BELDING — Members of the Belding City Council were on the same page when voting unanimously to approve several items presented before them during Tuesday evening’s meeting at the Pere Marquette Depot.
Belding Fire Chief Gregg Moore stood before City Council with a request for the city to accept a new agreement between Keene Township and the city for a renewed emergency service agreement between the two municipalities.
“The city of Belding has experienced a longstanding emergency service agreement with Keene Township,” Moore said. “The agreement has been for the Belding Fire Department to provide services for approximately the north one-third of the township, with the southern boundaries being Ellison Road, Scott Road and Richmond Road.”
According to Moore, the current agreement with Keene Township expires March 31.
More said over the past six years, the Belding Fire Department has experienced an average of less than nine calls for service a year into Keene Township, which includes one fire call, five medical first responder calls and three rescue calls.
“The annual calls for service in Keene Township averages approximately 1 percent of the annual calls for service that the Belding Fire Department responds to,” he said.
The new proposed contract was for a three-year period with an annual 1.5 percent increase. Keene Township Board members received the contract at the previous Keene Township board meeting and signed their portion of the contract, returning it to the city of Belding. The contract would continue to allow the Belding Fire Department to provide fire, rescue and medical first responder services to Keene Township.
According to the agreement, the 1.5 percent increase beginning in 2013 results in annual rates of $5,104.08 in 2013, $5,180.08 in 2014 and $5,258.35 in 2015
Councilman Tom Jones asked Moore if he believed the deal between the township and city was a fair deal to the fire department.
“I understand that the fire department does not have to be run as a business,” he said. “But my question is, are you comfortable with the capitol return received in this agreement?”
Moore said he believed the agreement was indeed fair.
“What we are getting back from Keene Township right now, I think is a fair rate,” he said. “We are getting more money back than our costs.”
More estimated the department’s budget in responding to calls in Keene Township at approximately $4,500, with an estimate net gain of $1,000 in the agreement.
Councilman Joe Feuerstein said his main concern with the agreement was the wear and tear of the vehicles and apparatuses used in responding to calls in Keene Township as the vehicles travel down country roads.
“Everything that sits over there in your fire barn is city resources and paid for by city taxpayers,” he said. “The apparatuses are eventually going to have to be replaced. We are wearing them out running them out on these gravel roads in the country.”
Feuerstein requested that reports including the times, locations and lists of equipment and personnel used in responding to calls in Keene Township be provided to council members on a monthly basis.
“No department has ever been asked, as long as I’ve been here, to (present) any financial issues on a monthly basis,” Moore said. “I can give it to you if you like, it just takes more time out of my day. It’s not a problem.”
Council members approved the agreement in a 5-0 vote. According to the agreement, Keene Township will continue to pay the city on April 15 of each year.
Council members then voted on a decision to accept one of two bids for the reconstruction of the Main Street Bridge over the Flat River in Belding.
On Feb. 13, the proposal were due for the removal and replacement of the bridge. According to Interim City Manager Sam Andres, two proposals were received by the city.
Fleis and Vandenbrink of Grand Rapids submitted a proposal at a cost of $210,200 and Williams and Works of Grand Rapids submitted a proposal at a cost of $140,544.
According to Andres, a grant has been secured from the Michigan Department of Transpiration’s Local Bridge Program to cover 95 percent of the construction costs with the city responsible for 100 percent of the engineering costs.
Fleis and Vandenbrink presented their construction engineering costs at $142,000 while Williams and Works presented their costs at $79,322.
Construction is expected to begin on the bridge in March 2014 and is estimated to last throughout August of the same year.
Principal Engineer and Senior Project Manager Dave Austin of Williams and Works was in the audience Tuesday evening and made a comment regarding the future project.
“Our firm is also contracted with the Ionia County Road Commission to be working on a bridge at Long Lake Road over the Flat River at the same time,” he said. “We took that into account when we priced this project.”
Councilwoman Andrea Belding said she appreciated the additional information.
“That’s an interesting piece of information that is helpful in distinguishing the costs difference between the two firms,” she said.
Council members approved the bid to Williams and Works by a 5-0 vote.
In other news, a $50,000 donation approved by the trustees of the Fred Meijer Foundation was gifted to the city to be applied toward restoration of the clock tower that will be decommissioned during demolition of the the Gibson building on the Electrolux property at the intersection of Bridge and Main streets over the next year.
Total estimates for the restoration sit at $420,000.
A Downtown Infrastructure Grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to be used to repair the Central Riverside Park parking lot in Belding was not awarded to the city.