September 2, 2014

Standish to submit plan to consolidate services to the state

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

STANDISH — The Standish City Council approved a resolution to send a services consolidation plan to the state at their meeting Monday, Dec. 19, in order to get additional shared revenue.

The council voted 6-1to submit the plan. Councilman Ed Reno was absent.

The consolidation plan must highlight ways the city will save money by sharing services between departments and other government units.

“They want to know what we’ve done in the past to consolidate services in-house or with other governmental units,” Standish Mayor Mark Winslow said.

The consolidation plan is part of the Michigan Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP), which was enacted by Governor Rick Snyder earlier this year. The deadline for a plan to be submitted is Jan. 1, 2012.

EVIP replaces the previous revenue legislation programs through which the state used to distribute additional funds. These funds are in addition to the percentage of revenues the state shares with local governments.

By completing the consolidation plan and other benchmarks regarding transparency and employee insurance, Standish is eligible to get part of $200 million provided by the state for all participating municipalities, getting back some of the shared revenue money it lost when the state moved to the program.

Winslow had three older items listed on the plan, all of them collaborations with other government units in Standish and with the county government. These include the 1984 agreement with Lincoln Township to provide sewer and water services, the 1997 joint fire authority agreement with Lincoln and Standish Townships, and the 2010 combination of the clerk and treasurer positions in Standish City Hall.

While exact figures were not available for the 1984 agreement, City Manager Curt Hillman listed savings for the 1997 agreement and the clerk/treasurer combination at $30,000 a year for each.

The board also listed two future consolidation projects: the combination of the water department administrative assistant and clerk positions in 2011, which is expected to save an estimated $25,000 a year, and a fiber optic project with Arenac County with estimated savings of $6,000 a year.

Winslow reported he and Hillman met with county officials and representatives from Merit Network about combining access to a proposed fiber optic line that is planned to run to the county building across the street. Winslow believes access to the line would save the city money and bring broadband and better phone service.

Hillman said the proposed fiber optic line would allow city officials to call anywhere in Michigan, as well as some parts of Indiana and Illinois, without being charged a long-distance fee.

In addition, Hillman and Winslow believe the line, which will run through the city, can connect further with the hospital and schools. The fiber optic line is expected to be connected by late summer 2012.

Submitting a consolidation plan is the second phase municipalities must participate in for EVIP.

The first “transparency” phase, providing a dashboard of economic information for residents online, was due by Oct. 1. The third and last phase deals with employee compensation, and requires municipalities to prove they will reduce retirement and health care costs. The deadline for the third phase is May 1, 2012.

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