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SPECIAL MEETING OF
THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo*, Nagy, and Paul – absent/excused
ALSO PRESENT: Rick Helwig – City Manager
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Clay Pearson – Assistant City Manager
Kathy Smith-Roy – Finance Director
Art Lenaghan – Fire Chief
Doug Shaeffer – Police Chief
Nancy McClain – City Engineer
Benny McCusker – Director of Public Works
David Wenner, president of the Westmont Village Homeowner’s Association, thanked the City for the first 850 feet of repaved roads in their subdivision last fall. That repaving has added tremendous value to the residents in the front of the subdivision, and the children of those individuals who can now ride their bikes in the street. The subdivisions roads are an issue that administration and Council have heard about for years. He did not want to lay blame, as he was not sure where the blame fell. The City had an engineering firm that, at the time Westmont Village was being built in the late 1990’s, allowed the developer to install the roads the way the City required them to be put in. Unfortunately, that engineering firm did not report to the City that Westmont Village and the subdivisions on all sides of it are sitting on a clay base. When it rains, the water sits on the clay and does not move anywhere. Laying a road on this clay means that the water will continue to sit on the clay and cause problems with the road because of the freeze/thaw in Michigan. Last year in the fall, there was a serious motorcycle accident on Jaslyn, a street in the Westmont Village subdivision. He felt that accident was directly related to the motorcycle hitting a rut in the road that was so wide, it engulfed the entire wheel and caused the individual to crash his motorcycle. The next day, the City was out to patch those ruts, and some of the rest of the ruts in the remainder of the subdivision. That patch is now gone and only last for 5 months. He questioned whether the City had the money to come out every time it is needed and re-patch the subdivision’s roads, just as with the City’s other subdivisions that are in as bad of shape as Westmont Village. The past fall, the City’s engineer met with a group of concerned citizens from the Westmont Village at the police station. Ms. McClain informed the residents that the roads would be taken care of in Westmont Village; the roads have not yet been fixed. The engineer had informed the residents that the drainage issues would be resolved this spring, but he has not heard anything on the subject since from the City engineer, nor has he seen anyone working in the subdivision. He requested that the City live by the words of its engineer and fix the drainage problems; the drainage problems cannot be fixed without fixing the roads. He also asked that the City look at the PASER rating that was put on the streets in Westmont Village, and wished to see this redone. Two roads in the subdivision, Jaslyn and Latham, are noticeably different from last fall to this spring. Residents in Westmont Village are concerned for their children and where they ride their bikes. Though the subdivision was provided with sidewalks, these are not exactly safe either, as these are made of the same concrete sitting on top of the same clay. When the water does not drain, it sits on top of the sidewalk. Several sections of sidewalk are actually black from the moss growing on top of them. Unfortunately, the kids cannot ride their bikes on the subdivision’s roads because those are not safe either. He asked that Novi look at the drainage in Westmont Village and do something about it, as the City engineer had promised that this would be fixed. The City should redo the PASER ratings and look at where the subdivision’s roads fall and then send someone out to fix the current road problems, the craters in the middle of the subdivision.
Steve Blazo, vice-president of the Westmont Village Homeowner’s Association, asked the City Council to give permission to the City Manager to work with Westmont Village residents to collaborate on a solution to a problem that has arisen. In the summer of 1998, Council gave preliminary tentative plat approval to the developer on two items. One is a conservation easement; the other was the voluntary commitment to donate the remaining 29 acres to either the City or a conservation agency in Oakland County. On August 8th of 1998, the easement was agreed to. The donation of the undeveloped property has never occurred, but the developer/owner of the land has decided not to pay his taxes. As of April 1st, that 29 acres has gone into foreclosure. The issue behind this is that going through the foreclosure process opens the easement to possible termination or modification, which releases the protection of the green space. The City, in writing the easement, had language inserted that stated that upon agreement of the parties it could be terminated or modified. Now that the foreclosure process will start, there is a possibility that another developer or interested party would be the second party to the land and agreement, and thus could move forward with the termination of the easement. This would remove any and all protection of the green space that was initially afforded to the City, as well as the Westmont Village residents. He asked for Council’s support to give permission to a variety of City managers to work with the citizens of Westmont Village to collaborate on a solution. Residents have some ideas that they would like to bring forth to administration, consolidate those ideas into solutions, and bring them forward to Council. To do this, he asked that Council perhaps take this issue up under Mayor and Council Issues for Monday, April 5th’s meeting.
Mayor Csordas noted that if the previous matter was placed on the Monday meeting’s agenda under Mayor and Council Issues, there would be no discussion of it that evening, but it could be placed on a future agenda. He suggested that the item be placed under Matters for Council Action for the Monday, April 5th meeting.
Sue Flanagan thanked everyone on the City Council for serving the community. The $20 per meeting that the Mayor receives, and the $15 per meeting that City Council members receive, is ridiculous. As Novi residents want them to put in time and energy into preparing for Council meetings, members are not properly compensated for their preparation time. She urged Council to think about giving itself a raise. She said that there is a potentially dangerous, if not fatal, situation occurring every school morning in front of Novi High School on Ten Mile Road. There is a large amount of commuter traffic trying to get to work, a number of new teen drivers trying to get to school on time, and a high volume of parents dropping off their children. There needs to be someone directing traffic for about 20 minutes, from about 6:50 to 7:10 a.m. every morning on Ten Mile. She urged Council to address this issue before a tragedy occurs. Ms. Flanagan commented that, similar to the Westmont Village issue, there are unacceptable roads and driveways being installed by new developers of buildings going up in Novi. The developers are meeting a minimum requirement, and the work does not stand up to a few years’ time. Driveways need to be replaced at homeowners’ cost, and roads need to be repaved. She urged Council to perhaps raise the installation standards or somehow deal with the issue because it affects all residents and is ongoing. She urged Council to continue the fight to not widen Beck Road. Northville has widened Beck Road, and Plymouth has widened the road. If Novi widens Beck to 4 lanes all the way to M-14, Beck Road will be like Telegraph Road in the west side of the City. The rural feel of the community will be lost if the road is widened.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING – 2004-2005 CITY OF NOVI BUDGET
1. Overview/City Manager Highlights:
Mr. Helwig began by thanking a number of individuals for their work in preparing for this budget meeting. He thanked the Mayor and Council for spending the time to look both short term and long term in the best interests of this community, those who have reviewed and contributed to the capital improvement plan deliberations, and members of the Finance Department including Kathy Smith-Roy and Stephanie Sharp.
Mr. Helwig said that in building a proposed budget, administration first looks at the environment in which the City is functioning. Michigan has a very serious financial backdrop to any municipality or entity that is trying to look both short term and long term and provide reliable, dependable, high-quality service to the constituents depending on governments to do so. In the last 3 fiscal years, the State of Michigan has reduced the City’s second-highest revenue source, State-shared revenue, by 14.6%. This is nearly $560,000 annually. Many communities are not filling public safety positions, or are laying off public safety personnel, in addition to doing other things to try to make ends meet. Novi is fortunate in the near term because the City is not built out and is still growing, still has investment occurring in the community, and the tax base is expanding. Even though the City’s property tax rate, not the schools’ or other taxing jurisdictions’, is very low, about the 5th or 6th lowest in Oakland County, Novi can still absorb that hit because it is growing. This will not always be the case. As the City approaches build-out its revenues will flatten, as is happening to nearby Livonia, which is not filling 9 public safety positions. Part of this message was to again alert Council to look at not only the fiscal year ahead, but also the long term future. The fiscal analysis that is to be completed this summer as part of the master plan update and the growth management development plan will hopefully be illuminating as to what type of development provide "the most bang for the buck," and what are the issues that the City might have to support or fund in the future in some unforeseen way.
Mr. Helwig commented that Book 2 of the proposed budget contained all of the line item detail, the budget detail, which administration has tightened to the extent it feels it possibly can. It also includes all of the service improvement submissions from the various departments. In all of those pages, administration was able to recommend to Council again funding a mosquito abatement program, which is in this year’s budget, and 2 additional supervisors in the police and fire departments, but in those cases only for 6 months. Of all of the service improvement submissions, those are the 3 areas that administration is able to recommend support of because conditions are so tight. Administration is not able to support any of the capital outlay programs. For example, last year was the skid steer to help relieve citizen drainage complaints and so forth that came out of this category. Administration is not able to recommend any of the capital outlay submissions because the financial situation is so tight. There is only 1 item from the capital improvements submissions from City department directors that administration can recommend - the $350,000 fire engine - because of the dedicated millage. Administration would like the community to know what has been on the minds of department directors in terms of enhancing and strengthening services for the community. Unfortunately, those cannot be reached with this recommended budget. This year, as occurs once every 12 years, there will be 27 pay days, which creates a cost of approximately $600,000 from the general fund. While Sandstone funding is now behind the City except for development issues now, this is an extra item that, almost like had to be done with Sandstone, must be considered before building the budget.
a. Keeping the City Property tax millage rate the same
Mr. Helwig said that planned priorities evolved from Council’s goals and past policy discussions. Council has a stated goal to keep the City’s property tax rate millage the same. This proposed budget accomplishes that goal, as the rate remains at 10.5416 mills, as it has for the past few years. This is less than the average millage of 10.6 mills for the past 10 years in Novi.
Mayor Csordas asked for an explanation of why the millage rate decreased from 10.6 mills to 10.5416 mills.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was because of debt being retired, and the millage was reduced, not replaced with something else. Voters have approved, via the City charter, a remaining general fund millage, .3837. This is one reason that the bond rating was increased, that Kathy Smith-Roy keeps emphasizing that the City has this in reserve, and that it acts like another rainy day fund. If in fact Council had a need to tap the millage, it could do that. Each tenth of a mill is equal to approximately $286,000. Administration is not suggesting that this money be tapped right now.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if Council, by approval with at least 5 affirmative votes, could decide to increase the millage, but that the City Council would have to vote to do this.
Mr. Helwig replied that City Council could do this by a vote, to increase the 10.5416 millage rate.
Mayor Csordas asked why the full millage had not been implemented if it was approved.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that the full millage was never implemented. A full budget was prepared and services were determined at that time, so the full amount was never implemented. As debt was added, the general fund millage was actually reduced so that the total rate could remain within a reasonable amount. The changes in the debt millages are primarily what have caused the fluctuations. Other funds that the City has special millages for, including the municipal street fund, the police and fire fund, the library fund, and the parks and recreation fund, are special millages that are bumping against the Headley Truth in Taxation Computation max, and are actually being reduced each year. The general fund was never at the max, so it never received the same reduction.
Mayor Csordas asked if it was a conscious decision by some prior Council or administration not to implement the full millage.
Ms. Smith-Roy responded that this was correct. Typically, when a City implements a charter, it does not implement the full charter amount.
b. Continuing past practices regarding Rainy Day funds
Mr. Helwig said this proposed budget continues the past practice regarding rainy day funds. In this instance, as in the current year, administration proposes a 14% rainy day fund reserve. Each percent in that rainy day fund equals approximately $249,000.
Mayor Csordas commented that this meant the rainy day fund would total just under $3,000,000.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was correct. Just a few years ago, this fund was under 10%. City Council’s stated policy is to have between 8 and 12% dedicated to the rainy day fund, so the City has been exceeding this amount. The State of Michigan has drawn its rainy day fund down completely, and now has to repeatedly take steps that Novi seeks to avoid. It was very difficult when devising the proposed budget to keep the rainy day fund at the 14% level. Keeping the millage low and keeping the rainy day fund at a higher level than most other surrounding communities are positive constraints showing very conservative fiscal budgeting practices, which administration wants to uphold in its proposals.
c. Judgment Trust Fund
Mr. Helwig noted that the judgment trust fund was created in the spring of 2000, realizing that something would happen in the way of a Sandstone conclusion. He was pleased to say that the $100,000 recommended for this fund is the lowest amount recommended in the past 4 years. The City is slightly vulnerable with this recommendation because the deductible for any claim coming in is $100,000, which means that there could be one situation that would use the entire $100,000. Administration felt it needed to have some money in that fund with matters like the Paragon litigation and other issues.
Ms. Smith-Roy said it was anticipated that next year the City will have approximately $11,000 left over in the judgment trust fund from this year, so this $100,000 will bring that fund’s total to $111,000.
Mr. Helwig commented that this is a very tight, token amount, but administration wanted to keep it before Council as a priority. The Paragon case, for example, pre-dates Sandstone, and has been with the City for 18 or 19 years. That is the last major leftover case to get resolved.
d. Public Safety
Mr. Helwig noted that Council had set a goal to have long term staffing plans provided to it regarding the police and fire departments. Those were presented to Council earlier this year, and were also included in the budget document’s public safety category. Because that has been and continues to be Council’s number one program funding category, and because the City is behind in the staffing that is needed there, this is where administration has recommended the very small amount of flexible general fund spending in the budget document be dedicated. This would provide 6 months’ funding for 2 additional police sergeants, a fire lieutenant, and a fire captain. The plan also includes the replacement, required under contract, of 3 marked police cruisers.
e. Continuing basic service levels
Mr. Helwig commented that another positive constraint when composing the proposed budget is looking at what the City is doing, taking a fresh look at how wise some expenditures are, and how they are meeting Council’s goals and community expectations. Administration has continued the practice begun last year of limiting conferences, workshops, and travels to strictly those where there is a mandatory certification requirement that is being met. This practice has brought this category’s expenses down tremendously during the past 2 or 3 years.
f. Lessening the impact of growing Health Insurance Costs
Mr. Helwig recalled that the health insurance cost issue is one that Council spent 2 considerable evenings discussing and debating. Administration provided Council soon thereafter with what it was proposing for administrative personnel, which it would propose be extended as bargaining group contracts come up for renewal to those groups. For administrative personnel, effective July 1, the prescription drug co-payment would increase to $10/$20, $10 for generic drugs and $20 for name brand. Effective January 1, 2005, administration would implement that each administrative employee would commit 2.5% of the monthly cost towards a health insurance premium as a first step. Thirdly, for those employees that have family continuation coverage, primarily with 19-25 year old dependants in a school situation, this has been offered free until now. This coverage would become 50% City funded, 50% employee funded. Administration is prepared to implement those items as part of this budget document for administrative personnel. The City is currently in negotiations with the police officer’s association, and various elements of these proposals are in the negotiation stage there. Appendix C contains staff’s capital improvement construction recommendations. The green tab, the capital improvements program, includes what the Capital Improvements Committee, with representatives from this City Council, has recommended. Because of limited funds, not all of those recommendations can be funded in administration’s opinion. For 2004/2005 proposed, there are some differences between what administration is able to recommend and what is coming from the Capital Improvements Committee. One of the biggest differences is with Nine Mile Road: the City is able to fund the concrete portion, which is the more expensive replacement, from Novi Road to just west of Venture Drive. The asphalt portion is not able to be done, as it costs another $900,000. This recommendation is able to get the worst part of the road done, but is not able to fund everything.
Mayor Csordas summarized Mr. Helwig’s presentation: an additional $100,000 to the judgment trust fund; 3 police cruiser replacements at $87,550; 2 new police sergeants with an effective hiring date of 1/1/05 for one half of the year at $149,039; 1 new fire lieutenant and 1 new fire captain, also with the effective date of 1/1/05 for $104,292.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was correct, and that it represented the extent of the flexible general fund dollars spent.
Mayor Csordas commented that it is critical that Council hold the millage rate the same and hold expenses underneath the revenue.
2. Budget Program Categories: (categories to be discussed over the three scheduled budget meetings – Council discussion regarding the spending plan priorities)
a. Public Safety
Mr. Helwig commented that administration wrestled with how to make a dent in the staffing plans that were submitted to Council. He does not want to have too many administrative staff, and since he has been with the City, the number of administrative personnel has been streamlined. Both chiefs and their top staffs have produced compelling reasons for the proposal to add 2 sergeants, a fire lieutenant and a fire captain.
Mr. Helwig said the fire department is a combination department. Just this week, the City had a fire fatality. The incident commander was the City’s assistant fire chief, who did an outstanding job. This fire was basically a paid on-call response because of the time of night that it occurred, a weekday at approximately 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., is when the City’s full-time fire fighting personnel are in the station houses. Other than that time, the remaining 108 hours of each week, the evenings and the weekend, there is a sleepover program with 2 people at fire headquarters. These 2 people may or may not include a supervisor; often, there is not a paid on-call supervisor. It does not happen very often, but the fire chief has come to him stating that he could not guarantee that when there is an incident in the community, that a fire department supervisor would show up. In the incident this past week, there were 3 paid on-call supervisors plus the assistant chief given the nature of the incident, eventually including the chief.
Mr. Helwig commented that this is a vulnerability that must be brought forward to Council. Currently, the City has one full-time lieutenant and one full-time captain. By increasing that to two lieutenants and two captains full-time, the chief feels that the 108 hours can be covered in which the City would have a full-time supervisor in a station house available to provide improved service responses, mutual aid, and make decisions immediately once a call comes in. For that reason, administration is recommending the item. This would have to be negotiated with the union, as it would change the working hours of the existing fire lieutenant and fire captain. There is no guarantee, even if the item is authorized, that it will come to pass.
Mayor Csordas asked if Council were to authorize the addition of these two new supervisory positions, there is a possibility that they could just be two extra people during the day.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was a possibility. However, if it would not accomplish what administration is seeking to accomplish, the addition would not be implemented. The addition of the two fire staff would only be to cover the 108 hours, and the City is not looking to add supervisors during the day.
Chief Lenaghan said that in addressing the issue, administration had looked at the whole operation of the fire department. The direction in decision making has been maintaining a combination fire department of both full-time and part-time. With that in mind, the daytime staffing has been examined. Originally, the idea of having two assistant chiefs was considered. The second thing considered was the hours and some of the ramifications of opening the contract. The work week by law in Michigan is 53 hours. This would establish a 2 platoon system with a captain and lieutenant on each shift. However, the proposed concept seemed to be the most economical way of providing 24-hour supervision. This does not change the current combination department directive. Rather, it places a supervisor during nights and weekends to work with the public and make decisions that himself or the assistant chief are contacted at home for many times. The City has a 4-station fire operation. Some days the department has as many as 20 runs a day, and usually averages 10 per day. Many of these are not major decision-making problems, but should a major incident occur on a Sunday morning, what would happen must be considered. If they are available, either he or the assistant chief would take charge. Currently, the fire department has set up its stations with a captain and 2 lieutenants, the paid on-call people. Their function is to operate their stations, consisting of an engine and a rescue unit. Technically this would put the captain in charge of the station, and theoretically a lieutenant for each of the operating vehicles that comes out of the station. It changes the staff’s role if no one is there to act as incident manager, in which case that responsibility is put on the leader of the first unit that arrives. This could be an officer or a fire fighter. It is very important to have a designated commander at each incident to maintain control at the scene. Most incidents that occur in the City are 1-station responses, but there is nothing to say that there could be a larger incident, for example, at Twelve Oaks mall or the Expo Center. Such incidents have occurred along the railroad and along the expressway where 2 or 3 stations must respond. At the incident the past Thursday, 3 stations responded to that location. The response depends on what is occurring, the type of incident, and what procedure will be followed. It is much easier to have someone there to coordinate the effort.
Chief Lenaghan said the second consideration was dealing with the administrative operation of 4 stations with 90-some people. During the evening, things can occur and the fire department should have someone there to deal with the problem. The paid on-call people can deal with the situation, but this would provide someone to get in touch with. There have recently been complaints about overcrowding at some places of public assembly. The fire department will receive a call from the police department, and while he will normally go to the location and take care of the situation, if there was a command figure available they could go to the site and take care of the problem, including filing an incident report and a follow-up the next morning. Overall, the addition would provide continuity in the fire department’s command system. The problem is not that the paid on-call people are incapable; rather, the paid on-call people only work part-time for the fire department, they have other responsibilities, and administration would like to support that system as much as possible. Adding the additional 2 staff would be a way of doing that.
Member Nagy noted that while the City may have a population of 50,000, during the week when people are in town for business or other purposes, Novi has more than 50,000 people. One of her concerns is that new industries and developments are coming in, and she is concerned with the fire department’s response, so she will be supporting the item. She asked Chief Lenaghan if a lieutenant, for example, actually participates in fire fighting.
Chief Lenaghan replied that if the lieutenant has to, then they will participate. This depends on the situation. That person could be the senior officer at a scene, or there may be a more senior officer. The fire department usually works as a team; most functions are done by at least 2 people, sometimes 4 or 6 people. The fire department really needs someone to supervise a scene or provide direction to it. Fire fighters also go through the fire fighter officer training program, and are people that should be in a leadership role.
Member Nagy said that while she felt paid on-call fire fighters do a great job, they are still paid on-call. She asked if the department ever has trouble, for various reasons, getting someone to come in to respond to an incident.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this situation has happened. The fire department has a system on board, and the station operator is supposed to monitor who is going on vacation and such. About a month ago, the department brought in 2 paid on-call people to keep fire station #4 open during a day.
Member Nagy asked if general upkeep and regular maintenance are being accomplished with the current budget for the fire department.
Chief Lenaghan replied that the fire department has a lot of needed repair work that has been requested. Some of that work has been setup over a 3 year period based on funding. Station #1 is 25 years old, the apparatus room has never been painted, there is deterioration on doors, and has no locker rooms or shower facilities for female employees. Three of the four fire stations are not in compliance in this respect. The other stations originally operated as paid on-call stations, but now have 12-hour staffing, which they were not really designed for. In a long range plan, the first thing to consider may be repairing driveways. The driveway for station #1 is in very bad shape. The fire department has a lot of work to be done, largely with expensive repairs.
Member Nagy said she would like to have a long range goal of developing a plan for the fire department of what needs to be done at each station in order to get the needed repairs. The fire stations are not conducive to what the City is doing in 2004. The driveways alone are major needed repairs. The City needs to come up with a plan for the fire department. She assumes that Novi must have at least 100,000 people in it on a given day. Fire response is a basic service that the City must provide that if not provided and funded adequately could create serious consequences. She would like to see a long term plan not only for the funding of staff, but also for repairs. She asked if anyone working for the fire department can provide advanced life support.
Chief Lenaghan replied that some of the fire department’s staff have that training, but this is not a service that the fire department provides, as it is provided by a private contractor.
Member Nagy asked if advanced life support is a service that would be feasible for the fire department to provide.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this is a service that Council would have to look at 24-hour staffing of the fire department for.
Member Nagy asked if the City would need a lot more in order to provide that service.
Chief Lenaghan responded that this was correct. The City has looked at the issue before, as it was part of a referendum a few years ago. This matter went to the City’s voters and was not approved. If the service was approved, it would probably take a year just to implement. This would involve receiving State approval and having enough personnel for 24-hour staffing.
Member Nagy said she would be supporting the Chief’s requests, and said she would like to see some formulation of a plan to improve the stations as well, as this is vital and crucial to fire fighting.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if all fire fighters, whether paid on-call or permanent staff, are all MFR certified.
Chief Lenaghan replied that most are EMT’s, which is an even higher standard. Some paid on-call fire fighters are also paramedics. Just about everybody has at least medical first responder certification.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if it was correct that there is a percentage-of-call requirement that has to be met to stay active.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commented for the audience that if the paid on-call firefighters don’t make a certain amount of response calls, they are no longer on the force.
Chief Lenaghan stated that the City’s paid on-call fire fighters do a great job, especially considering the increase in the City’s activity rates. The paid on-call people work everyday; the City has people making 2 or 3 runs a night, then waking up at 6 a.m. the next morning and going to work. The majority of the people the department has, 95%, are paid on-call people. The fire department has a 40% attendance requirement. People can be excused for vacation and to have annual reviews done.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commented that he only wanted to clarify for the audience that there is a requirement that is being met for the paid on-call people. He asked if the requested supervisory personnel would mean that fire station #1 would be manned 24/7 by a full-time person.
Chief Lenaghan replied that the station would have a supervisor and 2 paid on-call people for the 507 sleep-in program. The department is looking to always have the one additional person to act as a supervisor.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if right now, for the 108 hours after 6 p.m. and before 6 a.m. and the weekends, if there is a structure fire, command is determined by whoever shows up at the incident.
Chief Lenaghan responded that this was correct.
* Member Lorenzo arrived at 9:54 a.m.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if, were this program were implemented, whoever the supervisor was that was working at that time would definitely be in charge at the structure fire.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was absolutely correct.
Member Gatt asked how two supervisors, neither which can work more than 53 hours per week, would be able to cover the 108 hour gap.
Chief Lenaghan replied that there is a two platoon system, which is the most economical way to fill the staffing needs. This system will incur a slight amount of overtime, and another problem for meeting all of the needed hours may be sick time.
Mr. Helwig said that a major reason that the addition must be negotiated is that it will alter the hours of the existing captain and lieutenant to help fill some of the other 108 hours.
Member Capello asked if it was correct that the City has some paid on-call officers that spend the night in the station.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was correct.
Member Capello asked how many of these officers the fire department has, and at what stations.
Chief Lenaghan said that this applied only to station #1, where two officers are kept on duty, including on the weekends.
Member Capello asked if the City always has two paid on-call fire fighters at station #1 every night.
Chief Lenaghan indicated that this was correct.
Member Capello asked if the City only needs supervisors at one station.
Chief Lenaghan said that if this program were adopted, it would place one supervisor at station #1 to operate the shift, so to speak.
Member Capello noted that drug money had recently been confiscated, and it seemed that the City could use that money for the first-year hiring of police officers. He asked if that money could be used at all for fire fighters.
Mr. Helwig replied that this money could not be used for fire fighters.
Member Lorenzo said she understood that this position would provide full-time supervisory positions at only fire station #1 on Grand River Avenue.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if right now, on the p.m. to a.m. shifts, the City does not necessarily have supervisory positions at the station if paid on-call fire fighters do not show up.
Chief Lenaghan said the fire department has three paid on-call fire officers at each station, so there are 12 paid on-call officers. If an incident occurs, these officers are very good about responding, but there is no guarantee for every time. If two stations are run to an incident, this means that there will be potentially 6 officers there, meaning that there will be one or two supervisors. There are four companies in the City, but right now there is not truly a coordinator. During the daytime, this is the job of the shift supervisor. This program would put a shift supervisor on for 24 hours, with a full-time shift during the day and a part-time shift at night, unit 1 and unit 2. With a supervisor at the station for 24 hours there will be consistency from 8 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock the next morning. Right now there are no guarantees that a paid on-call supervisor will be on the scene of an incident.
Member Lorenzo asked if Chief Lenaghan and/or the deputy chief was on call for those purposes as well.
Chief Lenaghan said that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo commented that there is already a supervisor available during the days, and the fire department is looking for a supervisor to be available during nights. She asked if the supervisor during the day ever works overtime to cover the night shift.
Chief Lenaghan noted that the fire department does not have a "night shift." The day shift people work under contract and work 48 hours a week. Unless there is an incident that starts at 5:30 and they stay there on overtime, the officers are not worked overtime.
Member Lorenzo asked if it was possible to offer the shift supervisor during the day the overtime for the next shift, the night position.
Chief Lenaghan replied that officers already work a 12-hour shift. To keep the officers there another 12 hours would involve paying them time and a half.
Member Lorenzo asked if it was possible to give someone else overtime for the nighttime shift.
Chief Lenaghan said it is in the contract that the full-time shift works 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. To change this, the contract would have to be opened.
Member Lorenzo said this was why she was asking if it was possible, meaning in particular with the contract that the City now has. She asked if the shift supervisor for the daytime shift changes, or if the fire department has a shift supervisor position.
Chief Lenaghan noted that the City has a captain and a lieutenant on the day shift right now that is available Monday through Friday.
Member Lorenzo asked if the captain and lieutenant are both at the station during the day.
Chief Lenaghan said they are not at the station during the day all of the time. They work 4 out of the 5 days of the week, and work a 48 hour work week.
Member Lorenzo asked if they are not allowed, according to the contract, to work any more than the 48 hours.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was correct, unless overtime is paid.
Member Lorenzo said she was looking at the possibility of, if one of the supervisors were to choose the overtime option, whether the position could be filled for the nighttime shift.
Chief Lenaghan replied that in order to maintain a 24-hour shift, a minimum of 4 supervisors are needed, which in reality should be 6 people. This is a 53 hour, 3 platoon, 2 person shift, allowing for overtime, sick time, and vacation time.
Member Lorenzo asked if it was correct that whoever shows up to a scene is assigned the supervisory position.
Chief Lenaghan said the fire department has designated supervisors, but also paid on-call officers at each station.
Member Lorenzo asked if specific individuals are assigned to the supervisory positions, not whoever shows up.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if the Chief is informed as to whether the nighttime supervisors have showed up.
Chief Lenaghan replied that he has a radio at his house that goes off with every run that the fire department makes, though he does not know who is on the truck with those runs.
Member Lorenzo asked Chief Lenaghan if, when the daytime shift ends and the nighttime shift comes in, he is aware if the nighttime supervisors have shown up.
Mr. Helwig noted that there is no such thing as a nighttime supervisor. For a run, a paid on-call officer most likely will come to the station and ride the apparatus to the scene. There is not a full-time night supervisor anywhere. This is the whole reason for his bringing the recommendation to Council’s attention, that the City is vulnerable. Chief Lenaghan and Assistant Chief Jeff Johnson are allowed to sleep. Assistant Chief Johnson was the incident commander the previous week on West Lake Drive because of the severity of the situation, and the time that the event occurred, 9 p.m. There were 3 paid on-call officers at that scene. The Chief has told him that he could not guarantee that a paid on-call officer for the 108 hours will show up for every incident occurring in the community. The City is of the nature of a daytime, nighttime population. The fire department has to close up at the end of the day, but be able to hold someone accountable.
Member Lorenzo asked if there were other officers at the scene of the previous week other than Jeff Johnson that could have assumed command if needed.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if it was not necessary for Assistant Chief Johnson to show up.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was correct, but that given the severity of the incident, it was important that he or the Chief be at the scene. He noted that Chief Lenaghan came later.
Member Lorenzo asked if the lack of supervision or inconsistent supervision had any operational effect upon the fire department. She asked if there was ever a situation where because of a lack or inconsistency of supervision that there was a problem.
Chief Lenaghan said that this was very difficult to say. He does not want to wait until there is a major problem and the City is sued again. For operational efficiency in the department at this time, something should be done about the staffing problem, and this is the most economical way to do it. The staffing situation could be left as is, which is functioning, but he commented that the department has only been doing that – functioning.
Member Lorenzo noted that the fire department has been functioning for more than 30 years in its current fashion. She asked if the Chief was not clarifying that there has ever been an "incident" because of this staffing.
Chief Lenaghan said that if Member Lorenzo meant whether or not the fire department had been sued, he said the answer was yes.
Mr. Helwig noted that he had met at the Chief’s office on Thursday morning following the incident the previous night. Had a supervisor been in station #1, there would have been 2 engines rolling. The call came in as a couch fire, so the fire department sent 1 engine. It was not until the flames were seen across the lake from station #2 that the department realized what type of situation they had.
Mr. Helwig stated that 108 hours out of the week, the Chief does not have anyone that he can hold accountable, and he and his Assistant Chief cannot be everywhere. The Fire and EMS Task Force, of which Mayor Csordas is the last remaining Council member to have served on, instructed Mr. Helwig that whenever he in conjunction with the Chief saw something that was an exposure or vulnerability, to bring this back to Council. He is bringing back this recommendation ahead of every other recommendation in terms of what little flexible general fund dollars the City has.
Member Lorenzo said that Mr. Helwig had not felt so strongly about the item 2 or 3 years ago when the task force was created.
Mr. Helwig said that Chief Lenaghan has come to him and stated that he could no longer guarantee responses. The world of paid on-call fire fighting is changing. He commented that the previous Wednesday, the fire fighters were "just extraordinary in their service to this community."
Mayor Csordas inquired as to the status of the officer that received 2nd-degree burns to his face from that incident.
Chief Lenaghan said that the officer had been treated and was released.
Mayor Csordas said that he had read the incident report and that it sounded like there were some very heroic actions taken.
Member Lorenzo asked if paid on-call officers are trained in that type of a nature, in terms of that type of a fire coming in from dispatch and how many trucks are needed.
Chief Lenaghan replied that the training that on-call officers receive as firefighters is exactly that – to fight fires. The call goes in to 911 first; the call went to 911 and was sent out as a couch fire, which requires one station. When the truck responded, just thinking that the incident was a couch fire, the officers observed the fire and called for a second truck.
Member Lorenzo asked if the paid on-call officers need additional training in terms of distinguishing different fires and who should respond. She asked if improvement is also needed for this.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was not how the event happened. The first call came in to the dispatcher that the couch was on fire. The paid on-call officers did not know anything about the fire at that time. The tone went off to alert officers to come to the station. They got to the station and were told on the radio that there was a couch burning. One station was sent, which would have been appropriate. As they started out to the incident, someone else called in and said that the couch was in the house so the event should be sent out as a structure fire, which requires two stations. He believed that there was also another 911 call that said the house was on fire. As the engine was going down Thirteen Mile, they looked across the lake and saw the house burning and called dispatch. This all occurred within a 1 or 1 ˝ minute period of time.
Member Lorenzo asked who determines to send one truck or two.
Chief Lenaghan responded that there is a procedure that dispatchers use, depending on what type of call comes in.
Member Lorenzo asked if it is currently the responsibility of the dispatcher to determine the number of trucks to respond.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was correct, based on the information that the dispatcher receives.
Member Lorenzo asked if it was correct that dispatch, when they received the call, sent one truck instead of two.
Chief Lenaghan replied that this was correct.
Mr. Helwig said the apparatus that was dispatched had been dispatched from fire station #2 on Thirteen Mile Road. Had the department had this position as part of the sleepover program at station #1 with the two paid on-call officers, the supervisor would have had a second apparatus going in closer proximity, and would have also had the engine from fire station #1 rolling. The supervisor would have immediately started backfilling with other communities. This took additional time to happen because the City does not have someone there that is paid to focus on this. The additional supervisor would not have changed the outcome, but the situation was a good example of why administration feels the addition is needed.
Member Lorenzo commented that she was "sold" on the addition, but was trying to determine all of the facts. As she approaches the budget she is looking at ever-increasing and escalating personnel costs. She said she would be asking Kathy Smith-Roy, at some point, for a ratio of personnel costs to City services actual delivery of costs provided. She assumed that personnel costs eat up the majority of the City’s budget. As she approaches the budget, not only for this year but for the future, she is looking at delivery of services. She does not want to get in the position of other communities that are raising taxes, lowering standards of service, or discharging employees. She would like to start getting a handle on this now instead of waiting until the future. She wants to make sure that every position that will be discussed is very necessary, particularly when discussing more administrative-type positions. Public safety is very serious, but she will be asking these types of questions. She asked about the necessity of 2 versus only 1 supervisors for right now.
Chief Lenaghan said that there would not really be two supervisors on duty all the time. Two of the three shifts that are worked will only have one supervisor.
Member Lorenzo asked if, with the recommendation for two more supervisory positions for this year, if the City found more money in the budget, if the fire department would be recommending more fire protection officers.
Chief Lenaghan said that what was presented this year was a 4-year plan to complete the system that the fire department has, not change it. That system is to bring the day shift up to 38 people, which would be 4 and 2 at each station; currently, the department has 2 and 2. This is a proposal for Council’s consideration, and is a goal that the fire department is looking for. The second part of that plan came up and did not even originally include the 24-hour supervisors. He wished to clarify something about paid on-call training: officers are very well trained. The City has had a very active training program for the 26 years that he has been here, and the City has some very well trained paid on-call people. He does not believe that it is true that there is a deficiency in the decision making that paid on-call officers might make. The fire department does, however, have many new people. There has been a transition in the organization in the last 10 years. The City used to have more experienced people in the department, but does not have many anymore. Thus, the department relies heavily upon current supervisors, some who have been here for a very long time. If a captain has to be pulled out to take charge of a scene, an element is removed their team that should be there to achieve the team’s assignment. More and more incidents such as overcrowding at public assemblies continue to occur, and more and more decision making has to be made. With situations on the expressway, the City used to send one truck but now sends two, and the City also wants one of its own police cars at the scene. During the day, the supervisor goes with. Half the time, the fire department cannot find the location, and usually finds the accident at another location. To make the procedure work, there should be a supervisor from the start, not "somebody pulled off of second base until the coach gets here."
Member Lorenzo reiterated that she had been convinced of the situation, and said she feels that Chief Lenaghan and his department do a fantastic job, and have done a great deal with little over the years. She did not want it to seem that she did not trust his judgment. Rather, it is important to go through the discussion of the matter.
As the second part of the discussion, Member Lorenzo noted that a major part of public safety that the fire department does is CEMS. She asked if there are a number of full-time firefighters that must be on board before the City can provide full time advanced life support with paramedic firefighters.
Chief Lenaghan asked if Member Lorenzo was discussing a City-run advanced life support system furnished by the fire department.
Member Lorenzo said she was looking for enhancement of the current situation. There is only one ambulance that is stationed in the City. There was a situation where, by circumstance, the second vehicle was too far away to respond immediately to a second emergency. She feels that the City needs some type of second emergency-type response unit. The task force had recommended by a vote that the City start the paramedic-type firefighter training. She asked if for this type of training whether there is a minimum number of full-time fire protection officers needed.
Chief Lenaghan said that this would require keeping two people on duty 24 hours. To do that on a 53 hour work week takes 6 people.
Member Lorenzo asked if the City just has 2 people for those 53 hours.
Chief Lenaghan replied that the City has 2 paid on-call people that are kept at the stations for nights and weekends.
Member Lorenzo asked how many additional fire protection officers would be needed to be able to provide advanced life support.
Chief Lenaghan requested that he be able to gather more information before answering the question. Providing such service would involve changing the contract, 24-hour shifts, and other considerations. To put one unit in would require 9 people to operate that unit.
Member Lorenzo commented that the City would really need 9 full-time people to operate the advanced life support rig. She asked how many full-time officers the City currently employs.
Chief Lenaghan replied that the City currently has 26, but would need 35 for the advanced life support unit.
Member Lorenzo recalled that a few years back, Council had actually budgeted for about $225,000 for a vehicle. The City got a vehicle for free, but this is paid for by the insurance by victims needing the service of this emergency vehicle.
Mayor Csordas clarified that Member Lorenzo was not discussing a City-purchased vehicle, but rather one that CEMS provides as part of their contract.
Member Lorenzo said that this was correct right now. Council had budgeted for $225,000 to purchase a contract vehicle to sit in Novi for this advanced life support service. She believed that there had actually been discussion of purchasing two units at that time.
Mayor Csordas said that there was such discussion, but that the price went up exponentially for the second vehicle, as the cost would have been considerably more than $225,000 for the second.
Member Lorenzo commented that this was true at that time, before the vehicle was assigned without the costs coming to Novi.
Mr. Helwig said that the $225,000 was the cost for the contract, not just for the vehicle. This included personnel, run expenses, and everything else. The City did not have CEMS or anyone else dedicating a vehicle to Novi 24 hours a day. The big innovation in that contract, for which the City thought it would have to pay $200,000-something, was for CEMS to dedicate a vehicle and have it stationed within the geographic limits of Novi for 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It turned out that this could be done at zero cost. Most recently, the issue came to Council because of a concern about response times, and it was discussed what it would take to get a second vehicle within Novi. Administration is still waiting to receive that report, but he anticipates that information coming to Council during these budget negotiations.
Member Lorenzo stated that she feels this is a critical area that Council needs to respond to, and is almost equal to perhaps the necessity of the supervisor positions. If a second vehicle cannot get to a life-threatening situation within critical minutes, a life could be lost. She sees the advanced life support as being at least on par with the supervisory positions in the fire department.
Member Gatt noted that Council had spoken at great length about an incident that occurred in the prior week. He wanted to clarify that had the Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief and everyone in the fire department been on duty, it would not have changed the results. He believed that there had been a local citizen that had attempted a rescue but had been turned back because of the circumstances.
Member Nagy commended both the full-time and on-call firefighters for the City. She has had, with her family in Livonia, her mother’s house burn down, though her mother’s life was saved. This is a basic service that she would like to see improvement on every single year. Everyone in the City should be appreciative of the fire department, both full-time and on-call officers, especially with the limited resources from which it operates.
Mr. Helwig noted that there had been extensive discussions with the police department. The City has been adding entry-level police officer positions, but has not added supervisors in the police department since 1996. The City has reached a point where, not just because of overtime expenditures but because of the proper delivery and supervision associated with police services, additional supervisors are needed in the police department’s operational shifts. The rank and file police officers are on 12-hour shifts. Supervisors are not, and are still on 8-hour shifts. Supervisors do not have continuity in connection with the people that they are supervising, and there is only one supervisor on a shift at a time. Many times, that supervisor is involved with matters at the police headquarters and is not able to be out on the road doing what supervisors should be doing in that capacity. The number one priority in the police department being brought forward to Council is to add a police sergeant to each of the shifts. He noted that a document in the budget document stated that the request is for 3 sergeants; however, the City cannot afford this. Administration poked and probed to get 6 months of what was heard about the fire department and to get 6 months for 2 sergeants in the police department. Administration hopes that the sergeants will agree to go to 12-hour shifts. That must be negotiated, and leadership tells him that there is more than a 50/50 likelihood of that happening. However, if the police department were to remain on 3 shifts to do what the City would like to accomplish, the City should have 3 sergeants – one for each of the 8-hour shifts. If the police department goes to 2 shifts, the City can accomplish what it would like to by adding 1 sergeant to each of those shifts. The police department, if it did go to 12-hour shifts for the sergeants, would still want the third sergeant for administrative purposes and to help with investigations. Administration is only able to recommend 2 sergeants for 6 months, the intent being to have a greater road patrol presence and accountability of what is happening. More of urban America is coming to this community. The City must try to prevent crimes from happening as much as possible before they do. When crimes do occur, all these things set up from the very first moment we appear. Supervision is critical to doing these things properly, seeing that citizens are well served and that justice is served in the community.
Chief Shaeffer said the Novi police department is working in a very dynamic and growing community. With the growth-oriented community comes attendant police operations and problems. The community needs the department’s assistance for a wide variety of reasons. He has talked at times past about the police department’s need to continue to grow as the community grows and as the demands for service continue to grow. For example, the numbers of calls for service at the police department have been very rapidly escalating. Calls for service are not necessarily for crimes; they may be for traffic accidents, which are not a crime. Some calls pertain to suspicious person reports, and the department sends an officer to the scene. The City of Novi is experiencing, and will continue to experience, a large number of remarkable-type incidents, including the death of a 2-year-old child, a $1.2 million jewelry theft, homicides, rapes, and recently a drug seizure. Such things come with growing communities and larger communities, which Novi is becoming. However, this does not make Novi an unsafe community, as it remains a very safe community. Nevertheless, such incidents require a great deal of the police department’s resources.
Chief Shaeffer asked to focus Council’s attention toward supervisory activities. Supervisors are very important in anybody’s business, but especially so with police. There is a very large liability issue that occurs with police departments today. Oftentimes, such liability is focused around the failure to provide adequate supervision. Beyond this, the police department’s current supervisors are exceptionally busy, as a huge level of responsibility is placed upon them. The department’s first line supervisors are constantly busy and have little time to get out of the station, onto the street to work with the officers. The street is where the police department needs to be able to provide better and greater levels of supervision, not only for risk reduction and liability reduction but for risk reduction in terms of safety and security. Supervisors try to direct resources from inside the communications unit in times of need, instead of trying to direct officers’ actions out on the street. Both of these duties are needed. Supervisors are sometimes working double shifts, 16 hours, which also creates a huge fatigue factor. The police department wants to provide improved quality control and accountability, and make sure that officers are working to the very best of their abilities. The department would also like to improve its emergency readiness and response, which requires supervisory controls and activities as well.
Member Gatt asked for a breakdown before the next meeting of how many calls for service are for actual crimes, and how many are for "99-41’s," where an officer pulls a complaint number because he or she is patrolling a certain locale of the City. Unlike the fire department, the police department has a 24-hour supervisor at all times, 7 days a week. Many, many times because of vacation days, sick days or personal days, the sergeant is required to work a double shift, which he had done many times in his career. This is very fatiguing and is not doing a service to the community. Not only that, but such double shifts are very expensive. He said he would support the recommendation for 2 new sergeants, and said he would try to talk the Council into supporting a third sergeant. At one time, the City did have an administrative sergeant not too many years ago. That administrative sergeant assisted the Chief, the Deputy Chief, the detective and the lieutenant on investigations and administrative matters. He or she could be a great benefit to the City. Public safety is the number one issue facing the community. He said he would support the item, and wanted to make it clear that the City always has a supervisor on duty in the police department.
Member Lorenzo said that in addition to the request for information made by Member Gatt, she would like to have such information broken down for the citations issued in categories: from 2000 to 2003, what the additional citations have been. She would like to see what categories of citations have increased during that time span – a breakdown of the categories of the citations, and what citations have increased during this timeframe of 2000 to 2003.
Member Lorenzo commented that she values and understands the necessity for supervisory positions, as well as the serious and important role that they play in the police department. However, as Member Gatt had stated, the police department situation is somewhat different than the fire department’s situation in that the police currently have 24-hour supervisors in position at all times. These supervisors do work overtime, and she understands fatigue. She asked if critical situations have occurred in the police department because of fatigue or other circumstances.
Chief Shaeffer replied that there are a number of situations that occur when a supervisor is not in the field, but rather are in the office in dispatch. There have frequently been incidents where a supervisor should have been in the field. Neighboring communities have very standard rules for when supervisors should be responding to calls.
Member Lorenzo asked what neighbors Chief Shaeffer was referring to.
Chief Shaeffer replied that Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, and Livonia are such communities, all comparable in size and activities to Novi. Those communities have policies in place to direct supervisors to respond to calls for service with their officers in many mandatory situations, such as domestic situations, because of potentials in those. The City of Novi does not have that luxury and cannot do that.
Member Lorenzo said she was looking for operational failures because of supervisory fatigue, and was particularly focusing on the fatigue situation.
Chief Shaeffer replied that he would have to reflect on this question.
Member Lorenzo invited the Chief to provide information to Council at any time during budget discussions. She commented that she did not want to seem insensitive to issues like fatigue or the improvement that additional supervisors in the field could bring to the police department, but she feels the real need for emphasis is additional road patrol. In the ideal world, if the City had money for everything, it would be great to be able to provide additional supervisors and additional road patrol officers. In the situation that Novi is in with such limited resources, the City has to prioritize these situations. The City already has 24-hour supervision in the police department. She understands the overtime situation, but in terms of financial considerations, it does not make sense to save $40,000 a year in overtime to spend $100,000 or more every year on personnel costs that will escalate from year to year, as these positions will likely be permanent. In terms of the average resident or businessperson that calls, she feels that the emphasis still needs to be on road patrol right now. Chief Shaeffer has come to Council a number of times in recent years and demonstrated the ratio of officers to citizens. Every year as the City grows this gap is widening. She understands that sergeants do respond to some of the road patrol calls, but she is seeking the most cost-effective way to provide and improve services to citizens. In fact, she was the person who asked for the information on what it would cost to provide one sergeant and add a couple of new road patrol officers to the system. She requested a further breakdown as to the cost of each police officer and the cost for each sergeant, as these seem to have gone up.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commended Chief Shaeffer and the police department. With the regional emergency because of last year’s blackout, with the horrific crime that the City had, and with what could have been a catastrophic incident with the drug raid, the police did a wonderful job. People often read in the newspapers about cities and Novi, but never do people read the police or fire departments being criticized by anyone. The police department does just an excellent job. He also commended the Chief on the department’s plan. As Chief Lenaghan mentioned, City decision-makers need a plan because the community is getting bigger. Every time the community grows, the challenges grow exponentially. He appreciates that the police department has a plan that Council can use to try and come as close as possible to hitting the target every year.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry expressed his agreement with Member Gatt’s comments that, if possible, the City should try to add a third sergeant. However, he is not unmindful of the comments of the City Manager and staff that even the request for 3 sergeants and the recommendation for 2 are for only 6 months. He said was willing to defer to Chief Shaeffer as to where the additional officers should be added, such as placing the new officers in supervisory positions. In his personal experience it makes sense to do this. He has represented police officers in several municipalities on several legal issues, and Chief Shaeffer is correct that a lack of supervision is a huge liability. Supervisors need to be sharp, act calm and make the priority decisions, but this is extremely difficult when they are working two shifts. This is necessary and has to happen at times, but certainly in the overall plan the City should try to minimize those instances. He said he would defer to Chief Shaeffer on that recommendation, though he noted his agreement with Member Lorenzo that the City certainly needs more road patrol. If money could be found for a third sergeant, even if only for three months, he would support the addition.
Member Nagy commented that she was in a quandary because she agreed with both of the previous speakers. Though she is not a lawyer, she is a court reporter and does a lot of depositions. Fatigue and overwork cause stress, which is very unhealthy. She was recently in a deposition where the sergeant was extremely stressed out and had "lost it." She was not saying that anyone in the City’s police department would do this, but she does not want to place undue stress on people. The impact on the life of the person, as well as the overall department, is very negative from this. She said she would not mind seeing the two additional sergeants, but she would also like to add road patrol officers. She wondered whether the recently-confiscated drug money would be able to be used for any increase in the police department. The 5-6 year plan is vital to increase the number of patrol officers. The City needs to worry about protecting not just 50,000 people, but more than that on a daily basis, as there are perhaps 100,000 people per day in the City. She said she would support that item, as it is crucial. However, she would like to see an additional patrol officer instead of a third sergeant. The City continues to add subdivisions, buildings and roads and these need to be patrolled. A police presence, even if the officer is only patrolling through the area, is very effective, and she would like to add an additional patrol officer. In addition, the police department performs a lot of volunteer work. She sees Sergeants Whitfield and McNamara performing such work at the bowl-a-thon and with the Novi Goodfellows. Other officers are also out there volunteering, and they also have a life.
Member Gatt stated that there is no question that more patrol officers are needed in the City. Citizens of the City spoke many years ago when they gave the City a mandate to keep up with the FBI regulations of 1.5 officers per 1,000 people, which would equal about 75 officers – a number that the City is far short of. To be effective, management supervisors should not have more than 5 to 7 people under their command. There are times in the police department today when, because of the quandary of officers working 12-hour shifts and sergeants working 8-hour shifts, that there might be 7 to 12 officers working, 4 or 5 dispatchers, and perhaps a clerk or two, all under the command of a sergeant. That person cannot possibly be effective with having to supervise so many people. Officers on the street run into people that are troubled, and some officers are new and need help from a supervisor. That supervisor cannot be in two places or more at once, which is what the City is currently asking police supervisors to do. The police department needs more officers, but as the force grows the supervisors are essential for proper supervision. Administration has come to Council with a recommendation for 2 officers with a supposition that perhaps the command staff would go to 12-hour shifts. Having been a supervisor, he felt that there was better than a 50/50 chance that command staff would agree to this change. Perhaps this should be discussed further with command staff because if they won’t agree to the change, then 2 sergeants will not resolve the problem in the department and 3 will be needed. The 12-hour shifts would mean that there are two shifts, days and nights, meaning that two sergeants would resolve the problem. If there will be more shifts, then two will not be enough. Assuming that the police department goes to 12-hour shifts, he still wants to look at adding a third sergeant to place one more sergeant upstairs. If command staff does not go to 12-hour shifts, then the City has to add a third sergeant to resolve the problem of a lack of supervision.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry inquired what amount of money would need to be budgeted in order to add a third sergeant.
Mr. Helwig replied that administration would like to hire a third sergeant as soon as possible as well. The idea of forfeiture funds being available this year for this purpose is not a possibility. The greatest hope for the additional sergeant is with regard to obtaining the second half of the Tasers money. If the scenario was to hire three sergeants and one officer, the City cannot supplant these funds by hiring them July 1, 2004 and then wait to see if these forfeiture funds can pay for that. He asked if Council wanted to use those funds for operations matters, as they won’t be available indefinitely.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked what is involved with the negotiations with command staff at the police department, and the possibility of changing to 12-hour shifts for supervisors.
Chief Shaeffer said the switch to 12-hour shifts would mirror what police officers are currently on.
Mr. Helwig noted that the current contract calls for 8-hour shifts. The request would be to reopen the contract, which expires in 2 years from July.
Member Capello inquired if the new sergeants would need to have a vehicle provided for them.
Chief Shaeffer replied that there are already vehicles available for the new sergeants’ use.
Mayor Csordas encouraged that Council maintain the rainy day fund balance when deliberating the budget, as this helps the City in many, many ways. He noted his support for the request for the supervisors, and said he agrees with Mayor Pro Tem Landry in that he will defer to the Chief’s request regarding staffing. The City is currently down 11 officers from what it should have, and he said he appreciated the fact that the Chief understands that the City lacks the money for these additional officers. He commended the Chief for asking only for what the police department absolutely needs, which makes the decision much easier for him as Mayor. There are some things that Council can push back and some things that cannot be pushed back. Personnel for police and fire are two of the top level things that cannot be pushed back and deferred to future budgets. Council had received two important reports that week, one from Plante-Moran about Proposition A, and the other discussed how the drug forfeiture money could be spent. He recalled an interesting phrase in that second report: "Don’t count your chickens before they hatch." He was glad to see Council not trying to spend money that the City does not yet have, as that would not be good fiscal policy. He thanked Chief Shaeffer for the detailed information presented for the budget meeting.
Member Nagy said that in her estimation, DPW is the third branch of public safety because of snow removal. Snow removal and the other tasks that the DPW does are very critical. She hoped that when that portion of the budget talks are reached, Council would look at DPW in terms of public safety.
Mr. Helwig said that two key issues were highlighted regarding roads, the first being the I-96 and Beck Road interchange. The City is blessed to be underway with this project in an environment where road funds are being terminated or reduced. The previous day, the U.S. House of Representatives finally voted on the 6-year renewal of the transportation bill that brings not only highway money, but also mass transit money throughout America. That bill is at a lower level in the U.S. Senate, which means that the bill will probably not fulfill what representatives in Washington have been seeking, to get a 95-cent-on-the-dollar return to Michigan instead of the ninety-point-something cents that the State currently receives. This would be extra money for the State to help fulfill requirements like this interchange project. Nonetheless, city engineer said the State opened proposals yesterday for the second and final contract on this interchange, the ramp work. It appears that Dan’s Excavating is the low bidder. That company did the work on the Grand River Avenue bridge. The contract should be awarded in early May if all goes well at the State. The bid appears to be under the State’s estimate for the project, as the State’s contract proposal for the project is about $14 million. The community will be enduring another major detour construction project. This was sent out to Council previously. When the portion of Twelve Mile west of West Park Drive and Beck Road is closed off, there will be detour for drivers from the north. The voters of the City included $6 million in 2000 for the City’s portion of the construction. Administration will try to keep citizens informed of what is happening there so that they can avoid the area as much as possible. The Wixom Road interchange with I-96 has been deferred and is not in the State’s current 5-year plan. The State was likely counting on additional federal funds to be able to incorporate that project into the 5-year plan.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the City is finished with all of the litigation regarding the right-of-way and similar issues with the I-96 and Beck Road interchange.
Mr. Helwig replied that he was not aware of any such litigation. He noted that the interchange project also involved nice property donations, not only from Providence Hospital but also from the development company for the northwest corner of Beck Road and Twelve Mile. The Novi Road improvements are the remaining improvements associated with the 2000 Road Bond. Everything is in process or completed except for the Novi Road improvements. From meetings with the Oakland County Road Commission, it appears that the Novi Road and Grand River Avenue intersection will be completed this year. This will be a very difficult intersection to negotiate when it is under construction, which is somewhat discouraging after the inconvenience of Grand River Avenue being rebuilt last year. However, this will set the stage for what Council has stated as its next priority, to try to improve Grand River Avenue east of Novi Road all the way to Haggerty. The intersection of Ten Mile and Novi Road will likely not be completed this year, as final paving will probably lag into next year.
Ms. McClain stated that currently the project is scheduled to go to bid by the State in June, provided that all the right-of-way has been acquired. This has not happened yet, but it is expected to be finished this month so that the State can get it on the June bidding. In July, construction would start, with the first area being utility relocation. The boundaries of the Ten Mile and Grand River intersection actually extend in every direction: to the north almost to the Michigan CAT property, to the west to the Whitehall Nursing Home, to the east to Catherine Drive, and to the south to Arena Drive. This is actually more than just an intersection project, and the work will be done in 3 phases, with the final paving occurring next spring.
Mr. Helwig said the City’s funding portions for both intersections are included in the Road Bond. The length in between is far more challenging in terms of property acquisition. The intersection projects cover more area than it would seem. The City is hopeful that by getting better contract prices on Grand River Avenue from Beck Road to the bridge, that any extra money will help with these projects. The Road Bond will have covered all of its costs. Included in this year’s budget is an update to the PASER, or pavement management system, to do the laser analysis and give a revised PASER map to the community. This is the fourth year of 5 years included in the Road Bond program for neighborhood road repaving.
Ms. McClain said that the intent is for the City to be through all of the bituminous roads in categories 1-5, the worst roads, by the end of this year. By the end of next year, the concrete sections will also have been completed.
Mr. Helwig said that the pledge to the community was that the City would not come back to them on anything having to do with road bonds for a minimum of 5 years. At the end of this year, asphalt will be completed through PASER 5; next year, concrete will be completed through PASER 5. Then the question will be, for next year’s budget, if the ongoing road money can sustain an adequate neighborhood road repaving program.
Mr. Helwig noted that the chip seal program was the other matter that administration was bringing before Council. Council had authorized this as a first-year program last year. Delmont, Dinser and Austin Roads were completed. Administration has included, City-wide, 7,134 feet of chip sealing at a cost of $105,000 from the road program this year. Burton Drive is one of the roads planned in the proposal to be chip sealed.
Mr. McCusker said that when comparing Burton Drive to Dinser Drive – which was chip sealed last year – in late February, two little potholes were found on Dinser Drive, which took one man about 7 minutes to fill the potholes and leave. On Burton Drive, it took 2 dump trucks with underbodies and 2 loads of stone to grade it out and fill in the area. It took 2 full days to clean up the dirt streets after a snowfall. The type of manpower that is needed on dirt or gravel streets after a snowfall is unbelievable, especially during a thaw. Usually the department must wait for a day or so to get some of the "soup" off of the road before the trucks can work on it, so residents are in a bad situation for up to a week after a severe snowfall. He is a proponent of chip sealing, which is an alternative to asphalt paving. With proper maintenance, the chip seal will stay in place for 5 or 6 years without having to do any extended maintenance on it. The savings in manpower and equipment time alone are unbelievable. There are minor repairs needed after winter, especially after the severe winter that Michigan just had, but it is much easier than regular dirt roads. When snowplowing, salt is not laid on the dirt streets because it breaks up the street; workers just put a blade on the road and leave a thin layer of snow on so that the street is passable.
Member Nagy asked if there was an estimated cost of the gravel that is laid on a road during grading of dirt roads.
Mr. McCusker replied that the DPW has a breakdown of both man hours and equipment time, though he did not have this on him at the time.
Member Nagy said she would appreciate a copy of that information. Placing DPW staff on dirt road duty takes them away from other projects around the City.
Mr. McCusker commented that during thaw times there are a lot of other activities, many of them drainage-based, that also need attention.
Member Nagy said she was amazed at the difference in driving down the chip sealed streets from before and after they were chip sealed.
Member Lorenzo agreed with Member Nagy that DPW is part of the City’s public safety in terms of maintaining roads, both during the winter and at other times of the year. She supported the chip and seal program this past year, particularly after Mr. McCusker came forward with all of the detailed information. Chip sealing certainly seemed like a cost effective way to provide a better surface for the streets, both for appearance and safety. She said she would fully support this program during this year and in future years. She asked if page 23 of the white book of the budget document was correct regarding the PASER system, as it stated, "There are currently 12 concrete streets rated a 5, totaling just over 3 miles, to be completed in 2004. At that point, all local streets rated 5 or less will be repaved."
Ms. McClain replied that she had missed that date as a typo, as it should have read "to be completed in 2005."
Member Lorenzo asked when administration anticipated actually solidifying a contract for that service.
Mr. Helwig said that as soon as Council would authorize the measure, the City would go out for proposals.
Member Lorenzo asked if Council had to wait until May for approval.
Mr. Helwig said that whenever Council takes a vote on something, whether hiring personnel or something else, administration will move and make sure it comes out in the next fiscal year. He said this would be in place closer to July 1 rather than later.
Member Lorenzo suggested bringing the chip seal issue back at the second meeting in April. She asked if the City goes out to bid for the chip sealing, or if there is a particular company that it uses.
Mr. Helwig replied that the City sought proposals the first time it went through with chip sealing.
Member Lorenzo commented that dates will be important as to when this would be completed. Since the City looks at what roads will be worked on in 2005 during the fall, the contract needs to stipulate that the roads be finished early enough in the summer so that by fall, administration is able to come back to Council to select the roads for 2005.
Mr. Helwig said that one of the capital improvement program recommendations is a certain amount of money for concrete streets. There are other concrete roads that are in the pool for Council’s consideration this summer. He asked if an updated PASER would be a helpful tool for Council when making those choices.
Ms. McClain replied that most streets have not been fixed yet and are not listed in the program is that they rate higher than a 5 on the PASER, predominately at the 6 and 7 categories. The City’s current PASER has approximately 19 miles of streets that are rated a 6.
Mr. Helwig asked if engineering is expecting to complete the PASER analysis before Council makes its choices, or if it is going with the information that it now has.
Ms. McClain said that what was planned with the PASER was to physically do the streets in July as was done last time. Engineering would get the information back in August. With the concrete streets that are listed, the City might ask to have these done first, or can even do visual inspections and select some roads out separately.
Mr. Helwig asked if the City is expecting to have the analysis done on the pool of concrete streets with the new PASER for Council to make its decisions with so that the selected roads can be done this construction season.
Ms. McClain replied that it is a very good possibility that those roads can be done this construction season.
Member Lorenzo commented that "this construction season" would mean next fall again, which she wanted to avoid. Residents in Westmont Village would probably have preferred to have waited until spring of this year instead of fall of last year, and the City is still waiting for some work to be done there. She asked what work remains to be done in Westmont.
Ms. McClain replied that the City only needs to make sure that the grass has re-grown correctly. The concrete is finished in Westmont.
Member Lorenzo said it would be her preference to wait until the spring of 2005 to do those road repairs, such as Addington and others, for $750,000. It has been her philosophy that the City not put any subdivisions ahead of any others based on the last PASER management study. In other words, the remaining Westmont Village roads were actually 6’s and 7’s in the last PASER document; she would not want to place those in this year’s budget until Council receives the new PASER study.
Mr. Helwig said that administration was hoping to work on the roads perhaps as soon as this summer. He noted that Member Lorenzo was referring to appendix c in the budget message, "concrete street repairs: Addington, Windridge, Wintergreen, and others - $750,000." Administration is recommending that work to be done in this fiscal year that starts July 1. Whether the work is done this summer, fall, or next spring is Council’s decision. In order to help Council decide which roads to do, it would be helpful to have the PASER information. He asked Council to take a vote on just that item as it was suggested at the next budget session so that administration can go out for proposals and perhaps even have those streets done before July.
Member Lorenzo asked what Mr. Helwig meant when he discussed July, as Council would not have the PASER information by July.
Mr. Helwig said that if the City can go out with proposals in April, the work might be able to be accomplished by July. If Ms. McClain can expedite the ratings for the noted roads, then Council would have the option of approving their work.
Member Lorenzo said she would like to keep the option open, but said she would be waiting for the PASER information. If the PASER says that the roads are 5’s, then they can be done. She wants to provide equity in the program process so that the City is not favoring certain streets more than others.
Mayor Csordas said he wanted to make sure that the City was completing all of the projects per the first PASER recommendation.
Mr. Helwig noted that it is no small coincidence that the cost amount is just about what it would cost to do the asphalt work east of Venture Drive on Nine Mile Road. In other words, administration will make a recommendation for an allocation in the budget for that and to put off the other part of Nine Mile until next year.
Member Nagy said that one of the major things that she had seen planned to do this year was Meadowbrook Road from Grand River to Twelve Mile. With new construction going in at that area, she wondered if it would be more prudent to wait for more development before working on this road. She felt that the new road might have to be torn up because of the development to come.
Ms. McClain replied that Meadowbrook between I-96 and Twelve Mile is currently a 2 on the PASER system, on a rating of 1 to 10. The road is desperately in need of work. Last year, Mr. McCusker put a cap over the road, but this is only a band-aid patch, and the road is failing from right underneath that patch.
Member Nagy inquired if it would not be better to just band-aid/patch the road until development is done, since all of the trucks and traffic will be tearing the road up.
Ms. McClain noted that Meadowbrook is a major road in the City. Currently, the development projects have site plan approval but have not come in to complete their buildings. It was the decision of the Council at last year’s budget session that this road was ready for repaving, which is what engineering acted upon.
Member Nagy asked, regarding chip seal, how the locations were determined. Work on South Lake Drive was recently completed. Side streets along that road were in horrendous shape with potholes. She expressed concern about that area, and said it would make sense to do those side streets.
Mr. McCusker replied that a 5-year program was developed to handle the roughly 13 miles of unpaved roads. The City did half of a subdivision last year, and received numerous phone calls from residents in the adjoining sub in the winter about their roads. As it will cost about the same amount of money to complete the next area of that sub, it would be logical to complete this. Utilities are not installed for some streets around Walled Lake, and when those utilities are installed the paving will be torn up. The vehicle for paving the gravel roads is the chip seal, and the DPW did not want to have to go back and do that work again in 2 years because water and sewer are going in.
Mr. Klaver said that, in developing the 5-year plan, he had asked Mr. McCusker to look at the roads where the City spent the most money on maintenance based on the cost savings of chip sealing over continuing to gravel. This was another part of Mr. McCusker’s considerations with the plan.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked, regarding the concrete street repair item in appendix c that Mr. Helwig had referred to, for the $750,000, what would be involved with the listed roads. He asked what was meant by "concrete street repairs."
Ms. McClain replied that this depends on whether or not the street needs to be entirely replaced, as did the first 850 feet of Westmont. That is the more expensive version of road repair. If there are places in a road that have worse sections than others, selective removals may be done and over-topping of others to best sustain the roads while maintaining the costs.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked how a concrete road is over-topped.
Ms. McClain replied that there is a process called "white topping" that can be used, and the roads can also be over-topped with blacktop, depending on what the deterioration is to the roadway.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if $750,000 will be sufficient to do the work for the roads in the three subdivisions listed in that list.
Ms. McClain responded that this money "is a start." The first section of Westmont cost about $250,000. This would cover approximately 1 subdivision at this point.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commented that Council would receive PASER results and would have to decide which subdivision is done based upon recommendations from the City. The rest will have to have cold patch or hot patch placed on it until the next budget time.
Mayor Csordas said he did not understand how the subdivision he lives in was built 2 years prior to Addington and Westmont, probably to the same specifications that those roads were built on, and there is nothing wrong with his street.
Ms. McClain replied that part of those roads’ problems has to do with the soils underneath. What was noticed with Westmont, especially with the first 850 feet, was that the area was filled with clay. When clay is disturbed and packed back in it does not settle the same way as when it was removed. This creates additional settling, and also allows more water to get in. The Mayor’s subdivision is flatter, so it did not have as much cut and fill, and may have a different soil type with more sand that allows for more drainage.
Mayor Csordas said that the road problems are clearly developer-driven issues. He asked if the developers were actually not up to spec, or if the soil and other factors were responsible for the deterioration.
Ms. McClain commented that one of the reason a number of green areas in the City have been reserved are that the areas have a lot of wetlands with higher water tables, which also affects the roads.
Member Capello said that Westmont paving and drainage was listed as completed under short term goals, yet it seemed that more paving would be done, and a resident had complained about drainage of the road. He asked if only a facet of the road was completed.
Mr. Helwig replied that 850 feet of the road is completed. The City has promised to go back and look at drainage issues on that road. The direction was that the Westmont road be placed in the pool for Council’s consideration this year. The $750,000 is an extraordinary allocation over and above the $1,580,000 of the neighborhood road program, and this amount may well not be enough. Council may have to establish a priority order once the City has better PASER information.
Member Capello said that appendix c listed work on Novi Road as $300,000, but that the Road Bond listed this work as $3,000,000.
Mr. Helwig said those might be the total project costs, and the $300,000 could be the City’s 10%. He said these figures would be examined in detail with the capital improvement program.
Member Capello asked if the delay in doing the length because the City will not get the money from the other sources.
Mr. Helwig said there were a lot of reasons for this delay. It was always expected that the two intersections would be done first. The link involves resolving Stricker Paint, which the County is managing the acquisition of. The County has to design the overpass over the railroad tracks, as well as assemble their finances, which are not in place yet. The entire length cannot be completed because the County has to put all of its money in place, including federal highway money.
Mr. Pearson commented that even though the funds have been there for the road, the County funds are just now being used for right-of-way acquisition.
Member Capello said he reluctantly voted for the chip seal last year, as he understood that it saves the City money. Certain residents are now paying for pavement and streets for other residents, but paid for their own streets as part of their housing costs. He said he would consider this before voting for chip seal again. He asked if any analysis had been done as to whether the City wants to require subdivision roads to be all asphalt instead of all concrete, as a number of subdivisions such as Westmont and Mystic Forest are experiencing wide deterioration of their concrete streets.
Mr. Helwig replied that the Council committee is to begin meeting in April per Mr. Pearson’s memo, and to review the City’s standards and consider whether the City should use asphalt roads and try to get developers to do concrete driveways, reverse of what is done now. This work is supposed to be done by June 30, and could fit into Council’s selection of roads and how to approach them.
Member Capello asked if Council could allocate the money now and decide later whether streets will be asphalt or concrete.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was correct.
Mayor Csordas asked when the next budget meeting date was.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was 3 weeks from that day, April 24th, from 9 a.m. until noon. The third work session is a Wednesday evening, May 5th, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Member Capello asked what Council’s deadline was to approve the budget.
Mr. Helwig replied that the charter requires the budget be approved no later than the third Monday in May. The second Council meeting in May is when Council must adopt the next year’s budget.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Helwig if he felt that Council could make it through everything in the 3 hours scheduled for the next budget meeting.
Mr. Helwig said that city services is the large remaining item to discuss, as well as the capital improvement program. He felt that these could be dealt with in the 3 hours, but staff would be there as long as Council saw fit.
Mr. Helwig suggested that it might be wise to reserve additional time for the next budget meeting so that no one would feel rushed.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry suggested that Council plan on meeting from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. with a lunch break for the next budget meeting.
* Council consensus was to meet for the next budget meeting from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., with a one-half hour lunch break.
Member Capello felt that Council should keep the 3-hour time length, and carry over the meeting if needed. That way, if it needs 5 hours, it will take 5 hours.
c. City Services
d. Parks, Recreation & Forestry
f. Growth Management & Development
g. Capital Improvements Program
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 12:00 p.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: April 19, 2004