By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – A financial plan for the city may be only weeks away.
Emergency Financial Manager Joyce Parker told City Council members at their regular meeting Tuesday that she hopes to have a first draft of her financial plan for the city completed by the end of the month.
Once completed, Parker said the plan will be sent to the council, who will hold a special meeting to discuss it. She also hopes to hold a town hall meeting to present it to the community before sending it to the state Treasury for approval, she said.
Before the plan is complete, however, Parker, appointed to the city by Gov. Rick Snyder in the fall, sought councilors’ input on possible consolidation efforts, including the city’s jail, police and fire services, police dispatch services, and sharing space in or moving City Hall.
Councilors raised concern about police and fire services, which Councilman Bob Keenan said was one of the major reasons many residents moved to the city.
Keenan, a former chairman of the city’s Public Safety Commission, said in the past the city’s police department has not received the drug forfeiture funds enjoyed by surrounding communities because the department’s reputation has turned criminals away from dealing drugs there and attempted stings by the police department have not been successful.
“The criminals won’t do it,” Keenan said. “We find it very hard to get any of that extra revenue that some of our surrounding communities have because our police department is so known for their efficiencies that criminals don’t want to come here. That’s the reason why a lot of us live in the city.”
He told Parker that he is not in favor of outsourcing the police or fire departments, but would support possible mergers or auxiliary forces.
“I would plead with you that anything we do in the realm of public safety be something that would afford the citizens the same level of public safety they’ve been accustomed to,” he said.
Councilman Angelo DeGiulio echoed his sentiment, pointing to a proposed auxiliary force managed by the South East Michigan Council of Reserve and Auxiliary Officers that is still being reviewed by the city’s Public Safety Commission.
Councilman Dennis Hayes agreed that an auxiliary police force could help respond to the many shoplifting calls at the Fairlane Green shopping center and free police to patrol the streets.
“Having some people with some kind of image or status that could show the public we’re concerned about their safety and well being could only bode well,” he said.
Hayes also pointed to inefficiencies he saw in the current public safety setup, such as the many runs by the fire department for emergency medical services, which could be outsourced to private companies, freeing the department to tackle fires.
He supported closing the city’s jail, the roof of which leaks severely. He called the jail “not humane” and an “abomination” and suggested a possible merger with Taylor for jail services.
“I’d like to see us get out of the jail business,” he said. “That’s one thing right away.”
Changing the city’s police dispatch services from its current provider, Downriver Central Dispatch, to another city which may be more cost-effective, and moving the City Hall to avoid costly repairs also was discussed.