2017-09-13 / Front Page

Deal reached

Mayfield agrees to four-year deal with Lapeer FD
BY ANDREW DIETDERICH

MAYFIELD TWP. — Mayfield Township officials approved entering into a draft agreement with Lapeer for fire services Monday, though one board member voted against it, and claimed city officials “strong-armed” them into the deal.

The board voted 4-1 to enter into the draft agreement and get it to city officials this week, about two weeks before the current six-year deal expires.

Lapeer Fire & Rescue Chief Terry Kluge said he will now put together a new agreement based on the terms agreed to by the Mayfield board. The Mayfield Township Board of Trustees and Lapeer City Commission will then be asked to approve the final version of the contract that will be effective Oct. 1.

Under the four-year contract, Mayfield Township would pay $185,000 for the first year with a subsequent 2 percent increase annually.

Township Supervisor Dianna Ireland said the township would handle processing burn permits — previously handled by Lapeer Fire & Rescue officials.

During Monday’s meeting, Ireland indicated the deal has been in the works for over a year. Mayfield Township board minutes throughout the year indicate negotiations have been ongoing.

“I did break the numbers from the first draft contract that we had last August… there’s a savings over a four-year period of $44,128 (in the latest draft),” Ireland told the board.

No discussion occurred after the motion to send the draft agreement was made and seconded.

Trustee Dan Engelman cast the lone “no” vote.

He explained why he voted the way he did after the meeting. “They’re strong-arming us,” he said.

Engelman said he was referring specifically to written correspondence to Mayfield Township officials.

“They made the statement in the letter that they would go to the press if we didn’t sign it,” Engelman said.

Kluge said Tuesday that he wrote the letter and that it wasn’t intended to be a threat.

“It was simply if we didn’t have an agreement that I feel that I would have had a responsibility to notify the public that effective the first of October, we may not be protecting Mayfield Township anymore,” Kluge said. “I didn’t intend it to be a threat. It was simply making sure they were aware that if we didn’t have an agreement, we weren’t going to be providing fire protection to the township any longer. That’s normal course of business, I guess.”

Engelman also told The County Press that he feels the contract “is too much money”, and that he doesn’t think the fire department goes far enough to justify what it charges Mayfield Township.

Engelman compared it with the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept., which the township contracts with for policing services provided by five deputies.

“The sheriff’s department shows us,” Engelman said. “We have a breakdown of every dollar.

“We have nothing from (Lapeer Fire & Rescue),” he added. “They won’t give us anything.”

However, Engelman said, there’s nothing that can be done currently, given Mayfield’s limited options with the clock ticking.

“They know they have us over a barrel — right now,” he said.

It was an echo of sentiments Mayfield officials had when they signed the deal six years ago.

Trustee Beth Potter- Knowlton said in the Sept. 17, 2011 issue of The County Press that “we’re over a barrel” with regard to fire services.

According to its 2016 annual report, “Lapeer Fire & Rescue is a combination department made up of part- and full-time employees, who provide fire protection, rescue, hazardous materials, and public education services from a single station in the City of Lapeer. Located in western Lapeer County, our service area is approximately 100 square miles in size, encompassing the City of Lapeer, Lapeer and Mayfield Townships, and roughly the southern half of Oregon Township. The resident population served is over 24,000.”

About a month ago, Ireland said she and Clerk Julie Schlaud had continually been meeting with Kluge.

“We’re still talking and in negotiations with the city on that item,” Ireland said during Mayfield’s August meeting.

Ireland told The County Press that she couldn’t talk about negotiations, but did say she is “exploring all options.”

Ireland also said that it was important to note that the hold-up had “nothing to do with the firefighters. We love the firefighters. They have done a great job for us.”

Kluge said he is “very happy” Mayfield officials agreed to enter into the deal.

“We’ve been Mayfield’s fire department since forever,” he said. “And we look forward to continuing to serve them.”

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