Reorganization of Fire Department is moving forward

Mayor of Riverview, Michigan - Andrew Swift

FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR

Andrew Swift

My fellow Riverview residents, I hope that you are staying safe during this very difficult time.  We all have our stresses and concerns about Covid-19 and are dealing with them to the best of our abilities.  I encourage everyone to follow the CDC Guidelines as they relate to social distancing and wearing masks while going to the supermarket.  

To be honest I am uncomfortable with the term social distancing. I personally prefer the term physical distancing. We are a sociable society. My family, like yours, is getting creative in our socializing.  

In today’s world, which is different from yesterday’s and tomorrow’s world, online socializing and communication is the way to go.

With this in mind that is why our city council is using “Zoom” to host our council meetings. Yes it is a little inconvenient, but it is very important that we do our best to communicate with our residents.  

The past few council meetings we have been hosting “public hearings” to discuss our special assessment. This will be used to finance the reorganization of our Fire Department from being staffed with part-time staff to a mixture of full-time and part-time.

The establishment of the special assessment is a multiple step process with residents participating in all three steps.  

The first step took place in January, when the City Council was presented with the estimated costs of hiring full-time firefighter paramedics. 

The next step, which took place in April, was the public hearing discussing the establishment of a Special Assessment District and determining the cost of the transition. Input was received from many residents online and by email. Responses both supporting and opposing this establishment were discussed at the meeting. Council voted unanimously to establish the district. 

In early May, Council held another public hearing to discuss the next step in the process, assigning a levy to the “Special Assessment District.”  The district is defined as every parcel located within the Riverview City limits. Council also unanimously voted to assign a levy to that district.

The final step in the process is to assign a value to the levy. What council is hoping for is to replace the current sewer debt levy that is scheduled to expire June 1 with a public safety levy of equal value. That value is 1.47 mills. 

As a reminder on why the City Council is moving in this direction is the problem we are having in staffing at the fire department. For decades Riverview has staffed our Fire Department with part-time firefighters. Years ago Riverview started providing advanced life support service to our community.  

What that means is that at least one of the responders to a 911 call was a certified paramedic. Over the past few years it has become increasingly difficult to find a paramedic willing to work part-time. In an effort to alleviate the staff shortages, the Council created a Public Safety Committee.  After trying several different solutions, it was determined that the solution that has the best chance of succeeding is transitioning the fire department to a combination of full and part-time staff.  We are looking to hire eight full-time paramedics and supplement them with part-time paramedics that we already have. 

This move will increase the cost of the department by around $500,000 dollars. That is around the amount that the city receives from the sewer debt levy already on your tax bill. With the approval of the Special Assessment District Levy, the city will be able to start collecting the funds on July 1.   

The plan is to put a millage in the exact same amount on the ballot this November. This millage will be for a set period of time, likely around 10 years. With the residents voting on the millage we require a special assessment every year.

If you’d like a sign supporting our Fire Department email me at aswift@cityofriverview.com with your address.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *