. Why has this decreased when it usually stays at least even, if not go up? Ms. Bartholomew explained that two senior people left, who were at higher pay levels and have been replaced at the entry levels. She explained one of the openings has been filled and a higher salary will be required. Also the employee that left, had longevity and the replacement employee does not. Mr. Gibson said the higher level should not have any effect. Member Mutch asked if this amount would stand? Ms. Bartholomew commented it might go up slightly. Member Mutch commented since the new staff member is coming from another City department the numbers should work out in the end.
Member Kramer asked if the existing scanning system is able to service other areas? Ms. Bartholomew answered yes and no. Her goal is to have the imaging system going every day but that has been impossible with the shortage of staff. Member Kramer asked for recommendations. Mr. Kriewall answered there is a committee researching the situation.
Member Schmid asked if there is an end to codification? Ms. Bartholomew explained every time the Council adopts an ordinance it goes into the codification process. Member Schmid asked what is the process? Ms. Bartholomew explained the Municipal Code of Tallahassee, Florida takes the ordinance into their company where it is compared with by their Legal Department to make sure there are no conflicts on a basic level. It is than put into a format that allows the ordinance to be crossed-indexed with the existing code. When the Council reviews it, it is in a legal format. It is also put out on the Internet. She continued to explain hundreds of copies are printed. Member Schmid asked if there is an annual fee? Ms. Bartholomew said there are four supplements a year. It all depends on how many changes have been made. Member Schmid asked if there were no changes would it be zero or would there still be annual fee? Ms. Bartholomew stated if there were no changes, it would be around $1,000. Member Kramer commented with more work from Ordinance Review, does the budget need to be increased? That would depend, if Council adopted the proposed changes.
Ms. Bartholomew invited the City Council to come and view the imaging system.
Member Mutch commented on the persons who did not match with the replication. She asked what has to be done with these 12,000? Ms. Bartholomew explained each person had to be researched within the system to see what the problem was. Various issues where found and corrected.
Mayor McLallen thanked Ms. Bartholomew for the excellent report and for the outstanding work of the staff.
Chief Art Lenaghan started with Personal Services. Chief Lenaghan commented the Deputy Chief and Assistant Chief are the same position. The department is requesting an administrative position. The Police Department uses the title Deputy Chief so possibly that should be used as well with the Fire Department.
Chief Lenaghan gave a summary of the Fire Department personnel. The Department is looking for one administrative personnel. As incidents have increased in the city and as the city grows, it would be preferable to have a supervisor available during the evenings and weekends.
Chief Lenaghan asked for two positions last year but he has readjusted and is requesting one this budget year. Some reorganizing in the shift structure and in the divisions to support operations has occurred to define the two positions for the administrators. Chief Lenaghan commented Mr. Kriewall recommended one position for this year.
Chief Lenaghan stated the increases in permanent salaries are for three Fire Protection Officers. The department has 70 Paid On Call positions. Which service four fire stations, four engines, four rescues and a tanker weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a few more people added after 4:00 p.m. there is a Captain and a Lieutenant on that shift. The objective is to have 2 people in each vehicle. Chief Lenaghan commented there are many factors that impact the numbers.
Chief Lenaghan explained there have been changes in law standards. A Firefighter can not enter a building until another crew member arrives on the scene. Chief Lenaghan commented he does not believe this will solve all of the problems. He recommended at least two people on the first line of vehicles. During the day there is no backup. There are three auxiliary people.
Temporaries salaries are for one person and the amount is about the same as last year.
Chief Lenaghan said the Paid On Call wages has changed with a hourly rate adjustment. A couple of recommendations were made based on the comparisons made last year. The recommendation was that the level 3 be raised up by fifty cents and level 4 by one dollar an hour. Other areas were surveyed and Novi was found to be about one dollar below the average. The average is $14.99 an hour. The City competes with Wixom, Commerce Township, Northville, Northville Township, Farmington and Farmington Hills. Chief Lenaghan commented the department is looking to maintain the staffing level. The department would like to increase the hourly pay as the firefighter’s skill level increases.
Chief Lenaghan mentioned the auxiliary wage is $12.00 an hour. The On Call personnel are paid more and have less training. The department would like to recruit more auxiliary personnel because the department has been able to maintain the number of workers is through the auxiliary program the union has agreed to work with the program. The full and part-time people work together in a station. Even if five people are put into a station it does not cover vacation or sick time. This time is covered by auxiliary. He is not asking for full time persons to cover sick and vacations days but plans to be supported by an auxiliary program.
Chief Lenaghan mentioned if the Paid On Call personnel get an adjustment, he believes the auxiliary should get the same. The auxiliary persons are required to have all the training complete when hired. He recommends that Council review the paid on-call and auxiliary personnel wages.
ProTem Crawford asked if the requests were reflected in the budget? Mr. Kriewall answered no. They would be presented within the total package. ProTem Crawford wanted clarification on the 15 Fire Protection Officers? Chief Lenaghan said there are 15 now and the only change is for a Deputy Chief.
Member Lorenzo said she fully supports the hire of Fire Protection Officers. She commented that there is more money under Conferences and Workshops than what Chief Lenaghan has asked for. She said these are valuable. She believes this needs to be put into perspective. Member Lorenzo wanted to know what the competitive rates are for Paid On Call and auxiliary? Mr. Kriewall said this would all be discussed and presented with the entire wage package.
Member Lorenzo mentioned the request for driveway repair for fire station #2. Chief Lenaghan said he understood this would be included in the road program. The driveway is the original driveway from 1972 and is greatly need of repair. Member Lorenzo said if this could not be competed under the road project then it has to be done under the Fire Department budget.
Member Lorenzo asked about the masks? Chief Lenaghan explained these are high capacity tanks that are supposed to last longer. They are supposed to give a firefighter 30 minutes in a hazardous environment. Member Lorenzo asked if this is budgeted for next year? Chief Lenaghan said the department needs a compressor to handle the tanks. The current compressor is from a 1980 grant. New fire station #1 will have a compressor to handle the increased pressure required.
Member Lorenzo asked if the department has any defibrillators? Chief Lenaghan answered Providence Hospital donated five to the Fire Department. There is one at each station and one on the truck at station #1 for night service.
Member Kramer asked for a summary on the officers the Chief is requesting. Chief Lenaghan said the objective is for 3 additional, so there is staffing of 5 at fire station #2. Member Kramer asked how many are needed for two people per truck per station? Chief Lenaghan said they use 5. Each person works four 12-hour shifts. Member Kramer said the department needs three additional for that station? Chief Lenaghan said yes because that would give the station five people. Member Kramer asked how many people are at station #1? Chief Lenaghan answered currently six. Member Kramer asked the Chief if he wants them all at station #2? Chief Lenaghan answered yes.
Member Kramer asked Mr. Kriewall why he felt it was not necessary this year? Mr. Kriewall commented he believed they are running well and believes the existing manpower is sufficient. Member Kramer asked if there is a compromise between zero and three? Chief Lenaghan said his recommendation was based on the five people staffing. This would give two people for the two trucks. Member Kramer said five is more than two per truck? Chief Lenaghan said because they work a four-day workweek. He said there is always one person off.
Member Schmid commented the city started out with a volunteer Fire department. Many communities the size of Novi run with paid on-call and part-time staff. There are 15 firefighters and several officers. He is not against fire departments but is for a reasonable tax base within the city. He believes the city can maintain a paid on-call; part-time with the full time help Fire Department.
Member Schmid supports the Deputy Chief position. The Novi Fire Department is one of the best in the tri-county area and it is his opinion that there is no reason that the department cannot function with that type of department. He asked what the typical schedule is for a member of the 15 full time fire fighters? Chief Lenaghan explained they come in at 6:00 a.m. and leave at 6:00 p.m. Member Schmid inquired if they ever sleep over? Chief Lenaghan answered no. Member Schmid asked none at all? Chief Lenaghan explained there are two paid on-call at station #1 and the rest of the stations nothing. Member Schmid said there are two people that sleep over? Chief Lenaghan said yes but that money comes out of the paid on-call budget.
Chief Lenaghan mentioned there are 4 different staffing programs utilized to maintain costs. They are paid on-call, auxiliary, full time and sleep-in program. Member Schmid suggested paid on-call be eliminated. He said he is concerned about the tax dollars for the city. He commented the Chief has done an excellent job over the years. However, he believes if the permanent staff is increased it will keep costing the city a tremendous amount of money.
Mr. Kriewall commented Novi does have the finest Fire Department within the State of Michigan. It is a decision for the Council when to add full time staff. Mayor McLallen made the statement that there has not been new full time staff added for five years. Mr. Kriewall answered no. Member Schmid said that is not true. Chief Lenaghan said the last hiring was three years ago for three positions. Mayor McLallen wants the record to be cleared that there have not been consistent additions to the Fire Department every year.
Member Mutch commented one of the reasons this type of request happens is because there are not enough people in the community during a normal work day who are available to respond. That while fire protection has gotten better with codes and other similar issues, it would seem more response would go for medical than for fire control. If someone calls for help, she wants someone available to responded. She wants to have enough people to maintain the station and to respond.
Member Mutch questioned the three fire protection officers requested. Sometimes one might make some difference but does not make enough of a difference. The route should be to hire two or three because if it takes two to take the truck out, then there would be a need for two. She is wondering, if the Chief were given the opportunity again, three, one or any combination, what could make a difference? If one new hire does not make much of a difference, then do not take on the burden of one.
Chief Lenaghan commented Fire Protection officers do not perform the traditional duties as other communities. The city used to have a Fire Marshal and a Fire Inspector. These two positions were full-time positions. The Fire Inspector position was terminated and the full-time employees perform the Code enforcement. All the Code enforcement is done by the day shift. They also do annual inspections such as exit lights and alarm testing. Adjustments have been made and the system is called fire protection.
Chief Lenaghan mentioned the staff spends a lot of time on public education and training. He explained Paid On Call personnel will attend birthday parties. They do not do code enforcement. The department is marketing themselves to make the community aware of their presence.
Chief Lenaghan commented the Fire Department started with Paid On Call staff. The first change came when a response time of 48 minutes was published in the newspaper. No one was available, fortunately no one was injured in the car fire. This incident initiated the first hiring. The first people hired were staff personnel to train and take over fire prevention and to support the Paid On Call program. They did not follow the traditional objective in hiring with the 40 hour a week.
Member Mutch mentioned the City Manager has removed the request for three staff. She asked if people were to added back, would it make a difference to add just one or would the department really need the two or three? Chief Lenaghan said he recommended three so that the station could be staffed Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with two people on each of the two vehicles.
Mayor ProTem Crawford mentioned the community and laws have changed. It is no longer a community where people leave their jobs and go fight a fire. A full time Fire Department is costly and probably not the best place to put tax dollars. The Fire Department has made a gallant effort to recruit people. Novi is not the kind of community to get the number of volunteers needed. Therefore, the department has to be supplemented with other programs. The department has done an excellent job. If they need a few more people the Council should look at the possibility. It is particularly important to have people from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. when the paid on-call people are not in or near the community. He asked if two would do any good? If the department is given one will that work? Chief Lenaghan answered he will take what ever the Council approves. He would put three at the station but it would not be enough to put the other truck on the road. Chief Lenaghan said he is not asking for 24-hour staffing.
Chief Lenaghan noted the city does not buy equipment like other cites. An engine is kept in rescue at each station. Mayor ProTem Crawford said more justification might be needed to make the final decision for Council.
Mayor McLallen said she supports the three new members for the department. The rational being that there are two elementary schools with 1,600 children near the station. It is worth the $86,000 investment. One of the major functions of the City is public safety. Daytime fire staff is stretched thin so trucks can not get out. Between the elementary schools and the mobile park, which has been struck by tornadoes, there is not an emergency response team in the location. She believes it is worth the cost to keep the safety of the citizens.
Member Schmid disagreed with Mayor McLallen’s statement referring to fire trucks not being able to get out. There has never been a situation in the city where a fire truck has not gotten to the site. If the department was not efficient as most fire departments, he would not be talking about it. Novi has over 100 fire fighters working in some capacity. It is an unfair statement to suggest the city is not able to get to emergencies on time. He believes Chief Lenaghan would have been relentless if he thought the department could not get to emergencies and fires. He believes in a part-time department and that the number of full time fire fighters be limited.
Break from 9:25 p.m. until 9:36 p.m.
Ms. Kerreen Conley commented this is the first time that the Planning and Building Departments have been presented together. She has spent the last eight months reviewing the operations of the Planning and Building Departments. They have been working to improve the processes and to improve the approach of customer service.
Ms. Conley said a survey was sent out to groups that have developed in Novi over the last five years to get input on the planning/building process, from consultants to the inspectors, to better identify areas that need to be focused on in the upcoming years.
Ms. Conley stated the new Site Plan Manual is completed and will be coming before the Council on May 3, 1999. It is packaged to be consumer friendly to improve the procedures it takes to get through the planning process. Ms. Conley said it would reduce the process from 6 months to about 4 months.
Ms. Conley commented she is asking for a second phase in the 1999-2000 budget. The request will be a printing and publishing item for the Building Department. This is for a second process manual which would include planning through construction. A gap was found to be missing within certain formats and believes this will rectify the problem. The manual would be distributed during at the beginning of the site plan process.
Ms. Conley said the Master Plan has been completed. Some areas that would normally have been reviewed were lost and will be done next year, like the land use component of the Master Plan.The natural features will be done because the department is trying to get on-line with the GIS. This will link the Planning and Building Departments. Some research has to be done to determine what the needs will be for the total connection. It is important that the data is inputted into the system and is retrievable.
Ms. Conley mentioned there have been some great successes with the OST rezoning. She said the Building Department has been busy with construction, workshops and upgrading the Department computer system. They are not requesting any new staff for the 1999-2000 budget. There might be some staff changes or reorganizing of positions to better meet the needs of the department.
Ms. Eda Weddington, Planning Commission Chair, said the proposed budget is $58,605. The bulk of the money is for a number of special studies. She addressed three of these areas, basic administrative expenses for periodicals, membership dues, publications and communications. They are the same as past years. One item they are asking for is an increase in with the conferences and workshops. There has been a reduction the last couple of years, however, last year they depleted the budget in this category. The commissioners have asked that this item be increased so more might be able to attend conferences locally and nationally. Ms. Weddington requested the amount to be increased to $8,000.
Ms. Weddington said an item that is changing is communications. Some of this money is being budgeted for materials that are distributed to developers and are often moneymakers because of a fee charge.
Ms. Weddington said the special studies vary by year depending where they are in the Master Plan process. The plan will be coming before Council in May 1999. This year there were large expenses, however, these expenses will not be repeated in the next budget year because of publication costs.
Ms. Weddington commented the large item is the natural features element of the Master Plan that categorized and tied various natural features in a unique and different form. The Master Plan pulls this information together. She also mentioned the possible development of bike paths with the cost of $4,735.
Ms. Weddington said the last item is the wetlands, which is a late addition to the budget. This has been put on the table to force the question who should pay for the evaluation of wetlands less than 2 acres which are not connected to a larger body of water. The cost for this evaluation is about $25,000.
Member Kramer commented the Planning Commission has had a very good year. He encourages and supports their attendance for conferences and workshops.
Member Kramer said the essentiality test is tied in with the Wetlands Ordinance Review. The last decision there was an indication that probably a determination that the City is responsible. Is there an operating clause to support the determination of that for site plan bases? It is not positive what this will be through the years? Ms. Weddington said JCK gave their best estimate of the cost. Member Kramer said as far as effective, will it be up to the Planning Commission, Planning Development or Developmental Services with Ms. Conley. Member Kramer mentioned the budget seems reasonable beyond the comments mentioned.
Member Lorenzo commented generally speaking she supports the essentiality analysis. She commented she believes there are issues that still need to be addressed. One of the issues is where this belongs. It would be the Planning Commission, Planning & Community Development or Engineering Services under consultant services.
Member Lorenzo referred to a memo generated by the Ordinance Review Committee, dated 3/15/99, which states an estimate. There are elements of this estimate that are not the responsibility of the City. The State Legislature did give the responsibility to the City to collect data, internalize the date and report the data. That is all. Additionally, if any meetings the engineers have with developers should come from developer finances at their expense. Collecting and analyzing the data and reporting the data is meeting the responsibility of the City. Member Lorenzo said she will support some money but is not able to determine how much that might be at this time.
Member Lorenzo said her other concern is if the City is going to pay a consultant $25,000 to perform these tests, then the City needs to come to the conclusion that the City will trust the consultants judgement on these situations. If this is going to be paid out of the City’s fund then the City has to abide by the information presented. She mentioned that the State Legislature, in the analysis contained in the General Attorney’s opinion for burden of proof, is a municipal responsibility within the context. The State analysis also assumes that municipalities would have to hire environmental experts in order to make these determinations. These determinations were not meant to be made by lay persons. If the money is spent, the City will have to rely on the expert opinion and it still needs to be determined what department is going to be responsible. The City should be responsible only for the issues mandated by the State.
Member Lorenzo asked who is responsible for the natural features? Ms. Weddington said Mr. Arroyo and Ms. Lemke. Member Lorenzo asked if there is a summary of the items? She said she would appreciate a copy.
Member Lorenzo asked if the residential development option update is going to be done in house? She would like more information pertaining to the issue. Mr. Arroyo said this item came out of the discussion on the Master Plan update. There are several options available and it was thought this was a perfect opportunity to look at those options. It would be a total re-evaluation of these options. They want to be as creative as possible so that these options will be used more often away from the conventional development. There are unique developments that would benefit from the various options of the traditional development practices.
Mayor ProTem Crawford commented on the studies and when money is asked for, how are the studies going to be used in the future? How is the information gathered being used for situations brought up a year or more later? He would not be reluctant to approve a new study if he knew it was going to be used more than once. He wants to be convinced that these studies will be used more frequently. Ms. Lemke mentioned some of these are building blocks of the Master Plan for basic information. She mentioned the wildlife habitat is used more regularly. Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if a decision was ever made on a site plan where it was denied because of a special habitat? Ms. Lemke said the plan is referenced.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked what are the natural features? Ms. Lemke said it involves soil, wetlands, rivers. geography, habitats, ground water resources, watershed and contamination sites. Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if this information was available in other forms? Ms. Lemke said there is Wetlands and Woodlands map. Mr. Arroyo said that the Master Plan historically has not addressed natural feature element. It enables a person to pull together resources from a variety of sources, and pull it together to one document to be a resource and provide an analysis of the natural features. These are building blocks for the first step of developing a new Master Plan.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if the natural features would be included in the new Master Plan? Mr. Arroyo answered the upcoming plan is basically finished and is going to public hearing. Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if it would be out of date five years from now? Mr. Arroyo said it would not be significantly out of date because there are elements that do not change.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if there is an ordinance in place that enforce some of the findings from these studies. Mr. Arroyo answered absolutely. When natural resources are identified. Also ordinances impact development with flood plains. There are other State and Federal laws that impact how to deal with contaminated sites. There might be a need for refinement to the ordinances. One of the things they tried to do with the Master Plan is implement the plan to make it reality.
Member Schmid said as a follow up to these special studies, do they not have every bit
of information needed on natural resources? The woodlands and wetlands are the two
main natural features in Novi. There has also been a habitat and wildlife study. There
have been numerous studies and is it a matter of bringing all this information together?
Mr. Arroyo said one of the things that Ms. Lemke is proposing to do is document the
loss of woodlands that have occurred over the last 13 years and see what impact
development has had on the woodlands in a map form. Member Schmid asked how it is
going to be documented when trees have been cut that no one knew about? Ms. Lemke
said this is based on the two maps. An update has just been done on the woodlands
map and no more trees will be cut. By overlaying the old and new maps, the changes
will be shown. Mr. Arroyo commented that this information would be combined on one
map to see how these features relate to one another.
Member Schmid asked how are the City of Novi’s goals are going to be defined. Mr. Arroyo said that was done this year by the Planning Commission along with the Master Plan and their Goals and Objectives. Member Schmid said these are the Planning Commission goals. Ms. Weddington commented ordinances that are on the book have statements of intent. Council adopted these ordinances.
Mr. Arroyo said what is unique about the goals and objectives that the Planning Commission developed this year that makes them different from past years, is two things: l) Planning Commission used the results of the 20/20 vision process that went on within the City about a year or so ago and 2) The community attitude survey. Member Schmid asked if the survey is a good indicator of what the citizen’s of Novi want? Mr. Arroyo said yes.
Member Schmid asked about the goals of the preservation option with no space requirement for subdivision open space. He said the open space concept was talked about in the late 70’s. He is afraid of jeopardizing large lot subdivisions. Mr. Arroyo said the open space concept might still have some validity.
Member Schmid mentioned the wetland essentiality test is still in the process of passing as an ordinance. He is not in favor of putting this in until the City understands what they are going to do with the ordinance. He commented it involves less than two acres. Until there is a clear understanding of the checking process to determine the areas, he wonders why the money is put in the budget. He believes the City does not know what they are looking at? Mr. Churella said he agrees.
Mr. Churella explained an interpretation comes from the developer. The developer has an expert come in to identify the wetlands. Then an interpretation comes from the Planning Consultant. He believes the developer would be willing to pay a fee to get a third opinion from an independent person. He said they would have a list that the City could draw from to get the project moving forward. Member Schmid asked if Mr. Churella was talking about three opinions? Mr. Churella said yes, but they are not necessarily needed. He believes the developer would pay for the consultant so it would not have to come out of the City budget.
Member Mutch thanked Ms. Weddington on behalf of the Historical District Study Committe because one of the recommendations from that committee to the Planning Commission and the Council is to incorporate a comprehensive plan for preservations on historic buildings and sites as part of the Master Plan. There is a 60 day period once the report is submitted to the Planning Commission and Council. There can not be a public hearing in less than 60 days. The report is still in the process of coming forward, therefore, it cannot be included at this time.
Mayor McLallen thanked the Planning Commission.
Planning and Community Development
Ms. Conley stated overall the Planning and Community Development budget request has been reduced by 3%. The data processing for Y2K amount requested is $8,850. There is a special study involving the Grand River DDA implementation. The amount requested is $15,070. If the Council desires a DDA there would be some funds to support that decision. They are not asking for this to be done by a consultant for some assistance. Most of the plan could be done in-house. The remaining money in that budget is for implementing a plan. If the DDA is not moving forward, then it is believed the Grand River Corridor will need more monies.
Ms. Conley continued by saying that special studies encompasses many area where studies have been done, for example the parking study for Main Street.
Ms. Conley explained the communication and mapping was moved from the Planning Commission Budget. It made more sense that it be moved because the maps are accessed in the Planning Development Department.
Ms. Conley commented the building improvement is to restructure the reception area to better serve the public.
The office equipment includes a printer, filing cabinets, along with cabinets for the data processing and GIS.
Ms. Conley mentioned the land use information database, which are the GIS component is needed to evaluate Planning and Building. This is to determine what is needed to accommodate the land use information from the Planning Department perspective.
Member Mutch asked if the economic development budget, which is currently at $4,000, is expected to come close to $20,000? Ms. Conley said it is going to come close to $20,000. There are some brochures in progress and payments have not been made in that area. These initial studies will be completed and the amount will be less next year.
Member Mutch asked if the $12,000 listes covers travel? Ms. Conley said it includes two workshops, real estate and economic development professional training which amounts to $3,300.
Member Mutch commented that no request has been made for new staff but changes may be made in the Building Department. She asked Ms. Conley if all the salaries will balance out? Ms. Conley answered yes.
Member Schmid commented on the engineering consultants. Ms. Conley said it has been budgeted for $10,000, like the previous year. It was an unexpected item because ithey are not a part of the development team but still necessary. About $3,000 is coming out of Mr. Nowicki’s budget for grant applications.
Mr. Jim Wahl explained there is a retainer with JCK. He said if the City asks any one of the professionals to perform a task beyond going to a specific committee, there is money available. Instead of decreasing the retainer, the committee decided to put a certain amount of money in the department budget and evaluate.
Mr. Wahl commented that the last 3 or 4 years some of the functions of the Planning Commission have shifted over to the department’s budget which reflects the increase in the budget.
Member Schmid commented on the $15,000 for the DDA. What is the money going to be spent on? Mr. Wahl said a requirement is to do a development plan as part of the DDA package. This is a consultant’s assistant. There has to be design and technical information. Much of the data needed for this type of plan, the staff can perform. When it gets down to details for a plan, the consultant would have to help with the traffic proposal, road and parking plans.
Member Schmid wanted clarification on the $15,000 for conference and workshops. Mr. Wahl explained it includes the professional staff and director. Member Schmid asked if they anticipate spending the $12,000 this year. Ms. Conley said they would not reach the $12,000. Member Schmid said he is alarmed at the amount of money being spent.
Mayor ProTem Crawford questioned the $13,000 for land use database. He compared this figure to the Planning Commission land use update for $12,000. He wanted clarification between the two. Mr. Wahl explained the land use update is used by the Planning Commission and is effective as part of the Master Plan. He said this is the actual planned document for reference. Ms. Conley said it is poor to title it a land use information system. She said this is the research that needs to be used to integrate the GIS component. Mr. Arroyo said this is a way to keep track of existing land use and how it is changing with the GIS system.
Member Kramer mentioned the engineering consultants support for a grant writer. He wanted to comment that this year’s budget has a grant writer in the Finance Department budget. Mr. Les Gibson said it is under General Administration budget. This person would work for Mr. Kriewall.
Member Kramer said since there is going to be a grant writer, can the budget be reduced by $5,000? Mr. Kriewall said there still needs to be some engineering support for grant writing but the amount may be decreased.
Ms. Conley commented the budget has decreased by about 2%. The department is not asking for any personnel changes as far as cost is concerned. The operating supplies have increased primarily due to an updating of the Building and the Model Energy Code. The department has asked for an increase in the uniforms. This is to fund jackets for the inspectors so they are better identified in the field.
Ms. Conley said data processing is associated with the GIS support. The Membership and dues has increased for Board members and Master License renewal.
Ms. Conley mentioned printing and publishing has taken the largest jump. This is for the second component of the Planning and Construction manual. The cost for this is $11,000. It is anticipated that it will be similar to the Site Plan manual It will contain flow charts, step-by-step components of applications and permits. Everything will be in one package distributed early in the process so that people can get them earlier to bridge the two departments.
Ms. Conley stated under the vehicle item is on a 5 year replacement. She commented there are two being replaced that is both five years old. The data processing is for upgrades on the printer.
Member Kramer said in the meeting with ZBA, they requested that documents be archived and cross-reference. Has this been taken into consideration and if so where? Ms. Conley stated they have been imaging for the past five months. A part time person is inputting the documents.
Mr. Don Saven commented what the ZBA was alluding to is being able to look at the variances and how approvals were granted. Ms. Conley said it is more of a database issue. Mr. Saven said the Board is dealing with 700 cases and the time factor involved is undetermined.
Mr. Saven stated the new upgrade of the Sierra system would take care of this in the future. As variances are granted, they can be put into the computer. Member Kramer asked if there is an item in the budget for upgrading the system? Mr. Saven said yes. Ms. Conley said data processing upgrades and the GIS component is the next phase of the Sierra and the GIS integration. Member Kramer asked if $16,000 would get the department started on the ZBA documentation? Ms. Conley said an upgrade has happened in the last couple of weeks. Member Kramer said he asking to table an item to support the ZBA or indicate within the department there is the ability for support. Mr. Saven commented there would be the ability available but not sure of the cost.
Member Kramer asked if there are enough building inspectors? Mr. Saven said absolutely not. Mr. Saven commented it is a delicate situation because the department does not want to lay of people. He said if people were needed, he would inform Council.
Member Schmid wanted clarification on the $20,000 under printing? Ms. Conley explained it is for the second manual on planning through construction.
Member Mutch questioned on how data processing and capital outlay differs from what Member Kramer comments? Ms. Conley said it is for upgrades and printers.
Ms. Conley commented there is a slight increase in memberships and dues. That is because of the Erosion Control Association.
Ms. Conley stated printing and publishing has increased due to more of a commitment to customer service. The ordinance officer leaves a ‘door hanger’ to alert the homeowner of the visit and a brochure or packet of information that identifies some of the most common ordinances which are inquired about by homeowners.
Member Kramer suggested this be put on the City website. Ms. Conley said that would be done.
Member Mutch asked if commercial vehicles are allowed to park overnight on residential streets? Mr. Saven said probably.
Member Schmid suggested that additional people be hired for the north end of Novi.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if the City needs additional Ordinance Officers? He would like to see officers working on the weekends. Mr. Saven said his personal goal is to a see an anti-blight ordinance. He already has an Ordinance Officer that is trained and ready to proceed. The hold up is with the ordinance. Mr. Kriewall mentioned the situation needs to be monitored for a year to see what is really happening. Ms. Uglow might be trained for something that might be more engineering related than Building Department. At some point, a separate ordinance for this position might be necessary. His recommendation is to watch the matter for another year.
Mayor ProTem Crawford wanted clarification that Mr. Kriewall is suggesting that an ordinance concentrate on environmental and soil erosion. Would this free up an officer to concentrate on times later in the evening?
Member Kramer said Novi is a very sensitive community. Most complaints fall in the ordinance area. He asked Ms. Conley to determine if the community needs are being adequately met and if not, bring them before Council. Mr. Kriewall mentioned a problem has been dealing with personalities; sometimes it is very difficult.
2. DDA Discussion and Resolution
Member Kramer commented on the resolution on the proposed DDA. The foundation seems to be improving a County road that is important in Novi. It is important that Novi receive support from the County. If a few adjustments where addressed he would support the action. If the statement pertaining to the 1999 assessments, property values, and some additional changes in the body of the document were made, he would considering rescinding and would support the resolution.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked for clarification from Member Kramer as to what he would like changed? Member Kramer said it is information that he believes is already stated and does not need to be included. Mayor ProTem Crawford said he would support the resolution if this statement were in or not. Mr. Kriewall said it could stay included.
Member Mutch commented the information came from the assessor. Ms. Conley said all the data was pulled and available. Member Kramer said it does not strengthen anything by using this factor. Mayor ProTem Crawford asked for clarification on the changes proposed.
CM-99-04-091: Moved by Kramer, Seconded by Crawford, CARRIED: To adopt DDA Resolution-B, with changes and then forward to the County.
Vote on 99-04-091: Yeas: McLallen, Crawford, Kramer
Nays: Lorenzo, Mutch, Schmid
There being no further business before the City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 10:55 p.m.
Kathleen S. McLallen Tonni L. Bartholomew
Mayor City Clerk
Transcribed by: Melissa H. Place
Date Approved: May 24, 1999