October 23, 2014

City and fire department negotiating rental agreement

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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STANDISH — At the Standish City Council’s first, and later decided to be the last, Friday evening meeting on May 15, the recently reported rental agreement issues between the city and Standish Area Fire Authority (SAFA) moved towards settlement when the city offered to cut the amount owed to the city for back rent in half, from $27,000 to $13,500.

City Manager Mike Moran and City Treasurer Peggy Burtch uncovered the rental issue while reviewing the city’s budget. The SAFA, which rents a building used as a fire barn from the city, hadn’t paid rent, which through a 1998 resolution was shown to be $3,200 per year, since 2002. However, fire department officials said no invoices were sent requesting the rent to be paid.

“I know I’ve asked for this bill many, many, many times,” said SAFA Board President Jeff Trombley, adding, prior to the city’s offer, that if the department was charged back the maximum amount, it would cause some tough problems for the SAFA.

“$27,000’s going to rake our budget bad and we’re trying to get a new truck. … To be frank with you, the good truck we do have is 15 years old.”

Trombley and other SAFA representatives also pointed out that the fire department had paid to have roof repairs done, fix the garage door and clean up a black mold problem (which the new roof assisted with) in the building.

But city officials at the meeting said the city has helped out, too.

“We’ve been paying the heat on the building,” said Mayor Kevin King. “We know we dropped the ball here.”

The offer to charge the SAFA half of what can be collected is expected to be discussed by the SAFA Board at its next meeting as a starting point for negotiations between the fire department and city.

In other city council news, less than a week after the city’s police chief Garrett Salter took a job with the Gladwin County Sheriff’s Department, city council made a motion on Friday to appoint city police officer Mark Christian as interim chief. City Manager Mike Moran had mentioned taking over the position earlier last week, but council decided to go with Christian, instead. He will be evaluated by Moran after six months as interim chief.

The city also opted to decline a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation grant for financial reasons.

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