GRAND TRAVERSE RURAL FIRE BOARD MEETING MINUTES
4123 Vance Road
Traverse City, MI 49685
September 16, 2015
Regular Meeting held at 6:00 p.m.
Chairman Tim Trudell Vice-Chair Doug Mansfield Treasurer Karen Rosa
Members: Fife Lake -Linda Forwerck, Grant – Doug Moyer, Green Lake- Paul Biondo, Long Lake – Karen Rosa, Paradise- Tim Trudell, Springfield- Tom Gray Union- Doug Mansfield, Whitewater- Ron Popp
Any interested person or group may address the Grand Traverse Rural Fire Board on any agenda item when recognized by the presiding Chairman or upon request of any Board Member. Also, any interested person or group may address the Grand Traverse Fire Board on any matter of Fire Department concern not on the Agenda during the agenda item designated Public Comment. The comment of any member of the public or any special interest group may be limited in time. Such limitation shall not be less than five minutes unless otherwise explained by the presiding Chairman, subject to appeal by the Grand Traverse Rural Fire Board.
- Roll Call
Fife Lake-Present, Grant-Present, Green Lake-Present, Long Lake-Present, Paradise-Present, Springfield-Present, Union-Absent Excused, Whitewater-Present
Chairman asked for a motion to approve agenda as amended with the addition of “budget” under unfinished business requested by Whitewater and the addition of “overview of the special meeting” under new business. Motion made by Union, seconded by Whitewater. All in favor. Motion carried.
- Conflict of Interest
- Consent Calendar
The purpose of the consent calendar is to expedite business by grouping non-controversial items together to be dealt with by one Board motion without discussion. Any member of the Board, staff or the public may ask that any item on the consent calendar be removed therefrom and placed elsewhere on the agenda for individual consideration by the Board; and such requests will be automatically respected. If an item is not removed from the consent calendar, the action noted in parentheses on the agenda is approved by a single Board action adopting the consent calendar.
- Minutes- The Board approves the minutes of Grand Traverse Rural Fire Board August 19, 2015 meeting minutes, and the August 26, 2015, Special ADR Mediation Session B meeting minutes.
- Payroll – The Board approves August 13, 2015 Payroll #17 in the amount of $19,577.08 and Payroll #17a in the amount of $219.94. Payroll #18 in the amount of $9,400.09 for August 27, 2015.
- Accounts Payable – The Board approves Pre-authorized claims for September 8, 2015 in the amount of $2,271.83. Vendors’ payable September 16, 2015 in the amount of $33,143.79.
- Reports and Communications –The Board directs the staff to receive, file and respond to communications as necessary. (Financial, Chief’s, RTC, Attorney).
Received Correspondence from Blair Township thanking us for our assistance during several of their public safety events.
Chairman asked for a motion to approve the consent calendar. Motion made by Long Lake, seconded by Fife Lake. 7 yeas / 1 nay (Whitewater). Motion carried.
- Public Comment
- Unfinished Business
- Station Leases
Tabled until next meeting.
- Update- Compensation Sub-Committee Policy Trial Period.
Long Lake reported it is going well since the start date. Long Lake would like to continue with the trail period without change until end of year.
Chairman asked for a motion to continue with the compensation policy for Long Lake as it exists, until further notice. Motion made by Union, seconded by Paradise. 7 yeas/ 1 nay (Whitewater). Motion carried.
Tabled until the next meeting.
Discussion took place regarding leaving the administration budget the same for another year, because there are recommendations that are being made from percentages and guesses and we currently have no history of this position. It was added that the administrative staff is needed, as their current responsibilities are not going to disappear and Rural is financially okay. It was also mentioned that we need to scale back on the administration. Come January 1st, if we cut the administration budget we have to prepare for that work to be completed, so we have to find someone to continue to do that work. It was suggested that perhaps the Captains can take on these added responsibilities or they can go out for bid on the current administrative jobs.
Discussion took place regarding capital outlay, and increasing the milage, because it has not been increased in years. It was mentioned that this budget is not sustainable.
The question was posed to the Rural Officers present at the meeting, if they could take on the administrative duties, if they were compensated for their time. All Rural Officers related, they do not have the time, due to their full time jobs, family responsibilities and their current department obligations, at least not without increased liability to Rural.
Further discussion took place. It was mentioned that, if they take this budget to their perspective boards, they will question why the administrative staff salaries were not cut. It was suggested that they could take the funds from the sale of equipment. An inquiry was made about the appraisals, if they have arrived. It was answered, we have not received them as of yet, but soon. It was also discussed to have a third party consultant conduct a manpower study versus everyone’s opinion.
Whitewater made a motion for the Chief and all employees to review their daily activities and to give the Board a list of what is statutorily required. Seconded, by Springfield. 7 yeas/ 1 nay (Whitewater). Motion carried.
- New Business
- Reminder -ADR Mediation Session C- September 17, 2015, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Hagerty Center, Room D.
Grant advises that he is unable to attend that meeting. It was questioned if we should reschedule the ADR Session, due to all members not in attendance. Chairman has strict time restraints on that day as well, which cannot be rescheduled. Short discussion took place. ADR Meeting will remain as scheduled.
- Overview of Special Meeting
The Chairman asked for an apology from Whitewater for disrespecting a member of the Board with an accusation and a disrespectful comment made about the Secretary at the September 10, 2015 Special Meeting. Whitewater refused, on the basis that this was his opinion.
- Second Public Comment
Public Comment – David Bieganowski (resident)(9394 10th Street, Interlochen). For those who don’t know me I am a Green Lake Township trusteed for eleven (11) years, my day job is a Municipal Attorney. I represent Mayfield Township, and had represented in the past for Blair Township for eight (8) years & the Village of Kingsley for ten (10) years. I am using my public comment time, because I wanted you to know that Paul Biondo is not representing the wishes of Green Lake Township Board. From what I can tell, after reading the minutes of the ADR sessions, our Board specifically did not authorize any type of vote on dissolution or for him to present a resolution to dissolve and if he was to vote like he wanted to vote, I would have been in court that very next day to invalidate that vote, because he is not authorized to do that specifically by the board. Our board has not voted to withdrawal from Rural, we have had very little discussion on it. We have authorized and sent the notice to get to the negotiating table to possibly modify Rural to save it. We have not looked at any real numbers about pulling out, at all. We don’t have numbers, we have not made any preparations whatsoever to be out of Rural. We have not had any serious discussions on the matter other than to send Paul to the ADR sessions. We are not ready to leave Rural by December 31st. I don’t think it could happen if we voted for that tomorrow, and we haven’t.
We have no good information to make an intelligent decision of whether we should pull out of Rural or not. If you think that Green Lake pulling out of Rural is a done deal, its not. Don’t count us gone, we have not seriously discussed it, we have not authorized Paul to say were pulling out. I read it in the newspapers and it upsets me, because we have not done that or gone that far and we have not authorized Paul to have any discussions on dissolving Rural. I am working with our board to have him replaced as a representative on your board; because he is not speaking for the board and he is withholding information and when I read the minutes and hear what he tells our board it’s a whole different thing. I want you to know he is not speaking for us and we are not prepared nor have we had any serious intelligent discussions about pulling out of Rural. I personally don’t feel he has the vote to make it happen, but I want you to know as a Green Lake Trustee that is what is going on.
Public Comment– Marv Radtke, Jr. (resident) 9394 10th Street, Interlochen- I have a couple questions, because it was hard for me to follow because we did not have the budgets that you were discussing. And there was a comment made about $300,000 for a public improvement fund, is there any kind of rainy day funds that are out there? Because $300,000.00 have been derived from tax payers money that has been squirreled away and invested and its growing and I heard some discussion tonight that this money was to be used in case of some kind of emergency situation correct? And I also heard of Long Lake pulling out and the potential conversation of Green Lake pulling out. Wouldn’t that constitute for an emergency situation? I am of the opinion that it is. And to sit there and squabble about $85,000 or $90,000 deficit for a proposed budget for next year based on unknowns of the impact of at least one, if not two pulling out, I would consider that a bit of an emergency. And not to consider not taking funds to offset that, and you heard it from Mr. Moyer you reach .8 and he is done, he doesn’t want that perhaps, but he has no choice, because financially he can’t do it. So I would like this board to seriously consider taking that emergency fund and budget issue for an unknown budget issue for next year. And to sit here and say the Chief is putting in a 40 hours a week, or a 45 hour a week on average, to my observation and information it’s a minimum of 65 hours. I work out there seven days a week and I see him out there working seven days and to sit there and say let’s cut his salary by 50% , its like saying let’s build a house and use 50% of the nails that are required. Its an emergency situation, use the funds that were squirrelled away just for this type of situation and put it to good use, if not give all the money back that you squirrelled away of the tax payers money that you are sitting on, for what? That is my opinion.
Public Comment-Kelly Stiner (resident) 9051 S. Hodge, Kingsley. I pay taxes to every one of your Townships, except for two. It is pretty disturbing to see you fighting over this little stuff. The budget that the Chief proposed to you, you have just tossed aside. Mr. Popp has made his own budget up and weighted it to $84,000.If the Chief puts out a budget in front of everybody, and if he feels that he can make that work then why aren’t you listening to him? I deal with $19 million dollar budget each year, I submit my budget, my corporate office never once gave me extra money, they are going to take more away and here you guys are putting money in, you put $10,000 for vehicle replacement. The Chief doesn’t want it. He set a budget because he feels he can make it work for one year. This is one year budget and you threw it out the window and that’s all you’ve talked about was the $84,000 deficit, the Chief came up with a $43, 000 deficit and I agree with Mr. Radtke, you guys cant swallow a $43,000 budget? I was part of a school board for Kingsley for eight years, four years as President, we had million dollars of deficit, we cut jobs, and we cut everything to turn that school board around. That school is at 45 plus kids now, and they are starting to bring jobs back, because what we did as a board. Whatever the superintendent gave as a budget, we either cut it or we stayed with what he said. We didn’t put extra money here, or there. That’s insane that you are not going to use the CEO/ Chief’s budget. I don’t understand how you can do that.
Public Comment– Ken Fritz (resident)-9809 Dell Road, Kingsley-I would like all of you to seriously research and do your homework on what it would cost you to be on your own, to run a department. As the Chief stated earlier, we are the cheapest run fire department in the area by far at .72 mills. If you want a fire department that’s run like a volunteer fire department like others in the area, go talk to them, interview them and really see what is happening. Talk to them about efficiency. The system that you developed is a unique system for everywhere in the nation, several department were develop from the model that you created. So I encourage your to do the research about where and how you can run a department cheaper. In regards to Long Lake pulling out, I guarantee you, it is going to cost you more to operate. Talk to Blair Township. Can it be done, absolutely, can it be done at a cheaper price, no. You may disagree, but to get the same service that we provide now, for this price, you won’t be able to do it. As far as replacing the administrative staff, you can hire anyone you want, like the Chief said, cut the wage in half and post the job out there. Just like any business, if you want good employees you have to pay good employees, if you want a $50,000 employee that doesn’t realize the stress and work that this job incurs, you are not going to get what you want.
Public Comment– Brian Carpenter (resident)-2839 Victoria Drive, Kingsley- I’ve been in the fire service for twenty-eight (28) years. I’ve been with Metro and with Rural. Before the Chief came this system was looking at total explosion. When the Chief came on board, the Chief has brought us up, to where Metro is looking at us now. Until this happening of Long Lake and Green Lake wanted to withdrawal, now we hit a wall. We have guys on Metro who are looking to come to us, because of the training we do, because of how we’ve changed. The Administrative Assistant has done so much more than anyone that I have seen. I drive by here at 7:00 p.m. at night, she’s still working. She keeps everyone informed, when you send her an email, you get the reply right back. Our leadership is what is making this station run right now and if you get rid of the Chief, there are guys out there who will be done, and you will not have a fire department, as it is right now.
Public Comment –Dan Machuta (resident)-3792 Vista Park, Traverse City
Any business that ever tried to do an administrative change over and a full system restructure at the same time, has failed. You will fail if you do this at the same time, I promise, if not for financial instability, but your personnel will be gone.
Public Comment– Paul Biondo (resident)-9394 10th Street, Interlochen. Just for clarification, we don’t have a budget stabilization fund or a rainy day fund.
Marvin Radke (Reply) – I was referring to what Mr. Milliron mentioned.
Paul Biondo continued. The $300,000 isn’t part of the fund balance, which we purchased CD’s for $100,000 each during the 9-1-1 days because of the bank guarantees we also only get paid only so often, so we have to have a fund balance. I just wanted to clarify that and we do have a good cash position. Additionally, I would like to say, Dave’s comments are wrong.
Public Comment –Ron Popp (resident) 5777 Vinton Road, Williamsburg – I will just say that it is not my budget that grew to $85,000 everyone around this table had discussion input around the table on it, including the Chief, and if he wishes to disagree with the things he said on September 10th, then he can retract those statements.
Kelly Stiner (resident) (Reply) – I was here, he didn’t say that.
So you would disagree with me that he thought adding $5,000 to the contingency fund was a bad idea? Kelly Stiner (resident) (Reply) – He never did that.
Mr. Popp replied, well the board did.
Public Comment –Marv Radtke, Jr. (resident) 9394 10th Street, Interlochen.
Quick question or clarification- the board sets the policy, and you hire someone to administer that policy. (Reply from Chairman) – Correct.
And it’s been discussed that the board does not allow the individual to administer the policy without the board administering the policy for the other individuals who administering it. No further comment.
Upon a motion made by Long Lake and duly seconded by Union, the Board adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
Chairman- Timothy Trudell Secretary- Adrienne C. Haas
Next Meeting October 21, 2015